Yacht Rock Essentials

Yacht Rock Essentials

In 2005, the actor/screenwriter J.D. Ryznar wrote, directed, and produced a TV series for the Los Angeles short-film festival Channel 101 called Yacht Rock. The idea was to tell comically overblown backstories about the creation of a strain of ultra-smooth music from the late ’70s and early ’80s. Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins—to paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s 1964 description of obscenity, you know it when you hear it. As entertainingly corny as some of the tracks here are, they also represent some of the era’s more serious songwriting efforts, exploring themes of longing and regret with a muted tension not even the slickest production could fully smooth over—a sense of contrast and depth the music doesn’t always get due credit for. Interestingly, as mainstream as these tracks were, their richest second life came in the form of 2010s electronic subgenres like vaporwave, which took the soft-focus quality of the music to surreal extremes. For now, though, lock in, settle down, and surrender to the breeze.

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