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Set sail with yacht rock

Hall & Oates

Hall & Oates Photo Credit: Getty

It's that time of year. Time to head to the Hamptons, sit on your 45-foot yacht and try not to think about depressing things, like "poor people."

Wait ... you don't have a yacht? Are you serious? Fine - at least try to sound like you do.

"Yacht rock" is the name given to those songs of the late '70s and early '80s that sound like the sea, as long as the sea features recreational drug use, gold-digging models shotgunning champagne and a ton of synthesizers. It's main evangelists are acts such as Michael McDonald, Hall and Oates (performing Saturday at Jones Beach) and Christopher Cross.

While the origin of the term is somewhat murky, it was made famous in 2005 with the debut of an online video series of the same name, with fictionalized accounts of the major music players of that era.

Since then, some of the artists have been rescued from obscurity, showing up on film soundtracks (Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams Come True" appearing in "(500) Days of Summer" being a prime example), becoming staples of DJ sets (see sidebar) and enjoying the benefits of a renaissance only slightly grounded in irony.

Here are a few tracks to help you rock that blue blazer and captain's hat:

'Sailing'
Christopher Cross
The alpha and omega of the genre. If you don't know "Sailing," you don't know yacht.

'Rosanna'
Toto
Toto won six Grammys in 1983 for its album Toto IV, which gave the world both "Rosanna" and "Africa." This actually happened.

'What a Fool Believes'
The Doobie Brothers
Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins and Skunk Baxter all on the same track. It's Yacht rock's Miami Heat, but less obnoxious.

'Hey Nineteen'
Steely Dan
Older men trying to pick up younger women. Why else does one buy a yacht?

'Human Nature'
Michael Jackson
Yes, let's go there. One of Jackson's earliest big hits was written by Toto's Steve Porcano and is just as smooth and laid-back as any other song in the genre.

'Sara Smile'
Hall & Oates
The duo brings the blue-eyed soul to this classic, which has found homes in smooth jazz (thanks to a Boney James cover) and country (Jimmy Wayne's 2009 version made the country charts).


Deep cuts from the Captains

With a packed schedule that sees them spinning in clubs from coast to coast, the Captains of Industry rarely find themselves hanging out on an actual yacht. But that won't stop Graham Funke and StoneRokk (who will perform at Public Assembly in Brooklyn on June 30) from playing some of the finest yacht rock throughout the summer with Regatta Chic Sundays at Marquee DayClub in the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

amNY caught up with Funke to get his list of go-to yacht rock deep cuts.

George Benson's "Breezin'"
"This is a song that captures the essence of a nice day at sea, and does so impeccably without any prose attached; the lush strings and virtuoso's musings do all the work."

Rupert Holmes' "Him"
"True, his hit single "Escape" might seem more fit here with all the talk of sand dunes and tropical drinks, but it is this lesser known tune that possesses a driving rhythm and some falsetto "oohs" to get us over the swells."

Kenny Loggins' "This Is It"
"With crooner Michael McDonald on back-up vocals, this track has no choice but to triumph, as these men are shining beacons in the genre, which may come as a surprise to those unfamiliar with Yacht Rock, as their massive success is usually associated with supergroups and soundtracks."

Robbie Dupree's "Steal Away"
"There are instructions evident here which could be interpreted to involve an automobile, but we all know that's not the case. These folks, real or imagined, have their schooner pointed towards the reflection of the moon on calm waters, with any and all pleasing taking place below deck."

Carly Simon's "Why"
"A seaworthy song by singer from New York, with a music video filmed in New York, from the soundtrack to a movie set in New York, produced by New York disco svengalis Chic? Absolutely. It is an undeniable groove that holds promise for a variety of antics aboard any vessel of your choice, regardless of its urban inception."

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