Songs Of The Day 7/19/2015: Rupert Holmes – “Terminal” + “Everything Gets Better When You're Drunk”

Yacht Rock Underground – I didn’t realize it when I planned this week back in February when the birdies were singing, but this year marks Yacht Rock’s tenth anniversary. Yacht Rock is truly one of the internet’s shiniest hours, up there with “Leave Britney Alone” and David Hasselhoff’s shower cheeseburger.

Barn-burning storytelling that perfected intentionally bad production values, Yacht Rock parodied the history of a very specific brand of ’70s and ‘80s soft rock over twelve episodes on early web humor outlet Channel 101. The protagonists of the series were Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, depicted as yacht rock’s primary standard-bearers on the basis of their co-writing the Doobie Brothers’ hit “What a Fool Believes” (actually a pretty sound thesis). They come into contact and confrontation with other progenitors of the form like Christopher Cross, Steely Dan and Toto, as well as neighborhood threats Hall & Oates.

Although the fake origin stories are played for convulsive laughs, even Michael McDonald, who loved the series, suggested it possessed at least a kernel of truth. John Oates, the show’s super-villain, credited it with reviving Hall & Oates’ status and ushering in their most recent renaissance. But for all of us who remember that soothing, gelatinous strain of ’70s pop-rock, Yacht Rock was important because it gave the sub-genre an actual name. And once the Yacht Rock name took hold, it had immediate meaning: Two months into its life in the lexicon everybody knew exactly what kind of music you were talking about. Now it covers a wider range of artists who made smooth music in the ’70s. We even have Canadians under this umbrella, fer Chrissakes.

This week I’m going through the archives of musicians who made at least one or two notable yacht rock hits at some point in their career (except for the last one who I’m throwing in because of executive privilege) and uncovering other items in their catalog that either fit the form perfectly or (especially in Monday’s case) wholly defied it with some weird-ass shit.

First up is Rupert Holmes, who delivered a nearly quintessential artifact of the form, “Escape (The Piña Colada Song).” I mean, come on – it’s got a tropical drink right there in the parenthetical title. Holmes was a fairly tweaked, somewhat deviant storyteller when his career began: His first hit as a songwriter was a morbid tale about cannibalism. He did not do away with extreme quirk when he started doing his own songs. There’s something untoward about the commuting adulterers in “Terminal.” I don’t want that much information. However I positively love the level of detail in “Everything Gets Better When You’re Drunk,” especially the bit about having “marengo veal with potatoes lyonnaise on the side.” And that’s just in the very first stanza, folks. Wait until his business partner breaks his crown. Slick as that song is, I do find the social satire legitimately amusing. Flush down the Dramamine, nervous seafarers: This week’s gonna be a smooth ride.

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