YMMV / The Beach Boys

  • Archive Panic: 27 studio albums, a massive supply of unreleased songs and outtakes, hours of studio sessions, a frankly absurd amount of Smile material, and an endless deluge of illuminating footage of concerts, interviews, promos, and other assorted segments. And people keep discovering new stuff all the time.
  • Awesome Music: Has its own page.
    • Pet Sounds, SMiLE, Sunflower and Surf's Up.
    • "Good Vibrations", at the time it was produced, was already being hailed as one of the greatest pop singles ever recorded. More than 50 years later, its reputation hasn't faded one little bit.
    • For each individual member (bar David Marks):
      • Brian Wilson: "Surf's Up"
      • Carl Wilson: "The Trader"
      • Dennis Wilson: "(Wouldn't It Be Nice to) Live Again"
      • Mike Love: "Big Sur"
      • Al Jardine: "Lady Lynda"
      • Bruce Johnston: "Disney Girls (1957)"
      • Blondie Chaplin: "Sail On, Sailor"
      • Ricky Fataar: "We Got Love"
    • The 1997 stereo remix of Pet Sounds deserves special mention. There's just so much more you can hear in the music compared to the original mono version. In particular, the descending trombone on the chorus of "Here Today" is much, much more prominent. And is just one of the greatest things ever.
  • Better Than Canon: Even with the release of both Brian and The Beach Boys' versions of Smile, there are still a good number of people who prefer various bootlegs/fanmixes, particularly those that combine the two.
  • Breakaway Pop Hit: "Kokomo" provided the band with a very unexpected #1 hit in 1988 upon being featured in the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail.
  • Broken Base: The albums the Beach Boys recorded prior to 1973 are pretty much universally agreed to be great, and the ones after 1977 are agreed to pretty much suck (each for the most part), with the stuff in between falling squarely into divisive territory.
    • What's more, their pre-1973 era can itself be divided between the earlier surfing/cars/girls hits and the more sonically and thematically ambitious (and less commercially successful) material from Pet Sounds onward. The former accounts for most of the group's airplay on oldies radio and attracts audiences to the Mike Love-led touring band, while the latter is the basis for most of the group's critical acclaim and the inspiration for indie-rock revivalists like the Elephant 6 Collective bands.
  • Covered Up:
    • The Beach Boys did not write "Barbara Ann"; it was a cover of a song by a doo-wop group called The Regents. Nor did they write "Sloop John B", which was actually a reworked version of a West Indies folk song (variously known as "The John B. Sails" and "The Wreck of the John B.").
    • Nor did they write "I Can Hear Music". The song was originally performed by The Ronettes, and although the Phil Spector influences are unmistakable in the Beach Boys' cover, the song is still mainly associated with The Beach Boys.
    • "Little Girl (You're My Miss America)" and "I'm So Young", to the point most people can't name their original artists.
    • In the other direction, the Beach Boys wrote and performed the original version of "Little Honda". However, it was the Hondells, a studio group produced by Gary Usher, who had a Top Ten hit with the song.
      • "Custom Machine" became a minor hit for the duo of Bruce & Terry (future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston and future Byrds producer Terry Melcher).
  • Critical Dissonance: Pet Sounds was one of the first albums to have this happen, drawing critical raves but comparatively slow sales.
    • "Kokomo" was and continues to be slammed by critics and hardcore fans alike, but that didn't stop it from becoming a #1 hit back in 1988 and from being one of their most well-known songs overall.
  • Ear Worm: "Wouldn't it be nice!"
    • "Round round get around... I get around!"
    • "Everybody's gone surfin'/Surfin' U.S.A."
    • "I've been in this town so long that back in the city I've been taken for lost and gone..."
      • A complex ear-worm? Absurd!
      • The "Heroes and Villains" harpsichord motif in and of itself. Rather fittingly, one of the songs incorporating it is "Do You Like Worms?".
    • "Ding! (Ding!) Dang! (Whoo!) Ding and a ding dong! Ding! (Ding!) Dang! (Whoo!)..." note 
    • "Darlin'" was acknowledged as being pretty damn catchy in an episode of The Big Bang Theory when Sheldon keeps humming the tune without knowing the name of the song before finally remembering it.
    • Acually... about 60% of The Beach Boys' output was just made out of worms...
  • Dork Age:
    • By 1966, the Beach Boys were regarded as one of the top innovators of pop music (albeit mostly in the UK) with the release of their revolutionary album Pet Sounds. Brian Wilson intended to follow up with an album called SMiLE, intended to be Brian's Magnum Opus. Long story short, the project fell apart due to a multitude of factors (a few of which include Brian's rapidly declining mental health at the time and, depending on who you ask, Mike Love) and a stripped-down version called Smiley Smile was released in its place, to the disappointment of many (although the album has since been Vindicated by History), and it all went downhill from there.
    • Brian Wilson rapidly withdrew from the band from that point on, and his brothers, Carl and Dennis Wilson, rapidly took over leading the band for him as their songwriting abilities grew. This led to some cult-classics like Wild Honey and Sunflower (the latter being considered to be one of the Boys' greatest albums). Unfortunately, they were never able to achieve the same commercial success as their 1960s hits, nor did their albums come close to being as critically revered as Pet Sounds.
    • By 1973, Carl and Dennis's leadership diminished due to substance abuse and Dennis's struggling battle with his own inner demons, and in 1976, an attempt was made to bring Brian back to the band's forefront, which included making him tour with the Beach Boys again (he previously quit touring with them in 1965 due to mental health issues) and produce several more albums. The result was the underwhelming 15 Big Ones and the love-it-or-hate-it The Beach Boys Love You. Brian quickly receded back into the background as it quickly became clear that he was in no shape to continue touring or produce anymore Beach Boys albums, and spent the remainder of the 70s and most of the 80s undergoing therapy by the infamous Eugene Landy.
    • At this point, Mike Love has taken role of the leader, and many fans agree that the band quickly went downhill under his leadership. Throughout this period, the Boys released a series of increasingly hated and poorly selling albums (including a thinly-veiled attempt at catering to the disco crowd during the disco backlash), while their 1960s chart-toppers (in addition to Heroes and Villains and songs from Pet Sounds) dominated their live set to attract the nostalgic crowd. The death of Dennis Wilson in 1983 also served to be a serious blow to the band. Their reputation rapidly declined further, and by the end of the 70s, the Beach Boys were looked down upon by the mainstream as a washed-up oldies band.
    • However, in the mid-to-late-80s, the band managed to briefly propel themselves back into relevancy with their 1988 hit single "Kokomo", which was famously featured in the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, although these days it's considered to be one of their worst songs. Mike Love, in an attempt to make lightning strike twice, spearheaded production for their 1992 album Summer in Paradise (their first and only album without any involvement from Brian Wilson whatsoever), intended by Love to be "the quintessential soundtrack of summer". It was promoted with the band guest-appearing on the popular sitcom Full House (with one of the actors from the show, John Stamos, singing a reworked version of "Forever" on the album) and performing the album's lead single, "Summer of Love", on the action drama series Baywatch. Despite the band's best efforts, the album bombed spectacularly (selling only around 10,000 copies ever) and is considered to be the band's absolute worst album.
    • The band attempted to follow up with a cover album of old Beach Boys songs sung by country singers, this time with Brian Wilson's (who was recently separated from Landy and administered proper treatment for his mental illnesses) involvement, albeit with little input from him. The result was Stars and Stripes Vol. 1, which was a critical and commercial failure, failing to break the Billboard 200. Any further Beach Boys projects were shelved indefinitely, and Carl Wilson died two years after the release of the album. The band limped through the 2000s as a live band while Brian Wilson distanced himself from the Beach Boys and went on to have a successful solo career (including the completion and release of the long awaited SMiLE.)
    • In short, the Beach Boys slowly went from one of the most critically acclaimed rock acts of all time to the industry laughing stock and back, and is presumed to be the reason why so many Beach Boys fans deeply resent Mike Love. While the albums that came after Pet Sounds and before 15 Big Ones went on to become cult classics (again, YMMV on Love You), people prefer to forget about anything they did after that. However, they finally climbed out of the dork age with the well-recieved 2012 reunion album That's Why God Made the Radio.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Dennis Wilson, transitioning from pretty-boy drummer to highly sophisticated songwriter in nothing flat.
    • Murry Wilson got his own cartoon series.
    • Among the people who have written lyrics for the band, Roger Christian is gaining a following for writing the lyrics for "Little Deuce Coupe" and "Don't Worry Baby".
    • The production and songwriting work of Gary Usher has also gained a following thanks to his collaborations with Brian Wilson.
    • Bruce Johnston had the daunting task of taking Brian's place as the bassist and pianist after Brian quit touring. He managed to do well, though, and became a valued member of the band. Plus, he wrote "Disney Girls (1957)", which is certainly worthy of respect.
  • Face of the Band: Brian. Though Dennis and Carl both have a lot of fans. For the first couple of years, it was Mike.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Most fans would like to forget that the Boys kept making albums after Holland.
    • 1977's Love You is the last Beach Boys album of new material which is generally respected amongst the fanbase. It's also the last album before Mike Love generally took over. Coincidence?
  • Fountain of Memes: Murry Wilson's drunken ramblings that were caught on the "Help Me Rhonda" session tapes feature one quotable line after another. Besides the immortal "I'm a genius too" there's also "loosen up sweetie", "sing from your heart", "syncopate it", "you don't appreciate the good help I've given you," and on and on.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The 1964 Album Filler track "Cassius Love vs. Sonny Wilson" features Mike and Brian playfully insulting each other and mocking each other's singing styles. Not so funny in light of the real life hostilities that eventually developed between them.
    • There's also Brian's "I'm Bugged at My Old Man". Given what we now know of Brian and Murry's relationship, the track is more than a little uncomfortable to listen to.
    • 1988's "Kokomo" contains a reference to "that Montserrat mystique" among its litany of tropical vacation-paradise islands. Most of the island of Montserrat was rendered uninhabitable by volcanism in the 90s, and its devastated economy is still struggling to recover.
    • Early pressings of the All Summer Long album mis-labeled the song "Don't Back Down" as "Don't Break Down". Took on a whole new meaning with Brian's deteriorating mental and emotional state as the '60s progressed.
  • Gateway Series: Along with The Beatles, The Beach Boys are a common entry point for '60s rock and psychedelia in general. Pet Sounds is also a common gateway for Baroque Pop.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: During the late '60s and early '70s when the band was tanking in America, they found much greater success elsewhere, especially in Europe. Examples include:
    • "Do It Again" (#20 US; #1 UK and Australia)
    • "Bluebirds Over The Mountain" (#61 US; #9 Netherlands)
    • "I Can Hear Music" (#24 US; #4 Netherlands)
    • "Break Away" (#63 US; #6 UK)
    • "Cotton Fields" (#103 US; #1 Australia, Norway, and Sweden)
  • Growing the Beard: The Beach Boys Today! marked the point when they moved from simple pop-rock songs to something more sophisticated, a transition that would reach its fullest flower with Pet Sounds.
  • Heartwarming Moments: Any of their ballads, especially "Don't Worry Baby", "God Only Knows" and "Forever".
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Bruce Johnston appeared as a life guard in the music video for "Getcha Back". Several years later, the band guest starred in an episode of Baywatch.
  • Memetic Mutation: AH-UUM-BOP-DIDDIT, AH-UUM-BOP-DIDDIT...
    • I'm a genius, too.
    • I'm pickin' up good vibrations/She's givin' me excitations (Ooh, bop bop, good vibrations/bop bop, excitations (Good, good good, good vibrations))
    • "Don't fuck with the formula."
    • "WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN"
  • Memetic Molester:
  • Misattributed Song: You have to feel sorry for Jan and Dean. Even though they preceded the Beach Boys, they were ultimately overshadowed by them, and even worse, many of their hits are often erroneously assumed to be Beach Boys songs.
    • This isn't helped by the fact that Brian Wilson co-wrote several of their songs, and even provided backing vocals for "Surf City". And the fact that the Beach Boys covered one Jan and Dean hit ("The Little Old Lady from Pasadena") on their first live album, while Dean Torrance actually sang lead on one Beach Boys hit ("Barbara Ann"), does absolutely nothing to clear up the confusion.
  • Mis-blamed: People blame Mike Love exclusively for the collapse of Smile, when in reality the cause was much more complicated, with factors including not just Mike Love, but also the other Beach Boys, Van Dyke Parks, Capitol Records, a royalties lawsuit, Brian Wilson's own ailing psyche, and Mike Love.
  • Moment of Awesome: A good 38 years after Smile was aborted, Brian Wilson finished it.
  • Mondegreen: "Caroline, No" was originally called "Carol, I Know", but Brian misheard it as Caroline. They decided to go with the new title anyway.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: You'll never hear anything more angelic than Carl Wilson's voice in your life.
    • Brian's voice isn't far behind.
    • ALL of their voices, actually. All 9 of them were very good lead singers, but it's the combination of their voices, blending perfectly in some of the best vocal harmonies in music history that makes the Beach Boys' music.
    • Gotta give some credit to Chaplin and Fataar, too. People tend to be split on whether Chaplin's soulful voice was a good fit for the Beach Boys sound, but most everyone agrees his performances are great.
  • Older Than They Think: Bruce Johnston may very well have laid the groundwork for what would become Psychedelic Rock in a track from his second studio album Surfin' Around The World called "Virginia Beach". It contained some heavy, distorted guitar work, wild keyboards, a crazy sax track and heavy drum beats that really hadn't been heard at that point. Keep in mind, this was in 1963!
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Mike Love's acceptance speech at the 1988 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. To say this speech is infamous is a MAJOR understatement. Ever seen footage from a wedding where the speech-giver's completely drunk and acts like a total jerk the whole time? This is pretty much what Love's speech will remind you of. Mike Love was a total savage in this speech, acting really angry for no reason at all and taking shots at the fellow inductees. Carl Wilson was so horrified that he handed his award over to one of the performers and said "Our career is over". Oh, you want to know why Mike was acting so moody that night? He explained years later that he forgot to meditate that day. Not making this up, folks.
      • The speech was so notorious it became a meme that very night! Elton John and Bob Dylan both noted in their subsequent speeches "Thank God Mike Love didn't mention me." Mike Love also took shots at The Beatles, but was later filmed having a friendly chat with Ringo Starr, so some wonder if the whole thing was in jest. Then again, it's Ringo, and it takes a lot to get him riled up.
    • Another infamous piece of history that Mike will forever be associated with is of course the "Don't fuck with the formula" quote. Whether or not Mike actually said it (he claims he didn't) the fans will never let him forget about it. Hell, The Other Wiki has an entire page dedicated to it.
    • "Darlin'" is sadly going to spend a long time being known as "the Shamy song" due to it being featured on an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Just look up any upload of the song on YouTube and look at the comments.
  • Painful Rhyme: A few, generally falling under Narm Charm. But, there's zero excuse for this gem from the ill-fated 1977 Christmas album sessions
    "Melekalikimaka" is "Merry Christmas" in Hawaii talk-a.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Mike Love and Al Jardine on Holland; Mike penned "Big Sur", and Al penned "The Beaks of Eagles" and "California". All three of these songs are sublimely beautiful, melancholy, and poetic. The same can be said about Bruce Johnston with "Tears in the Morning" from Sunflower and "Disney Girls (1957)" on Surf's Up.
  • The Scrappy: Mike Love is mostly remembered for either being the primary factor in the collapse of Smile, perpetuating The Beach Boys as a corny nostalgia act even to this day, or both.
    • The subreddit devoted to the band features a picture of Love as the downvote button, which gives an idea of how many fans dislike him.
    • He even lampshaded this in his autobiography:
    "For those who believe that Brian walks on water, I will always be the antichrist."
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: In spades. When most people think of The Beach Boys, they do not think "group that elevated pop and rock to the level of classical alongside The Beatles" as much as they think "campy baby-boomers boys band" (what doesn't help is that even today, their earlier surf rock-era material is much more well known in the mainstream than anything from their Pet Sounds-era and beyond).
    • Even when Pet Sounds is brought up, the cultural impact and innovation of the album can be lost on many young listeners who didn't grow up during the era.
    • S Mi LE can also get this, particularly since it wasn't actually officially released until decades after it was written and recorded. Had it been released in 1967, it would surely be regarded as a crucial precursor to Progressive Rock, but given that many other bands later wrote song cycles that were even more ambitious and intricate, many younger listeners, and even some who were around for The '60s, can have a difficult time comprehending how revolutionary the album was for its time.
  • Signature Song: "Surfin' U.S.A., "I Get Around", "Good Vibrations".
    • "Forever" and "God Only Knows" are such signature songs for Dennis and Carl Wilson that on their 2012 reunion tour, the Boys performed the two songs using a large video projector with old footage of Dennis and Carl singing the lead vocals.
    • "California Girls" has become very popular again recently due to a Katy Perry song with a very similar title ("California Gurls").
  • So Bad, It's Good: Love You has this reputation to some.
  • Squick: The song "H.E.L.P. Is on the Way" provides a fair amount of this, as no one wants to imagine Mike Love stark naked in front of a mirror. It only gets worse as the band begins to describe stomach pumps and enemas.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Mike Love hated Pet Sounds, saying it was "fucking with the formula." The album also confused the teeny-bopper fanbase, even if it's in hindsight one of the greatest albums of all time.
  • Too Cool to Live: Dennis and Carl Wilson.
  • Uncanny Valley: The sketched version cover for the single of "Do You Wanna Dance?". The band's faces look unnerving, to say the least. Especially Al Jardine's.
  • Vindicated by History: Despite having a hit single with "Sloop John B.", Pet Sounds was not a big seller initially. Years later it would be recognised as one of the greatest pop albums of all time.
    • You can say that their albums between Pet Sounds and Holland have been vindicated, as they didn't get much notice upon release, but has become incredibly popular since.
  • The Woobie: Brian Wilson, in every possible way.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: Mike Love's a legend when it comes to clothing, particularly his many hats.
    • The group were still donning their trademark candy-striped shirts as late as 1967, which did absolutely nothing for their hipness quotient at the time.
  • Yoko Oh No: There seem to be multiple camps in the Beach Boys fandom over whether or not Brian's latest wife Melinda is a controlling she-devil, the only reason Brian's doing so well today, or both.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/TheBeachBoys