If You Want to Succeed in Yacht Rock, You'll Need a Ridiculous Name

Sparked by a popular online video series by the same name, Yacht Rock, the genre of music produced by artists such as Christopher Cross and Kenny Loggins during the late 1970s and early 1980s, has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts over the past several years. The term yacht rock comes from the nautical references that many soft rock artists of that era included in their songs, and, more generally, the laidback feeling the music inspires.

Today, a handful of cover bands don nautical attire—and, in some cases, fake mustaches—to pay tribute to the likes of Toto, Boz Scaggs, and Steely Dan. In an effort to better understand the phenomenon, I caught up with Topper Dandy, the leader of the Virginia-based yacht rock band Three Sheets to the Wind.

Funny Names

One of the common characteristics of a yacht rocker is a ridiculous stage name.

The other members of Three Sheets to the Wind include Captain Max Power, Danny Marnier, Sonny Pocket, Walter Ego, Christian Meat, and David Buoy. The Knights of Monte Carlo, a California-based yacht rock band, feature Doc Spiders, Nelson JC Borealis, Brad Bayliner, and Bobby Colada.

“The number one rule we’ve had since day one is to take the music seriously, but never ourselves,” Dandy says.

The members of the Atlanta-based Yacht Rock Revue have eschewed the use of fake names, but they don’t take themselves too seriously, either. Their Facebook page describes their sound as “The music you listen to at the dentist’s office while getting your teeth cleaned.”

The Yacht Rock Fanbase

Yacht rock cover band fans run the gamut from 50- and 60-somethings who grew up listening to soft rock, to a younger following that may be hearing the songs for the first time.

“It's not necessarily a nostalgia kick,” Dandy says of the yacht rock experience. “For some it is, of course, but because the shows are a participatory experience for the audience--dressing nautically, rocking fake mustaches, drinking Jack & Tab--there's an appeal for people simply looking to go out and have a good time.”

A good time is what yacht rockers aim to provide, and Three Sheets to the Wind will play more than 40 gigs this year. “Ultimately, that’s what yacht rock bands do—provide an experience through music that incorporates the image and the lifestyle of the ‘smooth’,” Dandy says.

The Online Series and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

In 2005, an online video series titled Yacht Rock profiled the fictionalized lives of soft rock stars including Loggins and McDonald during the genre’s peak. The series was canceled after 12 episodes but it inspired a number of today’s yacht rock cover bands. John Oates of Hall & Oates credits the series with resurrecting interest in his music, while McDonald said he thought it was hilarious. Jimmy Fallon has featured two yacht rock parties on his late-night show in recent years, with Christopher Cross and Robbie Dupree performing live.

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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50 Years of Monday Night Football's Memorable Theme Music

iStock
iStock

Monday Night Football turns 50 years old today—notably on a Monday! And as the Raiders and Saints warm up for tonight's kickoff, fans will know it's game time when they hear four distinct, descending notes. But it wasn't always that way. The biggest game of the week has been soundtracked by a handful of theme songs, starting back on September 21, 1970.

When Monday Night Football premiered on ABC, it was accompanied by the thoroughly groovy, Hammond organ-heavy “Score” by Charles Fox. The composer had previously written the theme for ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and he would later make a name for himself doing the theme songs for Happy Days and The Love Boat, as well as composing Roberta Flack’s Grammy-winning “Killing Me Softly with His Song.”

“No network had ever programmed a regular sporting event in the evening in prime time,” Fox wrote in his autobiography, and though no one could know what a juggernaut the show would become, he set about writing a funky soul-jazz tune. The song was released under the alias “Bob’s Band”—presumably because Fox was employed at the time by Bob Israel’s Score Productions, a music company specializing in theme songs and background music.

Fox retained its rights over that song, but the show moved on to a new opener after a few years. “Monday Night Football is still on the air, but my theme was replaced after seven years by someone named … Bob Israel,” Fox wrote of his former boss. Well, almost. First, there was a version simply called “ABC – Monday Night Football Theme” that aired from 1976 to 1981. Then in 1982, Israel’s Score Productions was brought in to update that song. The three composers of the 1976 piece unsuccessfully sued for copyright infringement.

Then, in 1989, Johnny Pearson’s “Heavy Action” rang in a new era of watching live sports from the comfort of your La-Z-Boy. Though the company had retained the rights to the song a decade previously, they used it primarily as background music and didn't make it an official theme until '89. The first four notes of the British composer’s opener became synonymous with American football, and the song is likely one of the most widely and easily recognized themes in television history.

Also in 1989, country star Hank Williams Jr. reworked his earlier hit "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" into a bar-room blues rocker that spoke of "turning on [his] TV for some pigskin fun." The song was a huge success and ran in various forms on the program for over 20 years. Williams enthusiastically growling "Are you ready for some football?" became as identifiable to the show as the opening notes of "Heavy Action."

Unfortunately, in 2011, Monday Night Football (which in 2006 moved from ABC to ESPN) dropped Williams' theme after he made controversial statements about President Barack Obama on Fox News. The network reverted to featuring "Heavy Action" most prominently, and in 2015 they reworked the theme yet again. That intro, which ran before each of the season's games, featured archive videos and computer generated players to highlight some of the greatest plays and playmakers in the history of the broadcast.

In 2017, Hank Williams Jr. and all his "Rowdy Friends" made their way back to the top of the football broadcast, but they've been replaced again in 2020 for Monday Night Football's 50th anniversary season with a cover of Little Richard's "Rip It Up," courtesy of Butcher Brown.

Yeah, we're definitely ready for some football.