Kokomo (song)

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"Kokomo"
Single by The Beach Boys
from the album Cocktail and Still Cruisin'
B-side"Tutti Frutti"
ReleasedJuly 18, 1988 (US)
October 4, 1988 (UK)
Format7" single
12" maxi
RecordedMarch 22, 1988, April 5–6, 1988
GenrePop, tropical
Length3:35
LabelElektra Records
Capitol (reissue)
Writer(s)Mike Love, Scott McKenzie, Terry Melcher, John Phillips
ProducerTerry Melcher
The Beach Boys singles chronology
"Happy Endings"
(1987)
"Kokomo"
(1988)
"Still Cruisin'"
(1989)
 
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"Kokomo"
Single by The Beach Boys
from the album Cocktail and Still Cruisin'
B-side"Tutti Frutti"
ReleasedJuly 18, 1988 (US)
October 4, 1988 (UK)
Format7" single
12" maxi
RecordedMarch 22, 1988, April 5–6, 1988
GenrePop, tropical
Length3:35
LabelElektra Records
Capitol (reissue)
Writer(s)Mike Love, Scott McKenzie, Terry Melcher, John Phillips
ProducerTerry Melcher
The Beach Boys singles chronology
"Happy Endings"
(1987)
"Kokomo"
(1988)
"Still Cruisin'"
(1989)

"Kokomo" is a song written by John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, Mike Love, and Terry Melcher and recorded by The Beach Boys in spring 1988. Its lyrics describe two lovers taking a trip to a relaxing Caribbean island called Kokomo, which is said to only be seen by those of pure heart. It was released as a single on July 18, 1988 by Elektra Records and became a No. 1 Hit in the United States, Japan, and Australia (where it topped for about two months). The single was released to coincide with the release of the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail, and its subsequent soundtrack. It was nominated in the Grammy Award category: Best Song written specifically for a Motion Picture or Television in 1988, but lost to Phil Collins' "Two Hearts" (from the film Buster),[1] "Two Hearts" and Carly Simon's "Let the River Run" from "Working Girl" also beat it for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.

Composition and recording[edit]

The place referred to as "Kokomo" in the song is fictional. Although Kokomo, Indiana, Kokomo, Arkansas, Kokomo, Hawaii, and several other Kokomos do exist, the song refers to a place "off the Florida Keys."[2] The name was later used by resorts in Sandals Cay, Jamaica, and Grassy Key, Florida. The song also mentions many places in or near the Caribbean: in order of their appearance in the song, Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahama(s), Key Largo, Montego, Martinique, Montserrat, and Port-au-Prince.

In addition to the Beach Boys' signature layered-singing style, the song's instrumentation makes heavy use of steel drums played by Vince, Milton, and Mike (but not Mike Love), according to the "Kokomo" track sheet information supplied by engineer Keith Wechsler. Wechsler also says that there is a percussionist by the name of Chili who played a little drum in the introduction of the song. Van Dyke Parks, who had worked on some of the group's earlier albums, played accordion, while session veteran Jim Keltner played drums.[3] Other players are Jeff Foskett (acoustic guitar), Rod Clark (bass), Joel Peskin (alto saxophone) and Ry Cooder (electric slide guitar).

On the original "Kokomo" demo version, lead vocals were performed by Mike Love and Terry Melcher. The demo harmonies include Terry Melcher, Bruce Johnston, Mike Love, and Jeff Foskett. At Disney Films' request, the "Kokomo" demo was "upgraded" to a master recording, thus requiring members of the Beach Boys to re-record the demo vocals, except for Mike Love's lead.

The final recorded and released "Kokomo" background vocals are sung by Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, and Al Jardine. Terry Melcher's and Jeff Foskett's demo vocals were erased and replaced by Carl Wilson's and Al Jardine's vocals. The final released "Kokomo" lead vocals are sung by Mike Love and Carl Wilson. The only active Beach Boys member not involved with the recording was Brian Wilson, who was given short notice of the recording session and unable to attend.[citation needed] He was subsequently included in concert recordings of the song, including a live concert filmed for the television show Full House (episode 028).

The song was composed on Key Largo.[citation needed]

Release[edit]

The "Kokomo" single backed with "Tutti Frutti" by Little Richard was first released through Elektra Records in July 1988. It peaked at the #1 position on the Billboard charts on November 5, 1988 after knocking out "A Groovy Kind of Love" by Phil Collins. This meant that it was The Beach Boys' first #1 hit in the United States since "Good Vibrations" in 1966, making it the longest time span between two number one hits in America for a band (22 years). It is also their only #1 hit not written or produced by Brian Wilson. After spending just one week at the top of the charts, the single was knocked out of the number one spot by The Escape Club song "Wild, Wild West". After being signed to Capitol Records following the success of the initial single, Capitol issued the song in the United States for a second time. The song was re-released in July 1989 as the B-side of the "Still Cruisin'" single, which peaked at number 93 on the Billboard chart. Capitol again re-issued the song, just two months later, as the B-side of the "Somewhere Near Japan" single, but the single failed to chart.

In the United Kingdom, the single was first issued by Elektra in October 1988. The single peaked at number 25 on the charts. After Capitol had signed the band, as they had in the U.S., they released the single for the second time as the B-side of the "Still Cruisin'" single. However it failed to make any impact on the charts. In Australia the single became the band's third number one hit in Australia after "Do It Again" in 1968 and "Cotton Fields" in 1970. In New Zealand the single peaked at the number 5 position. In the Dutch singles chart, the single peaked at the number 6 position. The song also peaked at number 19 in Belgium and at number 7 in Germany.

Album and alternative releases[edit]

"Kokomo" was first released on an album in 1989 on the band's Still Cruisin' album. The band had been given a one-off album contract by their former label Capitol Records after the song became a number 1 hit in both the United States and Australia. Brian Wilson, who did not perform on the original recording of the song, did later contribute vocals to a Spanish-language version.

Music video[edit]

The video for "Kokomo" was filmed at the then-recently opened Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World in Florida. The resort had not opened when the video was shot and the band were their first guests. The staff of the hotel practiced their menu on the band by trying out recipes and drinks. The crowd on the fake beach contained college cheerleaders from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It took less than two hours to shoot the video because it threatened to rain. The members of the Beach Boys in the video are: Carl Wilson (playing guitar), Al Jardine (playing tambourine), Bruce Johnston (playing bass guitar), and Mike Love (playing saxophone). Actor and occasional Beach Boys live guest John Stamos can be seen playing the conga, bongos and steel drum. Brian Wilson was not featured and "Kokomo" represents the only promotional video the Beach Boys produced in the 1980s without him.

Appearances/References in other media[edit]

Parodies[edit]

Recognition and criticisms[edit]

"Kokomo" has had mixed reviews. In 1989, the song received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song — Motion Picture in 1989, however, it has also ranked on some "bad song" related lists, such as VH1's "40 Most Awesomely Bad No. 1 Songs" and Blender magazine's list of the "50 Worst Songs Ever".[5]

Track listings[edit]

3" CD single
  1. "Kokomo" — 3:34
  2. "Tutti Frutti" by Little Richard — 2:23
  3. "Hippy Hippy Shake" by The Georgia Satellites — 1:45
7" single
  1. "Kokomo" — 3:34
  2. "Tutti Frutti" by Little Richard — 2:23
12" maxi
  1. "Kokomo" — 3:34
  2. "Tutti Frutti" by Little Richard — 2:23
  3. "Hippy Hippy Shake" by The Georgia Satellites — 1:45

Certifications[edit]

CountryCertificationDateSales certified
France[6]Silver1989200,000
U.S.[7]PlatinumJanuary 10, 19891,000,000

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1988–1989)Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart[8]1
Belgian Singles Chart[9]19
Canada Top Singles (RPM)10
Canada Retail Singles (RPM)3
Dutch Singles Chart[10]6
French SNEP Singles Chart[11]6
German Singles Chart[12]7
Japan Hot 100[13]84
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart[14]5
Swedish Singles Chart[11]14
Swiss Singles Chart[11]8
UK Singles Chart[15]25
US Billboard Hot 100[13]1
US Billboard Adult Contemporary[13]5
End of year chart (1989)Position
Australian Singles Chart[16]9
Preceded by
"Groovy Kind of Love" by Phil Collins
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
November 5, 1988 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Wild, Wild West" by The Escape Club
Preceded by
"Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin
Australian ARIA number-one single
January 8, 1989 — February 12, 1989 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Grammy Award". Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  2. ^ "Kokomo By The Beach Boys Songfacts". Retrieved February 18, 2010. 
  3. ^ Brown, Scott; Endleman, Michael (May 28, 2004). "Kokomo". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 1, 2009. 
  4. ^ "AllMusic.com Adam Green Kokomo". Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  5. ^ The 50 Worst Songs Ever! Watch, Listen and Cringe! from Blender.com. Retrieved on 23 August 2010.
  6. ^ Elia Habib, Muz hit. tubes, p. 156 (ISBN 2-9518832-0-X)
  7. ^ U.S. certifications riaa.com (Retrieved August 19, 2008)
  8. ^ "Australian Singles Charts". mountvernonandfairway.de. Retrieved 12 November 2007. 
  9. ^ "Belgian Singles Charts". mountvernonandfairway.de. Retrieved 12 November 2007. 
  10. ^ "Dutch Singles Charts". mountvernonandfairway.de. Retrieved 12 November 2007. 
  11. ^ a b c "French, Swedish and Swiss Singles Charts". lescharts.com. Retrieved 7 April 2008. 
  12. ^ "German Singles Charts". mountvernonandfairway.de. Retrieved 12 November 2007. 
  13. ^ a b c "Billboard". Allmusic. Retrieved 7 April 2008. 
  14. ^ "New Zealand Singles Charts". mountvernonandfairway.de. Retrieved 12 November 2007. 
  15. ^ "UK Singles Chart". chartstats.com. Retrieved 7 April 2008. 
  16. ^ 1989 Australian Singles Chart aria.com (Retrieved August 19, 2008)