Kokomo (song)

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Not to be confused with Ko Ko Mo (I Love You So).
For other uses, see Kokomo.
"Kokomo"
Single by The Beach Boys
from the album Cocktail and Still Cruisin'
B-side "Tutti Frutti"
Released July 18, 1988 (US)
October 4, 1988 (UK)
Format 7" single
12" maxi
Recorded March 22, April 5–6, 1988
Genre Pop, tropical
Length 3:35
Label Elektra Records
Capitol (reissue)
Writer(s) Mike Love, Scott McKenzie, Terry Melcher, John Phillips
Producer(s) Terry Melcher
The Beach Boys singles chronology
"Happy Endings"
(1987)
(With Little Richard)
---
"California Dreamin'
(1986)
"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 (fictional) island in the Florida Keys called Kokomo. 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 for the Grammy Award for 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 jointly 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 there are several places in the world named Kokomo, including Kokomo, Indiana, Kokomo, Arkansas and Kokomo, Hawaii, 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 Bay, 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. According to "Kokomo" track sheet information supplied by engineer Keith Wechsler, the steel drums were played by musicians named Vince, Milton, and Mike (but not Mike Love). Wechsler also says that there is a percussionist by the name of Chili who played percussion 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 "Kokomo" chorus (words and music) was written in Carmel, California, by Mike Love and Terry Melcher.

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. Interestingly, the original version of "A Groovy Kind of Love" by The Mindbenders had knocked the Beach Boys' song "Sloop John B" out of the #5 position in May, 1966. 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.[citation needed] 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.

Covers[edit]

  • The Muppets performed this song for the 1993 album Muppet Beach Party, with Kermit the Frog singing the lyrics. The lyrics "under a tropical island sky" replaced the lyrics "gave me a tropical contact high", in keeping with the family-friendly nature of the Muppets. On the version recorded for the album, the alto sax solo has been replaced by a bottleneck electric guitar solo played by either Nick Brown or George Doering. For the music video of the song, however, there is a tenor sax solo that plays over the bottleneck solo, and is played by Dan Higgins.
  • In 2003 singers Adam Green and Ben Kweller covered the song as a B-side for Green's song "Jessica".[4]

Parodies[edit]

  • A Norwegian group, The Shiptare Boys, performed a parody of the song called "Kosovo". It was originally done by Bob Rivers.
  • Political satire group Capitol Steps has also recorded a parody called "Kosovo".
  • There was a parody of the song referencing the characters of the anime Ranma 1/2.
  • Bob & Tom parodied the song as Camel Toe.
  • WWLS The Sports Animal in Oklahoma released a parody to celebrate the 2000 Oklahoma Sooner football team's trip to the National Championship game.
  • WCSX in Detroit made a parody of the song in the late-1990s about the then-filthiness of Metro Beach.
  • In a 2001 episode of Saturday Night Live, host Derek Jeter owned a taco restaurant in one sketch, "Derek Jeter's Taco Hole," whose theme song was a parody of "Kokomo."

Appearances and references in other media[edit]

  • The Beach Boys guest star in Season 2 Episode 6 of Full House. They perform "Kokomo" in their house and in the live concert, in which the Full House cast helped sing "Barbara Ann".
  • In a Two Guys and a Girl episode, "Two Guys and a Girl and a Vacation", the three main characters sing the song throughout the episode in celebration of their upcoming holiday.
  • In the third episode of the eighth season of Friends, Chandler briefly sings a few lines from the song.
  • On an episode of Scrubs, Turk suggests Elliot and Keith honeymoon in Kokomo, but Elliot shoots down his fantasy, telling him blankly "For the last time, there is no such place as 'Kokomo'!" to which Turk angrily responds, "Then *where* did The Beach Boys shoot the video, huh?!"
  • In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, "Three Days of Snow", Ted and Barney are keeping a bar open after last call to wait for their dates and are lip-syncing to the song.
  • The Season 15 episode of The Simpsons, "Today I Am a Clown", features a parody of both the band and the song, with Jewish themes, during the bar mitzvah of Krusty.
  • In the Family Guy episode "The Tan Aquatic with Steve Zissou", Stewie sings the chorus of the song while inside a tanning bed.
  • In American Dad! Season 4 Episode 14 "Office Spaceman" Roger the alien as "Parker Peters" lists the islands named in the chorus of the song as destinations to go hunting for the mysterious alien (Roger himself).
  • In the episode "Pour Judgment" of The King of Queens, the song is played during a scene where Doug attends bartender school.

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]

Country Certification Date Sales certified
France[6] Silver 1989 200,000
U.S.[7] Platinum January 10, 1989 1,000,000

Chart positions[edit]

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-charts.com – The Beach Boys – Kokomo". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  9. ^ "Ultratop.be – The Beach Boys – Kokomo" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  10. ^ "Lescharts.com – The Beach Boys – Kokomo" (in French). Les classement single.
  11. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  12. ^ a b c "Billboard". Allmusic. Retrieved 7 April 2008. 
  13. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – The Beach Boys search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  14. ^ "Charts.org.nz – The Beach Boys – Kokomo". Top 40 Singles.
  15. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – The Beach Boys – Kokomo". Singles Top 60.
  16. ^ "The Beach Boys – Kokomo – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart.
  17. ^ "UK Singles Chart". chartstats.com. Retrieved 7 April 2008. 
  18. ^ 1989 Australian Singles Chart aria.com (Retrieved August 19, 2008)