Yacht rock

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For the online video series, see Yacht Rock.
"West Coast Sound" redirects here. For the earlier West Coast pop/rock aesthetic, see California Sound.

Yacht rock (initially known as the West Coast Sound[2]) is a broadly-encompassing musical style and aesthetic[3] identified with the soft rock genre.[4] Yacht rock was one of the biggest genres of its era, existing between the late 1970s and early 1980s,[5] when it was then described as "adult-oriented rock".[6] Some of the music may overlap with smooth soul, smooth jazz, R&B, funk, and disco.[3] Common stylistic traits include high-quality production, clean vocals, and a focus on big-hearted melodies.[6]

The term "yacht rock" was coined in 2005 with the online video series of the same name created by J.D. Ryznar,[7][8] and it was originally used as a pejorative, although its stigma has lessened in later years.[6]


In part, "yacht rock" relates to the stereotype of the yuppie yacht owner, enjoying 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.[5] According to IGN's Spence D. and Brian Linder, the song "fits the whole concept of Yacht Rock to a 'T.'"[9] According to AllMusic's Matt Colier:

The key defining rules of the game seem to be: keep it smooth, even when it grooves, with more emphasis on the melody than on the beat; keep the emotions light, even when the sentiment turns sad (as is so often the case in the world of the sensitive yacht-rocksman); and always keep it catchy, no matter how modest or deeply buried in the tracklist the tune happens to be.[3]

Yacht rock existed roughly between the years 1975–82[3] or 1976–84.[4] Some of the most popular acts included Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Steely Dan and Toto.[5] Ryznar commented that the term was intended to refer to the "more elite studio artists" of the period.[10] David B. Lyons, who co-produced Yacht Rock and played Koko Goldstein, noted that a friend of his devised the term "marina rock" in college to refer to a more "working-class" group of artists that didn't achieve the same high profile, such as Seals and Crofts, Bertie Higgins, Rupert Holmes, and Looking Glass.[3]

List of artists[edit]


  1. ^ Hinkes-Jones, Llewellyn (15 July 2010). "Downtempo Pop: When Good Music Gets a Bad Name". The Atlantic. 
  2. ^ a b Cross, Christopher (February 22, 2014). "Hall & Oates Are Genuine Rock Stars in My Book". The Huffington Post. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "AllMusic Loves Yacht Rock". AllMusic. June 25, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Berlind, William (2006-08-27). "Yacht Rock Docks in New York". The New York Observer. Archived from the original on 2011-05-18. Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  5. ^ a b c Kamp, Jon (October 11, 2015). "Can You Sail to It? Then It Must Be 'Yacht Rock'". The Wall Street Journal. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Bray, Elisa (June 5, 2014). "From Haim to Chromeo: The new wave of Yacht-rockers". Independent. 
  7. ^ Crumsho, Michael (2006-01-09). "Finally, a name for that music: "Yacht Rock"". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  8. ^ a b Toal, Drew (June 26, 2015). "Sail Away: The Oral History of 'Yacht Rock'". Rolling Stone. 
  9. ^ Spence D.; Brian Linder (2006-05-30). "Top 10 Yacht Rock Songs Of All Time". IGN. Retrieved 2006-10-09. 
  10. ^ Matos, Michaelangelo (2005-12-07). "Talk Talk: J.D. Ryznar". Seattle Weekly. Archived from the original on 2006-04-14. Retrieved 2006-10-09.