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"Yacht rock" season is here: WCCO's favorite tunes for smooth sailing into summer

The Doobie Brothers, still going strong
The Doobie Brothers, still going strong 08:37

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's been a long, long ... long winter. But with the arrival of the Memorial Day weekend and, with it, the unofficial start of the summer season in Minnesota, we thought it best to don our captain's hat and set sail.

And what better way to do it than with a fresh 'CCO playlist of our team's favorite "yacht rock" tunes?

What is "yacht rock," you ask? The genre is a little a bit loosely-defined and flexible, but generally, it's the music from the '70s and early '80s that has that soft rock, smooth L.A. pop sound. Think Hall & Oates, Toto, Kenny Loggins, and Christopher Cross. It's a genre that's absolutely never edgy, but almost ... defiantly square?

Music critics of the day were busy bowing to the brash energy of punk rock and New Wave, but "yacht rock" was where all the true studio musicians and craftspersons were making their mark. It couldn't have taken but 10 minutes for the Sex Pistols to write "Anarchy in the U.K." Meanwhile, Steely Dan's Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were spending obscene amounts of money and forcing dozens if not hundreds of takes to get the absolutely perfect, pristine drum fills and guitar licks.

In honor of summer's arrival, we asked members of the WCCO news team to share their favorite tunes from this still ascendant retro genre.

Seals and Croft, Captain & Tennille, Boz Scaggs, Bread, and Ambrosia. It's all here! And running about 4 hours and 30 minutes, it's the perfect length for a languorous sail around Lake Minnetonka.

And don't look now, but we may also be compiling our favorite '90s songs sometime next week in honor of the potential first 90-degree day of the year!

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