Posts Tagged ‘Yacht Rock’

Yacht Rock (2005 – 2008)

April 29, 2019

Yacht Rock is a sub-genre of soft rock also known as West Coast Sound and Adult-Oriented Rock. While I was previously unaware of the term, I was well aware of this sub-genre. It is characterized by soft, floaty music with a general smoothness to it. It draws from soul, jazz, R&B, funk, and disco but pretty much the softer portions of all of those. According to the Internet, the sub-genre focuses on melody rather than beat, light emotions even when singing about sad things, and a focus on catchiness. Musicians of the genre include Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald, Hall and Oates, and Kenny Loggins (especially during his partnership with Jim Messina). A lot of what is considered Yacht Rock is not really my scene because it is too slow and soft for me. However, many of the artists involved later made songs that I love. I especially love later Hall and Oates stuff like Maneater and Private Eyes which have a harder beat. Kenny Loggins also went on to create hard-driving soundtrack songs instead of smooth jams.

But I’m not here to talk about the actual sub-genre of Yacht Rock. At least, I’m not here to talk about it directly. Instead, I recently got clued into a comedy web series of the same name that first came out in 2005. Written, Directed, and Produced by J. D. Ryznar, the Yacht Rock series was part of something called Channel 101. When talking with friends and loved ones, I find that many do not know what Channel 101 is. Basically, Channel 101 is a web video collective, short film festival, and competition. The idea was that many people would submit web videos as a sort of pilot and people would vote for each video. If you got enough votes, you got your web video expanded into a series. Most submissions were edgy, surreal, or both but everything I have seen is strange and funny. The most famous thing to come out of Channel 101 is Rick and Morty created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, two goofball friends who made a lot of weird stuff for Channel 101.

The series is a mockumentary video series done in an intentionally low budget style. The series within a series is introduced and researched by a complete weirdo whose introductions become increasingly problematic. Each episode concocts various scenes that explain how various songs of the genre (and later contributions from the artists) were put together. The main characters are Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Hall and Oates, and a fictional music guru named Koko who leads the Yacht Rock movement. Other bands such as Toto, the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, and Captain and Tenille are also featured. Michael McDonald is cast as the hero of Yacht Rock, constantly championing the cause of smooth music. Kenny Loggins is his friend and they are constantly having fights based on Loggins’ ventures into harder rock and Hollywood. Hall and Oates are the local bullies, constantly bro-ing it up and getting in everyone’s faces. Koko is trippy and kind of a cult leader.

While it was produced throughout the 2000s, it looks like it was taped on VHS in the nineties. Props and costumes are purposefully slapped together to look pathetic and comical. It feels a lot like something one might film to attach to their application to film school or something a bunch of kids do in their garage. The acting is purposefully bad but a lot of these guys are the future comedy writers of today and it shows. They all have great comic timing and do a great job even when they are trying to do a bad one. Part of this is the writing which is very surreal but also very endearingly funny. It all clearly shows a love for the music business. While the stories in each episode are fantastical and completely inaccurate as to the songwriting process, they show how much the music is adored for its cheesiness. Also, it takes great care in making these artists into characters and correctly attributing their songs to them. Occasionally, the show does stray from Yacht Rock. My favorite part when they do that is when they talk about how Warren G’s “Regulate” samples Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’).

(Written on 4/27/19)

 


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