The end of the summer is fast approaching. Listening to the Beach Boys, the original boys of summer, is a great way to keep images of the beach, the surf and beautiful girls in your mind well into winter. To keep the summer going, here is a list of their top 10 songs.
1. “Good Vibrations” – Smiley Smile, 1967
“Good Vibrations” is one of those tracks that you actually might use the ‘repeat’ button on. The unique use of the theremin is the headline, but those lead vocals by Carl Wilson are incredible. As soon as someone says that they’re “pickin’ up good vibrations,” you know immediately what they are talking about.
2. “California Girls” – Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!), 1965
The great thing about a Brian Wilson production is that it makes pop songs about girls seem like classical compositions meant to be in played in a symphony hall. That introduction to “California Girls” is wonderful and without that, the song seems like just another Beach Boys track.
3. “The Warmth of the Sun” – Shut Down, Vol. II, 1964
It’s all about the vocals here and the emotional reaction they can produce. Brian Wilson and Mike Love wrote the song on the day of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and you can get that feeling of melancholy from the lyrics and performance.
4. “God Only Knows” – Pet Sounds, 1966
“If you should ever leave me, my life would still go on, believe me.” That’s probably the most depressing opening to a love song ever, but it is one of the most beautiful. It’s a song that speaks for itself, thanks to the power of Carl Wilson’s lead and Brian Wilson’s timeless production.
5. “Help Me, Rhonda (Single Version)” – Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!), 1965
There are two versions of “Help Me, Rhonda.” While the first is a little adventurous, the second, more straightforward version that was a #1 single is the better one.
6. “Fun, Fun, Fun” – Shut Down, Vol. II, 1964
Let’s just hope her daddy never does take that T-Bird away.
7. “Add Some Music To Your Day” – Sunflower, 1970
Most people don’t realize this, but the Beach Boys make a lot of great music between “Good Vibrations” in 1967 and “Kokomo” in 1988. “Add Some Music…” is one of those great tracks where all of the guys take turns on lead vocals (except Dennis Wilson). The lyrics sum up just what music does for people.
8. “Surf’s Up” – Surf’s Up, 1971
Had it come out in 1967 as planned, “Surf’s Up” might have been The Beach Boys’ “A Day In The Life” – a single track that has the power to epitomise the greatness of a band. As it is though, the track is just an underrated masterpiece on an underrated album named for it. Van Dyke Parks’ lyrics go so far beyond a ‘surf’ song. It is about the world, humanity and nature.
9. “Do It Again” – single, 1968
The Beach Boys really stunk with their timing, because if “Do It Again” came out a few years earlier, it probably would have been one of their biggest singles. Still, the track did hit #20 and is one of their best straightforward beach songs.
10. “Break Away” – single, 1969
This track was a complete bomb, but once you listen to it, it’s hard to imagine why. The lyrics are about moving on and hoping for better times. When the song came out, it began to look like the Beach Boys were going to end up as a forgotten relic of the 1960s. However, we still remember them thanks to Brian Wilson’s resurgent solo career and Mike Love & Bruce Johnston’s constant touring as The Beach Boys.
Deputy Editor Daniel S Levine is a longtime movie fan and a graduate of Hoftsra University. I also know just about everything you might need to know about Star Wars.