Yacht Rock Review – What is yacht rock in 2019?
First, for those who have seen our band, Yachty by Nature, you probably don’t need a ton of help on the question. In fact, chances are that you’ve come to the yacht full speed and fully ready to swim in the smooth. Ultimately, there are still plenty of people that came to check out our band with a friend. And, chances are, the hook is in. This music is infectious and the fun of the band is wildfire. However, you’d be amazed how much Yacht Rock education we’ve done in this fabulous 4 years. In addition, our job never ends. We still see people scratching their heads to these guys in Captain’s Hats. Luckily, those of us who love the genre know how contagious and far-reaching it can be. Let’s have a Yacht Rock Review of things now and what’s to come. The power of yacht rock compels you!
Yacht Rock Radio – Sirius/XM
You may be curious on the question, new to the genre of 70’s and 80’s yacht music, or landlubber extraordinaire. No matter your appreciation or knowledge of yacht bands, we’ll steer you to the port side of smooth soft rock. In fact, lots of interesting debate on the music and fantastic that people are so interested. Furthermore, please know that we didn’t invent Yacht Rock (JD Ryznar and the boys did) and we only seek to inform as the best we can! Lastly, we’ll give you a nice frame of reference here whether you are new or super hip to the music. Many of our listeners are catching the Sirius/XM radio choices but the topic is way deeper than just that station.
Whoops, already, there’s a misnomer, soft rock. To the purists, soft rock is a completely separate genre with only tethers to the sophisticated smooth of our sloop. It is a slightly different animal with some overlap so don’t mistake the two. Additionally, when we reference the purists, it generally refers to the Yachtski Scale invented by our purist leaders, JD Ryznar, Hollywood Steve Huey, Hunter Stair, and David Lyons. A proper yacht rock review checks the scale for songs you might think are on or off the yacht. Just know that in 2005, they defined a style of music from 1976 to 1984 that is jazzy and R&B with lush production, big vocals, and hooky melodies. Their scale indicates that any song over 50 is Yacht Rock and anything under is Nyacht Rock.
Of note, the song What a Fool Believes embodies the genre with a perfect score of 100. In fact, Rosanna sung by the super group Toto registers at a whopping 95.75. The scale is made up of individual scorings by the guys and then an average of those 4 ratings. Their Beyond Yacht Rock is a staple of Yacht Rock fans and continues to muse comedically about this amazing music. Beware, we have sparred with the fellas over their Yacht or Nyacht ratings. In fact, we have endured many bickerings over the ever-popular tune, Brandy. They have written extensively about why this song doesn’t make the cut. Imagine when JD came to see a Yachty by Nature performance!!! Shockingly enough, he tweeted that we had crushed so many Yacht songs, we deserved to play Brandy!
Furthermore, certain artists and producers live in the genre throughout. So if you hear Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan, Michael McDonald, David Foster, Rod Temperton, Jay Graydon, Jeff Lorber, or Greg Phillinganes it’s clearly yacht. In fact, yacht music is full of session players, complicated chord changes, and sailing/boat references and album covers galore.
But here’s the thing. In fairness to the purists and general public, the magnetic pull of yacht rock sometimes lies deep in the heart of our music memory. That pull stretches the genre to include the songs that newbies to Yacht Rock may just feel has the right vibe. There is a ton of internet debate on the subject. Even the newer Facebook page dedicated to yacht rock brims with conversations of whether songs are on the yacht or not. Sometimes heated, sometimes colorful, the purists can take it very seriously. Occasionally, newer sailors tread this water ignorantly and to be thrashed by the whirlpool vortex of Yachty experts! With all due respect, as a yacht rock band playing to the public, we welcome all yachty sailors.
Yacht Rock Adjacent
Despite the ratings, sometimes the lay person just needs some Hall and Oates which is notoriously Nyacht Rock to the purist. Let’s yacht rock review about the Yacht adjacent attitudes here. As a yacht rock band, Yachty by Nature sees this all the time. Naturally, we’re drawn to this smooth, soft, comfy mellow groove from the 70’s and 80’s that we heard in the back of the station wagon. Even the term yacht rock is natively hilarious, fun, and invokes a dreamy setting of palm trees swaying and the yacht party swooning to some Rupert Holmes. There’s the hook. This music is an Escape, an adventure, a trip, a voyage, a transcendence of time and emotion.
Just like cruising the yacht, the music takes you to exotic imagery and vibes. The groove is unmistakable and the experience is carefree, California, 70’s and sexy. In 2019 and 4 years of rocking the yacht with Yachty by Nature, the playlist has evolved. Currently, we hear new Yacht out there all the time. But there’s also the foundation of Yacht Rock with Boz Scaggs Lowdown, Steely Dan’s Peg, and of course Africa by Toto. Increasingly, the boat has expanded to welcome those tunes that may be on the fringe or just have that yachty feel or hook.
More and more, our audiences appreciate an open view of those tunes and as long as we stay Yachty…we’ll be fine. Dare I even say that if we keep the groove upbeat, the dance yacht is fine. This is a zone that we call Yacht Rock Adjacent. With all due respect to the founders, we do appreciate the stretched out yacht vibe. In my estimation, there’s soft rock that makes it, some Bread tunes. Some newer yacht makes it like Get Lucky by Daft Punk. There are obvious cruisers like Hall and Oates that have immense popular demand. And, perhaps, an entire category on it’s own for Brandy, which everyone LOVES (except Laura!).
Band on the Run
So, where does the band really stand? Well, Yacht Rock Revue plays many Nyacht Rock songs. In fact, they were the very first Yachty band and branched off into plenty of Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, etc. Their national popularity says something for the way audiences have responded to yacht music AND those exceptions to the rule. Certainly as a live band playing to audiences that need upbeat stuff, our genre can be mellow, cruizy, and too snoozy. Keeping the crowd swinging and even getting gigs like opening for Snoop, say something for the talent of the band AND the song choices. It is definitely an art to keep the yacht humming along. So, how does the band navigate these treacherous waters between the purists, the crowd, and just downright good music?
Well, it’s been an education. There are songs that the audience demands and we plenty lots of those anthemic hammers. Aside, Yachty by Nature is a real pro band with a really tight rhythm section and vocal talent to boot. Keeping the musicians satisfied and challenged is always fun to do. In addition, the satisfaction of playing, say, Georgy Porgy or Peg or Rosanna has been downright special. The band works hard and really gets somewhere good and audiences seem to react accordingly. It’s been special!
Future Yacht Rock Review
Yacht Rock Review of the future. Where does it go from here? Even Yacht Rock Revue just began putting out original music. It’s certainly more dancy and electronic pop, but sort of inline with some of the newer smooth music that you might see on Spotify. In fact, many of those newer tunes are in a more electronic and dance oriented vein. However, you find many artists that are popping up that align with the Yachtski scale as well. The Swedish band State Cows, for instance, is making an impact and falls under the West Coast or AOR category. And they certainly have a Pages and Steely Dan flavor to their tunes. Additionally, Tame Impala is another fun source of some dancier yacht as well. And, of course, our friends in New York, the Bad Business band and another indie band, Foxygen are making a splash in the smooth genre. Love the evolution and love the energy behind all this smooth. Long live yacht rock!
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