The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys, together with estranged sonic genius Brian Wilson for the first time in decades, played the first show of their reunion tour last night in Tucson, playing a long set of classics that included a few covers and the brand-new reunion single “That’s Why God Made The Radio.” (They also did “Kokomo.” Sorry.) Right on schedule, the studio version of “That’s Why Got Made The Radio” has made its way into the world in the form of a lyric video. And even if these guys still hate each other — and I have no idea if they do — the single works as final proof that nobody has ever been able to replicate their harmonies, even though thousands of bands have tried. Give it a listen, and check out the setlist for last night’s show, below.

01 “Do It Again”
02 “Catch A Wave”
03 “Don’t Back Down”
04 “Surfin’ Safari”
05 “Surfer Girl”
06 “The Little Girl I Once Knew”
07 “Wendy”
08 “Then He Kissed Me” (Crystals cover)
09 “This Whole World”
10 “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” (Frankie Lymon And The Teenagers cover)
11 “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)”
12 “You’re So Good To Me”
13 “In Them Old Cottonfields Back Home”
14 “Be True To Your School”
15 “Disney Girls”
16 “Please Let Me Wonder”
17 “Don’t Worry Baby”
18 “Little Honda”
19 “Little Deuce Coupe”
20 “409″
21 “Shut Down”
22 “I Get Around”
23 “Sloop John B”
24 “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”
25 “Forever”
26 “Sail On Sailor”
27 “Heroes and Villains”
28 “In My Room”
29 “All This Is That”
30 “God Only Knows”
31 “That’s Why God Made the Radio”
32 “California Dreaming” (Mamas and the Papas cover)
33 “California Girls” (David Lee Roth cover) (Just kidding)
34 “Dance Dance Dance”
35 “All Summer Long”
36 “Help Me Rhonda”
37 “Rock and Roll Music” (Chuck Berry cover)
38 “Barbara Ann”
39 “Surfin’ U.S.A.”
40 “Kokomo”
41 “Good Vibrations”
42 “Fun Fun Fun”
(via Rolling Stone)

42 songs! They’re earning that reunion-tour money.

Comments (28)
  1. I actually love this.

  2. I want to hate this song because of those inane lyrics but damn those harmonies are pretty.

  3. Key change!

  4. Great composition, but I can’t tell why that production sounds so cheeseball…there’s something really lame about that bass tone. There’s something lame about the whole thing kind of. I can’t put my finger on it…anyone? It’s clearly an awesome song (well, ignoring the lyrics…I don’t think Beach Boys lyrics have ever mattered,) but there’s just something about this recording that diminishes it.

    • you know its cheese as fuck when the bullshit 90s computer graphics actually compliment the song.
      and the lyrics did matter with the smile sessions – i think if these had never come out and we were comparing to kumkafartmo, this might come off a bit better.

      • The video is retarded – it definitely doesn’t help at all.

        I dunno, the lyrics on Smile, as well as Pet Sounds, are still mostly lame. Don’t talk…put your head…on my shoulder…the Beach Boys always wrote pure unadulterated shlock. Then, eventually, crazy shit about taking care of your feet. If we’re comparing to contemporaries, Beatles, Stones, Kinks…they’re the only ones who, in the mid 60s, are still singing about their Woody and about gettin married to their best gal on Big Sur, like…it’s garbage nonsense. This is coming from a guy who has the melody to God Only Knows tattooed on his back.

        So yeah, it’s cheese as fuck, but not really lyrically compared to anything else they’ve ever done.

        • interesting point – although I think smile took lyrics to an interesting place for such a mainstream act. they’re like an additional instrument, although I’m thinking largely of Surf’s Up (the song).

          obvious question: can we see a pic of that tat?

    • There’s nothing “organic” sounding in the recording. The bass and keyboard (and even the drums) sound excessively digitally processed. The drums have a particular arena-like crap treatment on them. Good thing the song is decent.

      • Yeah, I think you’re right… it’s the rhythm section juxtaposed with the over-reverbed vocals…it’s not cohesive, and winds up sounding like a granddad wedding band. Especially the staccato guitar hits…Someone needs to take this whole song and rerecord it with new words. I wish Brian Wilson would just stop trying to write these crud things. He could probably write some amazing Brian Eno style pieces using his harmonic sensibility. Talent wasted.

  5. No need to apologize about “Kokomo”. I have a great misunderstanding for the general dismissal of the song, yet acceptance of other Beach Boys early hits, some of which were recorded with such little care but regarded rather well. “I Get Around” comes to mind (Brian Wilson was creatively breaking away at the time). I think it fits well into their canon, if filed under their earlier work.

    And plus, most things with Muppets are intrinsically better.

    • Kokomo is hated by many BB fans for what it represents, as well as for the song itself. The song itself is incredibly cheesy, not horrible but just disposable, nothing special. It’s like a bad Jimmy Buffet imitation. It doesn’t fit with their classic stuff because it’s from 1987 or so. They sounded so different after 20 yrs.

      What the song represents is a cynical grab at money and legitimacy by the hated Mike Love. It’s aimed at the black-socks-and-sandals crowd that goes to see Love’s act, thinking they’re the Beach Boys, when he’s the only original BB up there. He didn’t even write or compose it himself.

      As for I Get Around, Brian Wilson took alot of care writing and recording it. He didn’t start to break away from the BBs until after Smile, in ’67.

  6. i smell mike love

  7. I still can’t get over that Mike Love’s nephew is on the freaking Minnesota Timberwolves.
    Or that Kevin Love’s uncle is a freaking Beach Boy.

  8. I’m pretty sure Nikola Tesla made the radio; God made Spotify.

    Anyway, this song hurts my ears. Not because it’s particularly bad, but because it’s just too damn loud and overproduced.

  9. It reminds me of the medleys in the big Vegas-style production shows I played while working on a cruise ship. Besides having that touch of Brian Wilson’s genius, of course.

  10. surprised no one noticed that ‘that’s why god made the radio’ shares the same melody of the ‘midnight cowboy main theme’ by john barry…listen carefully

    as for what I think of the new single, yeah, the lyrics may be day-glo pedantric at the very least they vocally sound brilliant…their trademark vocal blend is still there after all these years…look forward to hearing all of ‘celebration’

  11. Sometimes I try to imagine how hard it must have been to invent the first-ever working radio, then I stop and remember, oh yeah, God invented that.

  12. I truly love the Beach Boys body of work. The Pet Sounds, Surfs Up and Holland Album especially stand out as iconic pieces of work but this song, wow.. their is so much to dislike but mainly the production sounds way to manufactured, way to slick. My feelings are summed up here:

  13. Brent Armstrong is right. The song copies “You Only Live Twice” and “Midnight Cowboy” note for note.
    The topic of this site should be the copying that took place whether conscious or sub-conscious.

    I’m also very surprised people are not hearing this. Go to you tube and listen to the instrumental opening of “You Only Live Twice,” a James Bond theme. Then listen to “Midnight Cowboy.” Lastly, listen to the
    title hook phrase “that’s why God made the radio.” It’s the same melody.

    I do not approve of copying. Brian Wilson is fully capable of writing his own music.

  14. I can see what people mean by the comparisons to ‘You only live twice’ and ‘Midnight cowboy’ (particularly You Only Live Twice) but I really don’t see that as copying. It’s only two bars of the chorus and it’s hardly rip-off or more people would’ve noticed it. I reckon Brian (and whoever else helped in writing the song) could easily have come up with that without influence from the other examples. And even if it was taken from those, it would’ve been subconscious. Although there are unlimited variations in music, it’s not impossible to come up with something similar by chance.
    Agree with the whole production thing though. Brilliant harmonies and I love the progression in the chorus, but it really does sound like an old band cleaned up. Oh well, at least they’re still making music!

  15. Sam said, “It’s only two bars of the chorus and it’s hardly a rip-off or more people would’ve noticed it.”

    Listen closely Sam. The melody of the two bars you refer to is the identical melody of the two prior songs and it occurs six times in The Beach Boys song as the main theme. How is that not copying?

    As to people noticing, there are few people under thirty-five who ever heard the two prior songs. It is mostly older people who would be familiar with the two prior songs.

    The Beach Boys may have attained permisson to copy the melody of the two prior songs, but make no mistake. Their song is not original since the melody of the title hook phrase is identical to the melody of the two prior songs and repeats six times.

    Brent Armstrong is right in his post. People should be listening to all three songs on you tube and commenting on this site.

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