YACHTOBER: AllMusic Loves Yacht Rock!

We're nearing the end of our month-long voyage and - I'm not gonna lie - more than a little fatigue is setting in. The weather has been kind but the chef has run out of recipes, provisions are low and there are no drive-thrus nor farmer's markets out here in the middle of the Pacific. And I'm almost done with my book of Sudoku. We did not plan this trip well. Well, besides the music, which has been nothing but all kinds of smooth. Sail on sailor.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine is a prolific music critic with credits at Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and seemingly on every other page I read on the AllMusic site. In the AllMusic Loves Yacht Rock article, he confesses to not being initially comfortable with the term yacht rock but has "softened his opposition" and thinks it's a useful term to describe "all the smooth music from 1975-1982, whether it's SoCal soft rock, quiet storm, or smooth jazz.The playlist below one Mr. Erlewine probably listens to and continues to curate, adding a track just a couple of months ago. As it stands now, the playlist has 107 songs and lasts just over seven hours.

For Matt Collar, "the key defining rules" of yacht rock are:
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.
Consequently, Collar's playlist below is seeded with deep cuts and artists that haven't been heard much this YACHTOBER. It's 38 tracks and just under three hours of music: "so breezy and smooth, it might just blow you away."

John Bush describes his ideal yacht rock playlist as "arrow-straight, middle-of-the-road, slicker than slick, and Brylcreemed within an inch of its life." Hear his 20 picks below in just an hour and a half.

James Christopher Monger takes Bush's definition above and pushes the boundaries a bit. There's nothing obscure here - 39 of the 40 tracks were immediately recognizable but I've been listening to a whole hell of a lot of this music for YACHTOBER so my senses are both heightened and numbed. In all honesty, a handful of these tracks would have been new to me if it was the first yacht rock playlist I ever listened to. Monger gives us 40 songs, enough for a three-hour tour.

Which brings us to the final playlist in the AllMusic post, one curated by Andy Kellman, whose take on yacht rock is unique and more specific than those of his colleagues above:
orchestral soul, quiet storm, mellow funk, relaxed disco, and proto-smooth jazz—as well as all their hybrids—released between the eras of classic soul and producer-oriented R&B
While the preceding playlists are more in line with my personal admittedly more mainstream yacht rock picks, it is Kellman's playlist below that sound-tracked a recent gorgeous morning here at the land-locked Hideaway, introducing me to songs and artists I may have never heard otherwise. Hear for yourself the 40 tracks and three and a half hours of music in the playlist below.

(Except for the first playlist above, track listings can be found in the original AllMusic article.)
In her 2016 article, Mara Schwartz Kuge takes readers on a brief tour through the history of soft rock and then offers seven distinct microgenres somewhere between soft rock and yacht rock (below) before going into the history of yacht rock, including misunderstanding, misuse, and abuse of the term.
  • Soft Rock Folk
  • Soft Rock Country
  • Soft Rock R&B
  • Soft Rock Prog
  • Soft Rock Jazz
  • The Brothers Gibb
  • The Michael McDonald/Kenny Loggins Axis
She raises some interesting points with these microgenres, providing instant litmus tests for listeners new to the smoothness of it all asking themselves "Is it soft rock or yacht rock?" though Mara says that if you're still confused "just put on Minute By Minute." In addition to being a music writer as well as a music publishing executive, Mara also DJs regular Soft Rock Sunday gatherings around Los Angeles so she kind of knows her some soft rock. In tandem with her article, she curated the playlist below confusingly titled Soft Rock Sounds & Yacht Rock Highlights, 42 songs and just under three hours of both yacht and nyacht rock.

(tracklist can be found HERE)

1 comment:

  1. Mara Schwartz Kuge gets it. As far as yacht rock definitions go, she and I are in agreement.