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This Ultimate List of Yacht Rock songs will add a breezy flare to your next BBQ, luau, pool party or just every day afternoon.
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Nothing says super chill summer like Yacht Rock music.
Smooth and mellow sounds of the “soft rock” favorites from the late 70’s and early 80’s. Where did this vintage resurgence come from? Read my earlier post about Yacht Rock here.
Makes you think of sipping champagne on a yacht while wearing a glamorous Halston dress. It makes me feel like I’m stepping into a classic episode of Love Boat or perhaps I’m driving down the California coast with a summer breeze blowing through my hair.
Wherever the music of yacht rock takes you, it’s surely a chill and relaxing vibe.
The Ultimate Yacht Rock Playlist
Number One: All Night Long by Lionel Richie
“All Night Long” by Lionel Richie
If you read my previous post about Yacht Rock, you know how this one is a sentimental favorite of mine. Lionel Richie has done this as a duet with lots of great artists out there–Jimmy Buffet, Shania Twain, Kenny Rogers. But I decided to post the most authentic version that I could find. So enjoy this gem from 1984.
Number Two: “Smooth Operator” by Sade
“Smooth Operator” by Sade
If Lionel Richie is the Commodore of all Yacht Rock, then Sade is the beautiful Siren. Her mix of soulful jazz and Caribbean rhythms sweep you away to a night on a champagne cruise. But they’re so timeless, it’s hard to know if you’re sailing in modern day or 1984.
Number Three: “Creoloa” by Jimmy Buffett
“Creola” by Jimmy Buffett
Every time I hear Jimmy Buffet sing this, I feel like I should be dancing on The Love Boat wearing a fabulous Halston dress! Nowadays, it’s usually song by very talented Nadirah Shakoor. (Unfortunately her well trained voice doesn’t lend itself to that same level of Yacht Rock cheezy mellowness, so here’s a video that a Parrothead put together as the sun sets.
Number Four: “Ventura Highway” by America
“Ventura Highway” by America
Those opening guitar chords. Starting out reminiscent of old Spanish California, they then dip into the smooth groove of 70’s hippie California. You know you’re on the road to a good song.
And you seriously cannot listen to this song now without thinking of Saturday Night Live’s infamous “The Californians” sketch–which always brings a smile to one’s face.
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Number Five: “Africa” By Toto
“Africa” by Toto
Set against the backdrop of Africa, this quintessential love song (full of existential questions and ideas of love bigger than place) couldn’t be farther away from the California coast and the yacht scene if it tried. Yet, the intoxicating rhythms transport you to a faraway (possibly tropical) place, cementing it as a perennial Yacht Rock favorite. Incidentally, the band members tend to resent this categorization of Yacht Rock heroes. SteveLukather told Rock’s Backpages: “A lot of people categorize us as ‘that ‘Africa’ or ‘Rosanna’ band,’ and I hate that s–t. We have a lot more substance than that. Don’t get me wrong – those songs have been great to us, but you really don’t understand the depth of the band if that’s all you know.”
Number Six: “Sailing” by Christopher Cross
“Sailing” by Christopher Cross
This classic Yacht Rock song speaks for itself so I’m not even going to try and add anything.
Number Seven: “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Croft
“Summer Breeze” by Seals and Croft
Again, I feel it would be a disservice if I even tried to pontificate on why this is an important Yacht Rock anthem.
Number Eight: “Come Sail
“Come Sail Away” by Styx
Sailing + late 1970’s = Yacht Rock.
But I also love this song because of South Park’s famous version sung by the one and only Cartman.
Number Nine: “Ya Mo Be There” by Michael McDonald
“Ya Mo Be There” by Michael McDonald
I’ll be honest; I’m not really a fan of this song but I had to include it just as a warning not to over do it with the Yacht Rock, or else you might find yourself thinking “I’m gonna Ya Mo Burn this place down” just like Paul Rudd in “40 Year Old Virgin.” But before you do, save room for the Pina Colada…
And my all time personal favorite Yacht Rock song, Number 10: “Escape (Pina Colada)” by Rupert Holmes
“Escape (Pina Colada)” by Rupert Holmes
(Warning–aside from an opening cameo from the Village People, this video’s pretty bad. Bad hair, bad glasses, bad hand dancing/pointing, and a lavender Members Only jacket! Umm, yeah. So, please proceed with caution…)
Well, I don’t know about you, but I feel like we should all have a big karaoke party on a beach with awesome frozen beverages with cute little umbrella straws. Cheers to fun summertime music…all year round!
In fact, Yacht Rock will add a breezy, laid back flare to any festive Holiday Party–including New Year’s Eve. So be sure to Pin This for all-year round fun!
Leave me a comment with your favorite Yacht Rock song! I’d love to hear it!
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HI! I’m a Shana, self-proclaimed Media Mixologist, wife, and mom to two little girls. I love to mix up cocktails of crafts, recipes, wellness, family and business with just the right amount of sparkle to help you shine everyday. So, grab a glass, and let’s celebrate the cocktail of life!