Let me preface this by saying you can put whatever floats your boat on your yacht rock playlist—it’s really not that important. That said, yacht rock is an actual, defined genre and it has some fairly specific parameters. For instance, ‘70s soft rock isn’t necessarily yacht, nor is every nautically-themed song of the era. (And Jimmy Buffett is Caribbean-tinged novelty country for tourists and aspirational drunks.) Yacht rock is the smooth, impeccably produced jazz- and soul- inflected rock music produced largely between 1977-1984 by a select group of studio musicians and vocalists, songwriters, and producers, and the project bands they drifted in and out of. The four key ships in the yacht rock armada are Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers, Kenny Loggins, and Toto, with the commodore being, of course, Michael McDonald. The first mates are David Foster and Jay Graydon, who are somehow involved in pretty much every yacht rock album of note. The crew includes the Pocaros—particularly Jeff on drums—the Pages on vocals, Steve Lukather on guitar, Steve Gadd, and a several other well-known session musicians you'll see over and over again. Electric piano is a usually a must; acoustic guitars, strings, and tropical instruments such as steel drums are usually a must not. The result is that most of the artists associate with yacht rock aren’t (America, Air Supply, Chicago, Eagles, Gerry Rafferty, Jimmy Buffet), and many of the artists that are aren’t well known, such as Airplay, Dane Donohue, Larsen/Feiten Band, Maxus, Pages, and Terrence Boylan. Yacht rock themes usually reflect the ennui of the era; the end of relationships, futile, fleeting hookups with pretty young things, drugs and booze, nostalgia for the simple pleasures of the early ‘60s, and longing to leave it all behind and escape to someplace warm and exotic. The Fool is the protagonist of many of the songs. Adding to the confusion is Westcoast, a genre similar to, but distinct from yacht rock. As the Brits have Northern Soul, the Scandinavians have Westcoast. One is an obsession with obscure '60a soul singles, the other an obsession with obscure '70s smooth singles. Westcoast includes yacht rock, but also smooth jazz, silky downbeat disco, and soul in the sweet spot between the earthier funk of the early ‘70s and the mawkish Quiet Storm era of the mid-to-late ‘80s. Al Jarreau, The Brothers Johnson, Brenda Russell, Dave Gruisin, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Lee Ritenour, and Raydio—along with obscure gems like Breakaway, Byrne & Barnes, Jaye P. Morgan, and Dan Mastroianni—all fit nicely under the Westcoast umbrella. Since there seems to be a lot of confusion about yacht rock, I hope this helps. And please, no more Buffett.