Rockin' You Eternally

Nothing is wrong with Yacht Rock as a soft-rock sub-style. The same goes for Yacht Rock as a lifestyle. Yacht Rock as a viewing experience, however, could have been enriched with the addition of a few extra characters and scenes. George Benson on rollerskates, Quincy Jones smacking James Ingram with a conductor's wand, Lenny White making fun of Don Blackman's beaded braids ("Whatever, Patrice Rushen"), Don Blackman making fun of Lenny White's lethal wide-brim hats ("OK, Odd Job"), the Seawind Horns and the Brecker Brothers rumbling over session work, a million-dollar party at Rod Temperton's Montserrat mansion that makes Diddy's exotic blowouts seem as lavish as a McDonald's birthday party -- these are scenes the Yacht Rock series could have used.

Even though any retro fad failing to recognize this nameless hybrid style and aesthetic is part of the problem, not the solution, you cannot really fault the makers -- the mockumentarians -- of Yacht Rock for their oversights. After all, none of the people mentioned above were ever all that rock. They weren't really straight jazz or R&B, either, at least not during this era. They fell somewhere in-between those genres while they were rather pop. This was very rhythmic, very melodic, rather smooth music, and it doesn't really have a name, even though it is very much in line with Yacht Rock, having occurred synchronously while benefiting from numerous crossovers. (Cases in point: the presence of Patti Austin, Richard Tee, Ralph McDonald, Steve Gadd, and Harvey Mason on Kenny Loggins' very first solo album, or the omnipresence of various Toto members.) Furthermore, Yacht Soul does not have the same ring to it as Yacht Rock. Ditto Catamaran R&B, Pontoon Funk, and Marina Jazz (mostly because that's Chuck Mangione).

If repeated listening has somehow diminished the mellowing effects of Minute by Minute, The Gist of the Gemini, the flawless first side of Gaucho, and the parts of Tusk not made "weird" by Lindsey Buckingham, consider broadening your horizons with the playlist below, which only showcases a fraction of Yacht Rock's part-pop/part-jazz/part-R&B/part-funk/part-quiet storm equivalent.

Don Blackman - "Holding You, Loving You" (sample)
Twennynine f/ Lenny White - "Best of Friends" (sample)
Leon Ware - "Rockin' You Eternally" (sample)
George Benson - "Give Me the Night" (sample)
Keni Burke - "Risin' to the Top" (sample)
The Brothers Johnson - "Closer to the One That You Love" (sample)
Ray Parker Jr. & Raydio - "A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)" (sample)
Minnie Riperton - "Memory Lane" (sample)
Flora Purim - "Love Lock" (sample)
The Jones Girls - "Nights Over Egypt" (sample)
Patrice Rushen - "Remind Me" (sample)
Kool & the Gang - "Take My Heart (You Can Have It if You Want It)" (sample)
Tom Browne - "Come for the Ride" (sample)
Rufus & Chaka Khan - "Live in Me" (sample)
Brenda Russell - "Way Back When" (sample)
Womack & Womack - "Baby I'm Scared of You" (sample)
Michael Henderson - "In the Night-Time" (sample)
Phyllis Hyman - "Loving You, Losing You" (sample)
Eramus Hall - "Your Love Is My Desire" (sample)
The Blackbyrds - "Mysterious Vibes" (sample)

2013 expanded-edition update: The sample links no longer work, but these 40-track playlists do.