As decided upon by Carrie Stardust.

Of course I use the word “anthem” in the ironic sense. As anyone familiar with Yacht Rock can attest.

For those of you not familiar with the term, don’t despair. I have only recently come across it thanks to my good friend Shawn Kilroy. Remember all those Soft Rock hits from the 80s that conjure up serene images of putting on your Sperry loafers and taking the yacht out for a spin around the marina with only the latest Bret Easton Ellis, a couple of strippers and an eighth of cocaine to pass the afternoon?


Michael McDonald, The Doobie Bros, Hall & Oates, Kenny Loggins, etc. Get it, got it?

The term yacht rock was coined in 1990 after some music journalist realized that a lot of the songs had nautical references (Sailing by Christopher Cross for example. Which, much like  Your Kiss, Your Kiss, is decidedly NOT on my list). And then back in 2005 there was a web series called Yacht Rock that parodied the whole movement.

So there’s the back story, so without further adieu, I present


#10: “Share Sweet Freedom” Michael McDonald

What the hell movie was this from? The video stars Billy Crystal & Gregory Hines in addition to Michael McDonald and all of his hot & hairy blue-eyed glory. I remember jamming out to this with the wind streaming through my hair riding down the highway in the backseat of my mom’s old Mazda, or whatever the hell she drove in 1986. I was probably in my car seat come to think of it.  Nostalgia, man, its powerful stuff.

#9: “You Make My Dreams Come True” – Hall & Oates

I have The Wedding Singer to thank for rediscovering this back in my teenage years. It’s not one of my favorites, mainly because I think I rediscovered it too early so it lost it’s nostalgic appeal. But, that being said, it’s still a classic, and a great little ditty.

#8: “Africa” – Toto

I feel so relaxed listening to this song. Sometimes I wish it was 1983. Toto is a stupid-ass name for a band though, and that’s why this is not higher on the list.

#7  “This is It” – Loggins/McDonald

It’s a shame that full beards were so de rigeur for Yacht Rock singers, as both Loggins and McDonald are incredibly handsome (well..were incredibly handsome) and much of this is obscured by excessive facial hair. Loggins vocal prowess, in my opinion, was unmatched within the movement as well, but more on that later. Hint: You haven’t seen the last of Loggins.

#6 “Peg” – Steely Dan

So good. I can’t so much follow the lyrics in this one though, who is Peg? Is she the one with the picture that is kept in the letter and what is her favorite foreign movie? I guess thats the thing about Yacht Rock, the lyrics are secondary to the polished, poppy melodies. In the meantime, I’ll need tons more blow to figure this one out, so get back to me later.

#5 “I keep forgetting” – Michael McDonald

I know, I know. More Michael McDonald? Yes. This is the quintessential Michael McDonald, and also happened to lay the groundwork for the quintessential Yacht Rap song, as well, a decade later.

#4 “Baker Street” – Gerry Rafferty

Have you fucking heard this sax solo?

I. rest. my. case.

Forget the rest of the song, it doesn’t matter.

#3 “What a Fool Believes” The Doobie Brothers

Ok, Ok, Ok it’s Michael McDonald, technically,…but before he went solo. So shut up. This song was well parodied in the first ep. of Yacht Rock. That means its definitve for the period. Therefore it must be on this list. Also it rocks and thats just a fact.

#2: “The Finer Things” Steve Winwood

Now, I’ll have you know that Steve Winwood isn’t technically included in the list of what constitutes Yacht Rock. But, to me, it conclusively is. And this is his finest song. It’s uplifting, smooth, catchy and I just love it. I was really tempted to put a whole lot more Steve W. on this list but figured I’d be pushing the limits a bit much. He is one of my favorite 80s artists though, so I definitely urge all to check him out.

#1: “I’m Alright” Kenny Loggins

His vocals are just incredible. The runs at the end of the phrases, in particular. I just do not get tired of this one.  You know, if it wasn’t for “Back to Pooh Corner” I really, really, really would respect this man as a serious musician instead of just really, really respecting him.

And there you have it. My Top 10 Greatest Yacht Rock Anthems*. Did I miss something? Is your favorite song not on here? By all means, let me know.

Not that I really care, but that doesn’t mean you cant notify me.


* Anthems intended to be taken with irony.

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One Comment

  1. Posted May 3, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Running Scared is the name of the movie with Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines. i saw it in the theater when it came out. i have the 12″ extended mic of Sweet Freedom. It’s not good, but I like it.

One Trackback

  • By JAZZERCISE on August 17, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    […] was listening to my yacht-rock station on Pandora today when I heard Arthur’s Theme by Christopher Cross. Best known to most […]

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