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Week 2 Power Poll: Yacht Rock

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The King of Yacht Rock Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Yacht Rock is a musical genre that came out of a short video series* created by JD Ryznar in 2005. The genre is most generally defined as “smooth music” and more specifically includes certain soft rock songs that were primarily created between the late 70s and early 80s. Yacht Rock has grown in popularity from its auspicious beginnings as a cult video series; there is now a touring band called the Yacht Rock Revue and a limited run SiriusXM station called Yacht Rock.

*If you want to see fake Skunk Baxter threaten to kick Michael McDonald out of The Doobie Brothers, how Warren G wrote “Regulate”, and some other things, check it out.

As to what is considered authentic Yacht Rock, the creators of the video series have created a handy webpage where they rate a song based on the Yachtski scale. If it is 50 or above, it is Yacht. If it is below 50, it is Nyacht. Every* song on the list today has been certified as Yacht.


A sad purple line and a happy red dashed line

#1 Penn State: “What a Fool Believes” - The Doobie Brothers

“What a Fool Believes” is the only song that rates a 100 on the Yachtski scale. It is the standard by which all other Yacht Rock songs are measured. It was written by YR luminaries Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, the Doobies provide a great groove, and McDonald nails the vocals.

Penn State sits atop the poll this week, and they seem to be firing on all cylinders after smashing Akron Pitt on Saturday. But only a fool believes that the Nittany Lions are going to roll over everyone this season.


#2 Michigan: “This is It” - Kenny Loggins

Loggins and McDonald also co-wrote this one, which is one of YR’s great pump-up songs. If players in the late 70s listened to music on headphones as many players do today, many would have used this as pre-game music.

I could see Harbaugh shouting lines from this to his team between gulps of milk. “This is it! Your back’s to the corner! This is it! Stand up and fight!”

After putting it to Florida and Cincinnati, Michigan has looked pretty good this year, but it remains to be seen what happens when they play a team from a decent conference.


#3 Wisconsin: “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” - Michael McDonald

Mr. McDonald is back with another smooth hit, which was sampled by Warren G in “Regulate”. With help from ace studio musicians Jeff Porcaro and Steve Lukather, members of Yacht supergroup Toto, McDonald weaves another smooth tale about getting dumped.

Wisconsin to me is the team that I forget about when mentioning the power teams of the conference. They’ve been in the upper tier of the conference for so long, but I generally don’t think of them as favorites to win it all.


#4 Ohio State: “Boys of Autumn” - David Roberts

I don’t know much about David Roberts, but “Boys of Autumn” came out before Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer”. So Henley is a hack who steals seasonal song themes.

This song relates more to Oklahoma than Urban meijer’s Buckeyes. “Boys will be boys / And you won't forget those boys of autumn”. If Ohio State can turn into the “Boys of Late Autumn”, they may still have a chance at a playoff spot.


#5 Maryland: “Africa” - Toto

So Texas starts the season overrated, and then Maryland beats them, so we overrate Maryland. That very well could be the case, or maybe Maryland is good this season? It’s hard to tell much from a blowout win over Towson.

Toto is Yacht Rock royalty. Their members routinely show up as session players on other classic YR tunes, and they have some classics as well. I think Maryland is the closest B1G school to Africa, so they get “Africa”.


#6 Iowa: “Same Old Fool” - Dolly Parton

Iowa managed a comeback OT victory over the always good Iowa St. Cyclones on Saturday. While it was an oddly offensive affair, Kirk Ferentz, the “Same Old Fool”, got another win. Ferentz seems like he’s been coaching the Hawkeyes as long as Dollywood has been open, and he’ll probably still be coaching at Iowa long after we’re all dead and gone.


#7 Minnesota: “Sailing” - Christopher Cross

The Gophers won the rodent battle this week over the Beavers, but we don’t really know what to make of this Minnesota team. They may be good, but maybe not very good?

If you are “Sailing”, then you certainly aren’t rowing a boat, but it’s still a boat. So Minnesota gets this Christopher Cross (not to be confused with Kriss Kross) classic.


#8 Michigan State: “Breezin” - George Benson

The voters so far haven’t been too impressed with the Spartans, but I challenge you to not be impressed by the smoothness of George Benson’s “Breezin”.


#9 Nebraska: “Lowdown” - Boz Scaggs

That sure was a good second half by the Husker defense against Oregon. Too bad they were already beat by the time the first half was over.

Boz Scaggs sings of “the sad, sad truth, the dirty lowdown”, and Nebraska fans have to know that he is talking about the sad, sad truth that the Huskers are not a great team.


#10 Indiana: “Heartlight” - Neil Diamond

So Neil Diamond watched ET and loved it. So much that he wrote a song about it called “Heartlight”. The song is referencing ET’s glowing heart. If Kevin Wilson was still the coach, and one of the players’ hearts started glowing, would he take them out of the game?

Anyway, IU seems like they are OK this year.


#11 Purdue: “In A Little While (I’ll Be On My Way)” -Art Garfunkel

Purdue has a good (or at least) fun football team! It is crazy how much a head coaching change can turn around a program. If things keep up, Jeff Brohm will be singing, “In a Little While (I’ll Be On My Way)” and he’ll head up to South Bend.


#12 Illinois: “Human Nature” - Michael Jackson

Most people wouldn’t think of The King of Pop when talking about Yacht Rock, but “Human Nature” is so so smooth. And it asks the eternal questions about Illini football: “Why? Why?”

The song also has an answer as to why a 2-0 Illinois team is ranked so low: “Tell em it’s just human nature (to think Illinois is bad at football).”


#13 Northwestern: “Moody Girl” - Frank Stallone

Who is at fault for Northwestern’s abysmal performance against Duke on Saturday?

You guessed it, Frank Stallone.


#14 Rutgers: “Deacon Blues” - Steely Dan

This Steely Dan classic has not been officially rated on the Yachtski scale yet, but if this isn’t Yacht Rock, then nothing is. It is a perfect song for Rutgers as well:

They got a name for the winners of the world
Rutgers wants a name when they lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call Rutgers “Deacon Blues”

RIP Walter Becker