Friday, October 1, 2021

"Kokomo" by The Beach Boys

#1 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Song#:  3630
Date:  09/03/1988
Debut:  96
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  28
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Like their 70s period, the 80s were a little rough for The Beach Boys. While they did manage to get three songs in the Pop Top 20, none of them truly reignited their career. They got a bit of a boost guesting on The Fat Boys' "Wipeout! (#12), but it didn't generate enough interest for them to pursue a new album (they hadn't released one in four years). Then they got an opportunity to write and record a song for an upcoming Tom Cruise flick titled Cocktail. The filmmakers wanted a song for a scene where Cruise goes from NYC to Jamaica and asked The Beach Boys to supply one. Working with producer Terry Melcher, the group (minus Brian Wilson) came up with "Kokomo" and it would be used in the film and placed on the soundtrack album. It would be issued out as a single in July of '88 prior to the film's release, but it didn't get any attention. Then the film turned into a box office hit and people picked up on the track. It would debut low on the Pop chart, but it quickly gained speed and ended up making it to #1. The last time The Beach Boys had a chart topper was with 1966's "Good Vibrations." At the time they set a record for the longest time between #1 hits (Cher would later break that record with her #1 "Believe" in 1999). The single would sell well enough to go platinum and it would help send the Cocktail soundtrack to #4. It would eventually sell over four million copies. The unexpected hit put the band in the spotlight once again it afforded them the opportunity to assemble a new album, which would be release nearly a year later in '89. Unfortunately, their sudden resurgence faded just as quickly and this song would be the band's last to make the Pop Top 40.

ReduxReview:  This is a tune that I think is both loved and reviled. While a ton of people have enjoyed the breezy, Caribbean feel of the track with its sing-a-long lyrics, many folks have hated it with the tune even ended up on a few "worst" lists. I'm sort of half 'n' half. Sure, it's a goofy tune and when compared to a lot of The Beach Boys' catalog it pales in comparison. However, it is catchy ear candy and I find it difficult to not get caught up in its escapist sound and theme. It's fun to hear, but definitely not all the time. Once in a great while I'll get a kick out of the tune, but frankly I'd rather listen to most anything in the band's earlier catalog, especially Pet Sounds.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Many folks have heard of the town in Indiana by the name of Kokomo, but the song alludes to it being a place in the Florida Keys. Well, that place does not exist. The song's co-writer, John Phillips (of the Mamas & the Papas) thought Kokomo fit the tune well and chose it to represent a tropical paradise where folks could escape.  2) While Cocktail did do well at the box office, it was pretty much savaged by critics. It would go on to win two Golden Rapsberry Awards; Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay. Cruise was nominated for Worst Actor. Oddly, later in '88 Cruise starred in Rain Man with Dustin Hoffman. The film went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture. That made Cruise thus far the only actor to star in a Worst Picture and Best Picture in the same year.


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