Hot Surprise Influence: Michael McDonald
Four decades after his ultra-smooth vocals on Doobie Brothers classics like "What a Fool Believes" made him an easy-listening staple and a rock-critic punching bag, Michael McDonald is having a renaissance. Credit the legendary Yacht Rock Web series of the mid-aughts with kick-starting his rediscovery; artists from Daft Punk to Solange have since taken cues from his sleek effervescence. "Dude is a saint," says Kendrick Lamar pal/avant-soul artist Thundercat. Says McDonald, who just released Wide Open, his first album in 17 years, "It's flattering." E.L.