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YMMV / The Beach Boys

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  • 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.
  • Better Than Canon:
    • Even with the release of both Brian and The Beach Boys' versions of Smile, there are still some fans who prefer various bootlegs/fanmixes, particularly those that combine the two.
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    • Though Sunflower was not considered as a double album (though several tracklistings produced enough material for it) this hasn't stopped people coming up with their own 2LP versions of it.
  • Broken Base:
    • There is a substantial division between people who think Brian is the second coming of Christ and people who think he indirectly held the Beach Boys back after his breakdown.
    • Mike Love is often criticised for turning the group into an oldies act in the 80s, but the uncertainty after several unpopular albums, Dennis's death and Eugene Landy's prevention of Brian from working much with them meant that he didn't have a whole lot of choice (and the remaining group members - including Brian's late brother Carl - agreed with him.)
  • Covered Up:
    • Songs mainly associated with the Beach Boys in spite of the fact that they didn't record them first include "Little Girl (You're My Miss America)" (originally by Dante and his Friends), "I'm So Young" (originally by The Students), "Barbara Ann" (originally by The Regents), "Sloop John B" (a traditional folk song), and "I Can Hear Music" (a cover of the Ronettes).
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    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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.
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    • 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 1974, their original label Capitol Records released Endless Summer, a compilation of their old hits which summitted the band's status as an oldies band. To ride off of this, an attempt was made to bring Brian back to the band's forefront in 1976, 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, the divisive The Beach Boys Love You, and the unreleased Adult/Child. 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 (with occasional 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, though the actual sales number is rumored to be even less) 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 to put a cherry on top: Carl Wilson, often regarded as the band's best singer, died two years after the album's release. 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 industry laughingstocks and back again, 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. Unfortunately, this victory was short-lived, as Brian, Al, and David Marks (who re-joined for the reunion after decades of absence) were kicked out of the band by Mike Love, and the Beach Boys went back to being a live band.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Dennis Wilson, transitioning from pretty-boy drummer to highly sophisticated songwriter in nothing flat.
  • Face of the Band: Brian. Though Dennis and Carl both have a lot of fans. For the first couple of years, it was Mike.
  • Fandom Rivalry: There's a bit of this with The Beatles, in part because the two bands themselves had something of a friendly rivalry during the 1960s where they kept trying to top each other's records.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Most fans would prefer to believe that the band stopped making records after the 1970s, or that they broke up after the deaths of Dennis (or Carl).
  • Fridge Brilliance: "When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)" ends with a repeated coda listing ages, whilst Brian sings "won't last forever, it's kind of sad"...and to underline the point of the lyrics, it ends far sooner than you expect it to.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • A comedy sketch "'Cassius' Love Vs. 'Sonny' Wilson" from Shut Down Volume Two, has Mike Love and Brian Wilson engaged in a mock-insult war in the studio. Later on, Mike would sue Brian for publishing royalties and song credits over songs with lyrics Mike wrote, after Brian got control of his '60's publishing company back.
    • "I'm Bugged At My Ol' Man" from Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) is the lament of a teenager who has been grounded by his father for staying out too late, with the specifics of his punishment exaggerated and Played for Laughs. At least, we hope they were exaggerated. It would later come out that Murry Wilson, father of three members of the band, including the song's vocalist and songwriter Brian Wilson, had a history of physically and emotionally abusing his sons. This makes lines like "I wish I could see outside/ but he tacked up boards on my window" seem less humorous than they were originally meant to be.
    • 1988's "Kokomo", with its references to Caribbean vacation-paradise islands, lost some of its charm when Montserrat ("...that Montserrat mystique...") was economically and geographically devastated by the Soufriere Hills volcano in the '90s.
      • Aruba, the very first place mentioned in the lyrics, is now best known to Americans for the Natalee Holloway disappearance.
    • 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.
  • 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!, particularly the second side. The upward trend culminated with the incomplete Smile and Brian Wilson's breakdown. Depending on how you look at it, they either subsequently went through a Dork Age, or the other members grew their own beards (figuratively and literally. Though Bruce Johnston only grew a mustache).
  • Memetic Mutation: "Brian Wilson is a genius!"
  • 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.
  • Mis-blamed: People blame Mike Love for everything that went wrong with the Beach Boys. While he deserves some blame, most of the accusations toward him are grossly simplified, and in some cases, could be applied in equal measure to Brian or the other group members.
  • 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: Carl and Brian's voice along with the original group blend.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Mike Love's infamous acceptance speech at the 1988 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Carl Wilson was so horrified that he handed his award over to one of the performers and said "Our career is over".
    • Another infamous piece of history that Mike will forever be associated with is saying "don't fuck with the formula", whether or not Mike actually said it (he claims he didn't). 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.
  • Older Than They Think: A lot of the band's post-'60s output was written (and sometimes recorded) several years before making it onto an album.
    • "Darlin'" (released on Wild Honey in 1967) and "Back Home" (released on 15 Big Ones in 1976) were both written in 1963 and not for a particular album. The unfinished album "Smile" and early versions of "Sunflower" produced a number of songs that ended up on later albums as well.
  • The Pete Best: David Marks, who was with the group from 1962-1963, until he returned to the group in 1997 to fill in for Carl Wilson, becoming a more regular member after Wilson's death. Marks missed out on the group's massive surge of popularity thereafter, though he remained a legal member of the group until 1967.
  • 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.
  • Seasonal Rot: After Pet Sounds, though their early '70s albums have been Vindicated by History.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: In spades. Most people think of the Beach Boys as a campy baby-boomers boys band, and even when Pet Sounds is brought up, the impact and innovation of the album can be lost on many young listeners who didn't grow up during the era.
  • Signature Song:
    • "Good Vibrations" is the most recognized songs of their mid-late 60's line-up, even reaching #1 on the US charts.
    • "California Girls", according to Brian.
    • "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.
  • 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!: Despite its critical acclaim, a good chunk of the band's main audience, who were mainly exposed to the sun, surf and girls imagery of their earlier work, didn't know what to make of Pet Sounds' orchestrations and introspective lyrics when it was first released. By the same token, the concept could just as easily apply to fans who did not take to the Beach Boys' music regardless of quality without Brian Wilson's involvement or his studio experimentations.
  • Too Cool to Live: Dennis and Carl Wilson.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • The sketch used on the Swedish picture sleeve for the single of "Do You Wanna Dance?". The band's faces look unnerving, to say the least. Especially Al Jardine's.
    • The cover of the Time-Life compilation Beach Boys: 1962-1967. The band's faces were obviously sourced from another picture, slapped on top of their bodies and very poorly retouched, resulting in them looking very unnatural.
  • Vindicated by History: Despite having some hit singles like "Sloop John B" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice, 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 15 Big Ones have been vindicated, as they didn't get much notice upon release, but has since gained recognition, albeit not to the extent Pet Sounds has.
  • The Woobie: Brian Wilson, in every possible way.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?:
    • 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.
    • Mike Love's a legend when it comes to clothing, particularly his many hats.


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