Yacht Rock Episode 4
Steve Porcaro (Steve Agee), the keyboard player of the band Toto, is asked by his girlfriend, Rosanna Arquette, to write a song about her, and she wants him to have Michael McDonald sing on the track.
Discouraged by McDonald's disdain for his band, Porcaro devises a three-step plan to make it happen.
J. D. Ryznar and Hunter D. Stair devised the series after noticing the incestuous recording careers of such bands as Steely Dan, Toto, and The Doobie Brothers and the singer-songwriters Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald. For example, McDonald co-wrote Loggins' "This Is It" and Loggins co-wrote McDonald's band The Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes" and also performed backing vocals for several other 'yacht rock' artists, including Steely Dan and Christopher Cross. Yacht Rock's episodes were "hosted" by "Hollywood" Steve Huey, a legitimate music critic for Allmusic." It should be noted that the term "Yacht Rock" is never used throughout the series by any characters except for by Huey during his introductions, instead it is always referred to as "Smooth Music".
Ryznar admits to having a fascination with the music of the period. Ryznar explains, "Getting into Steely Dan really started this for me. As did the ability to buy dollar records at Amoeba and put them on tapes for my car. Kenny Loggins has made his way into all the pilots I've been involved with except [one]." As Ryznar told Reuters contributor Andy Sullivan, "I'm making fun of the songwriting process, but the music is generally treated pretty lovingly."
The series depicts some realistic aspects of the music, but builds exaggerated storylines around them. For example, main protagonists Loggins and McDonald receive inspiration from a fictional Yacht Rock impresario named Koko Goldstein, whose death in Episode 2 ultimately leads them to go their separate ways musically. Another example is the series' presentation of several real-life characters. McDonald is an idealistic and earnest singer/songwriter, but takes both Smooth Music and himself far too seriously. Loggins is his easygoing friend and frequent collaborator who eventually abandons Smooth Music in favor of commercial rock and roll in the 80s, which strains their friendship. The portrayal of John Oates as the abusive, foulmouthed leader of Hall & Oates, exerting sometimes violent control over the milquetoast Daryl Hall, is clearly different from reality, in which Hall is the main lead vocalist and songwriter with no hint of a rivalry. Christopher Cross is depicted as a wide-eyed, timid newbie whose song "Sailing" is lauded as the "smoothest song ever". Loggins' former partner Jim Messina is a bitter wino who hates Loggins for his success and perceived betrayal. Michael Jackson is depicted as a hard-rock enthusiast who believes his partnership with guitarist Eddie Van Halen will lead to an endless parade of female sexual conquests. Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, the Doobie Brothers' lead guitarist, is seen threatening to kick McDonald "out of the Doobies" if he doesn't write them another hit. The real Baxter did bring McDonald into the band but, as they achieved their greatest commercial success, Baxter left the Doobie Brothers because of his displeasure with their new commercial sound and attitude. The Eagles (portrayed here as jock-like meatheads) and Steely Dan (portrayed as snarky nerds, with Donald Fagen speaking in an incoherent babble of Scat) really did insert lyrical references to each other in their music, as depicted in the show, but these were actually friendly in nature, not part of a longtime grudge involving baseball bats and lunch-money shakedowns.
The series was written, directed, and produced by Ryznar, co-produced by David Lyons and Hunter Stair, and edited by Lane Farnham. The production has a "bad-on-purpose aesthetic".
Yacht Rock debuted at Channel 101's June 2005 screening. It placed in the top five at subsequent screenings until the June 2006 screening of its tenth episode, where it placed seventh and was canceled.
However, the show remained a popular download on Channel 101, convincing the creators to make an 11th episode independently. This episode, featuring Jason Lee as Kevin Bacon, debuted during a screening at the Knitting Factory in New York City on December 27, 2007. A month later, Channel 101 themselves included it in a screening, and hosted it on their website along with the other episodes on January 28, 2008.