The Beach Boys

Kokomo

Composed by John Phillips / Mike Love / Scott McKenzie / Terry Melcher

Song Review by

If you were anywhere within the vicinity of a radio or television during the summer and fall of 1988, you could not escape “Kokomo”. It would become for all intents and purposes the final number one from the Beach Boys, which was no doubt bolstered by MTV’s incessant airing of the music video, as well as being prominently featured on the OST of the Tom Cruise fluff film Cocktail (1988). The track boasts a formidable supergroup quartet of co-writers including former Mamas & Papas leader John Phillips, Beach Boys vocalist Mike Love, famed producer/musician Terry Melcher and singer/songwriter Scott McKenzie (of “ San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in...” fame). Unfortunately the final product doesn’t really reflect such an A-list talent roster. Notably absent from the all-star ensemble of writers, as well as missing from the track itself, is Brian Wilson. The band’s former musical and spiritual leader was both supporting his own self-titled solo effort, and perhaps more tellingly, the hapless victim of some concurrently nasty inner-band politics. Regardless, this would stand as a final vocal statement from Carl Wilson (guitar/vocals) who shares the lead with Mike Love. The song itself is simple and definitely hook driven. The unforgettable chorus of “Aruba, Jamaica/ Ooo I wanna take you/To Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama/Key Largo, Montego baby why don't we go …” effortlessly takes the verse to the Carl Wilson solo vocal bridge “Ooo I wanna take you down to Kokomo/We'll get there fast/And then we'll take it slow/That's where we wanna go/Way down to Kokomo”. His voice has retained the tender and dulcet quality that defined his contributions to earlier tracks such as “The Trader”. That contrasts Mike Love’s rather uninspired lead vocals which are not as much sung as they are spoken in an annoying over-enunciated whisper.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1983 EMI Music Distribution
Cocktail 1988
Original Soundtrack
Elektra / Rhino 3:35
Still Cruisin' 1989 Capitol 3:35
Mellow Gold, Vol. 1 1991
Various Artists
Mystic Records
Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys 1993 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 3:37
Sounds of the Eighties: 1988 1995
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:37
Sun Splashin' 1996
Various Artists
Madacy 3:35
No Image 1998
Various Artists
Polystar / Universal
Movies Greatest Love Songs 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
Dutch Singles Collection 1998 EMI Music Distribution 3:37
No Image 1998
Various Artists
Elektra / Jazz 3:35
Movie Lovers, Vol. 2 1999
Various Artists
Records 3:35
Bikini.Com: Summer Groovin' 1999
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:35
Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 1999 Capitol 3:36
Le Meilleur des Beach Boys 1999 EMI Music Distribution 3:34
No Image 2000 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol
Fetenhits: Real Summer Classics 2000
Various Artists
Polygram 3:33
VH1: The Big 80's Pop 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 3:35
The Very Best of the Beach Boys 2001 Capitol 3:35
The 80's, Vol. 2 2002
Various Artists
Warner Bros. 3:35
Sunsplashin 2002
Various Artists
Madacy 3:35
Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys 2003 Capitol / EMI 3:38
All the 80's 2003
Various Artists
Warner Music
No Image 2005
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Best of Formel Eins: Die Kulthits, Vol. 3 2005
Various Artists
Polystar / Universal
All the Beer Songs 2005
Various Artists
Warner Bros.
Platinum Collection: Sounds of Summer Edition 2005 Mixed Repertoire 3:36
Movie Fine 2006
Various Artists
BMG
Ultimate 16: Lite FM 80s 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 3:36
80s Movie Hits 2006
Various Artists
Universal 3:37
Sun Jammin' Classics 2006
Various Artists
Sony BMG 3:31
Number 1's: Soundtrack Smashes 2007
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:35
Chasing the Sun: The Greatest Songs of Summer 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:37
No Image 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:36
#1 Classic Hits of the 80s 2007
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:37
Las 101 Canciones del Cine 2007
Various Artists
Best Movie Album in the World Ever 2008
Various Artists
EMD Int'l 3:34
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Speicherst 3:35
100 Hits: 80's Pop 2008
Various Artists
100 Hits / DMG 100
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Polystar / Universal Music
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Building
Holidays & Hits 2009 Capitol 3:38
100 Hits: Summer 2010
Various Artists
Demon Music Group / DMG 100 3:35
Easy 80s 2011
Various Artists
Time Life / Time/Life Music 3:36
Easy 80s: At This Moment 2011
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:36
No Image 2012 Capitol
Greatest Hits [Capitol] 2012 Capitol
The  Beach Boys 50: Live in Concert [Video] 2012 Universal
Live in Concert: 50th Anniversary 2012 Blast / SMC Records
Live: The 50th Anniversary Tour 2013 Az / Capitol / Cobalt Music/ Helladisc S.A. / EMI / Universal 4:00
Dad: The Collection 2013
Various Artists
Rhino 3:35
Made in California 2013 Capitol 3:38
Candy Candy: The Heyday of Bubblegum Pop 2013
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:35
Absolute 80's [Warner] 2014
Various Artists
Warner Music 3:36
100 Hits: Dad
Various Artists
Demon Music Group / DMG 100 3:35
100 Hits: Summer [2015]
Various Artists
100 Hits
101 Most Beloved Pop Masterpieces
Various Artists
Warner Music 3:39
80 Hits of the '80s
Various Artists
Rhino 3:35
80's Top 40 Hits
Various Artists
Warner Music 3:38
American Classics [Rhino]
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Music 3:38
Classic '80s Pop
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 3:35
De Pre Historie: 1989, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Eva 3:35
No Image Murry Wilson
Greatest Hits: The Danish Collection Capitol
Just Can't Get Enough: Movie Hits of the '80s
Various Artists
Rhino 3:38
Now That's What I Call the 80s Hits [Deluxe Edition]
Various Artists
Now Joint Venture 3:36
Simply Eighties
Various Artists
Simply
Stir It Up [Sony Music]
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:32
No Image
Various Artists
3:37
Sun Jammin' [Sony]
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
The  Hits Album '89
Various Artists
Arcade Music
The  Very Best of the Beach Boys: Fun, Fun, Fun EMI 3:34
No Image
Various Artists
Rhino 3:35
blue highlight denotes editor's pick