Genres » yacht rock
yacht rock "Yacht rock" is a name for the popular soft rock that peaked between the years of 1976 and 1984. Significant "yacht rockers" include Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Christopher Cross, and Toto. While the music has existed for years, popular usage of the term "yacht rock" is relatively new, coming into circulation through the online comedy series of the same name.
In the musical sense, yacht rock refers to the highly polished brand of soft rock that emanated from Southern California during the late 1970s and early 1980s. In part, the term relates to the stereotype of the yuppie yacht owner, enjoying champagne and smooth music while out for a sail. Additionally, since sailing was a popular leisure activity in Southern California, many "yacht rockers" made nautical references in their lyrics, videos, and album artwork, particularly the anthemic track Sailing by Christopher Cross.
The foundation of the yacht rock scene was a local pool of versatile session musicians who frequently played on each other's records. This professionalism often gave yacht rock recordings a high level of sophistication in musical areas such as composition, arrangement, and instrumental skill.
The most popular yacht rock artists enjoyed massive commercial success. During its peak years, yacht rock dominated the Grammy Awards, with Christopher Cross and Toto sweeping the major awards in 1981 and 1983 respectively, feats consistently derided by Grammy prognosticators. However, yacht rock was not a hit with most rock critics at the time, who dismissed it as being corporate rock that was overproduced, generic, and middle of the road, favoring such acts as The Clash, Patti Smith, and Elvis Costello instead.
In developing the show Yacht Rock, creator J. D. Ryznar commented that the term was intended to describe the "more elite studio artists" of the period, such as Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. David B. Lyons, who co-produced the show and played Koko Goldstein, noted that a friend of his devised the term "marina rock" in college to describe a more "working-class" group of artists that didn't achieve the same high profile, such as Seals and Crofts, Rupert Holmes, and Looking Glass. However, despite the show's intentions, music journalists have begun using the term yacht rock to describe all of the similar-sounding music of the period, including bands such as Ambrosia, 10cc, Pablo Cruise, Firefall, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Orleans, Ace, and Player.
While Ryznar and the show popularized the term "yacht rock," but it had existed previously. Its earliest-known appearance came in 1990 from Dave Larsen, popular music critic for the Dayton Daily News, describing an upcoming Jimmy Buffet concert in Cincinnati.