Yacht Rock, a 1970s and 1980s-era subgenre has recently experienced a boom in popularity. Its distinctive fusion of jazz, R&B, and soft rock components has enthralled audiences and created a new fan base. Yacht Rock has evolved into the go-to music for individuals looking to unwind and escape from the rigors of daily life because of its calming melodies, layered harmonies, and catchy hooks.
In this article, we’ll examine in more detail ten of the best Yacht Rock songs that have become timeless favorites. These songs, which range from the comforting melodies of The Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes” to the memorable hooks of Toto’s “Africa,” have withstood the test of time and continue to enthrall listeners. We’ll discuss what makes these songs unique and ideal for those long days spent on the lake or leisurely evenings on the patio, whether you’re a lifelong admirer of the genre or new to it. Take a drink, relax, and join me as we embark on a musical tour of the best Yacht Rock has to offer.
10 of the Best Yacht Rock Songs
1. “Sailing” by Christopher Cross
An undeniable Yacht Rock classic, “Sailing” won Christopher Cross the Grammy for Record of the Year in 1981. The song’s dreamy lyrics and soothing melody perfectly encapsulate the feeling of being at one with the water. It is the ideal soundtrack for an afternoon spent sailing or simply enjoying the ocean breeze. With its gentle instrumentation and Cross’s calming vocals, “Sailing” transports listeners to a peaceful, sun-drenched world where worries and stress drift away.
2. “What a Fool Believes” by the Doobie Brothers
Written by Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, “What a Fool Believes” showcases The Doobie Brothers’ signature sound with smooth, soulful vocals and intricate keyboard work. Released in 1979, this Grammy-winning song topped the charts and remained a fan favorite for its catchy melody and relatable lyrics about unrequited love. With its polished production and infectious energy, “What a Fool Believes” remains a Yacht Rock staple that continues to captivate audiences.
3. “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille
Captain & Tennille’s 1975 hit “Love Will Keep Us Together” is a quintessential Yacht Rock ballad celebrating love’s power. The song’s upbeat tempo, irresistible hook, and Daryl Dragon’s masterful keyboard playing make it a timeless classic that resonates with listeners today. It’s difficult not to get carried away by this uplifting hymn to love and dedication as Toni Tennille’s sincere vocals flawlessly meld with the song’s infectious tune.
4. “Steal Away” by Robbie Dupree
A prime example of Yacht Rock’s laid-back vibe is “Steal Away” by Robbie Dupree, a smooth and sultry hit that made waves in 1980. The song paints a picture of a spontaneous, romantic escapade with its memorable chorus, funky groove, and Dupree’s soulful vocals. From its breezy synths to its driving beat, “Steal Away” encapsulates the carefree spirit of Yacht Rock, making it a must-listen for fans of the genre.
5. “Africa” by Toto
“Africa” by Toto, released in 1982, is a beloved Yacht Rock anthem that has stood the test of time. The song’s unforgettable melody, lush harmonies, and captivating storytelling have made it a favorite for listeners worldwide. With its vivid lyrics and soaring chorus, “Africa” transports listeners to a vast, uncharted landscape of adventure and romance. Its distinctive blend of rock and world music elements makes this track an enduring classic.
6. “Peg” by Steely Dan
Jazzy and sophisticated, “Peg” by Steely Dan showcases the band’s trademark fusion of rock, pop, and jazz. Released in 1977, the song’s infectious groove, polished production, and impeccable musicianship have made it a Yacht Rock staple. Featuring Michael McDonald on backing vocals, “Peg” is a prime example of Steely Dan’s knack for creating intricate yet accessible music. With its bright horns, unforgettable guitar riff, and smooth harmonies, “Peg” has earned its place among the Yacht Rock elite.
7. “Baby Come Back” by Player
“Baby Come Back” by Player is a quintessential Yacht Rock ballad that tugs at the heartstrings with poignant lyrics about lost love. The 1977 song’s deep melody, memorable chorus, and longing vocals have made it a timeless classic that appeals to listeners even now. As the song builds to its unforgettable climax, “Baby Come Back” reminds us of the power of love and the enduring appeal of Yacht Rock’s smooth sound.
8. “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” by Hall & Oates
A sultry, funk-infused hit, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” by Hall & Oates, showcases the duo’s signature blend of pop and soul. Released in 1981, the song’s irresistible groove, catchy hook, and Daryl Hall’s smooth vocals have made it a fan favorite. With its irresistible beat and effortlessly cool vibe, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” is a standout track in the Yacht Rock genre that still gets people moving on the dance floor.
9. “Hey Nineteen” by Steely Dan
Another Yacht Rock classic from Steely Dan, “Hey Nineteen,” is a smooth, laid-back tune that perfectly captures the band’s signature sound. The 1980 song’s catchy melody, clever lyrics, and easygoing groove have made it a favorite among listeners.
“Hey Nineteen” is a classic example of Steely Dan’s ability to create timeless music that transcends fads and is still relevant today thanks to its unusual fusion of jazz, pop, and rock components.
10. “Biggest Part of Me” by Ambrosia
Rounding out our list is “Biggest Part of Me” by Ambrosia, a 1980 hit that showcases the band’s trademark blend of soulful vocals, lush harmonies, and smooth instrumentation. With its heartfelt lyrics, soaring chorus, and polished production, the song has become a Yacht Rock classic that still resonates with listeners. As the song builds to its emotional crescendo, “Biggest Part of Me” is a fitting tribute to the enduring appeal of Yacht Rock’s smooth sound.
From sun-soaked afternoons on the water to romantic evenings under the stars, Yacht Rock’s timeless tunes uniquely transport listeners to a world of relaxation and nostalgia. These ten Yacht Rock songs, with their smooth melodies, soulful vocals, and catchy hooks, serve as a testament to the enduring appeal of this beloved subgenre. As more and more people discover the magic of Yacht Rock, its classic tracks continue to sail into the hearts of new fans, proving that this smooth sound is here to stay.
Jason Butler is the owner of My Money Chronicles, a website where he discusses personal finance, side hustles, travel, and more. Jason is from Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Savannah State University with his BA in Marketing. Jason has been featured in Forbes, Discover, and Investopedia.