Last week saw the release of the Beach Boys' The Smile Sessions box set, and folks can't stop talking about how amazing it is. In fact, the recent splurge of critical praise for the group makes it seem like they could do no wrong.
Rest assured, however, that this is not the case. In fact, with over 30 albums attributed to them, there's been plenty of bogus, phoned in, or simply warmed over material. Don't get us wrong, we adore the Beach Boys, which is part of what makes their awesomely horrible tracks so fun. Without further ado, here are the five dopiest Beach Boys songs on record.
5. “California Saga: The Beaks of Eagles” (1973)
The Beach Boys' best work is characterized by innovative harmonies, genuine warmth and a sense of wonderment. “The Beaks of Eagles” — part of the “California Saga” from their 1973 album Holland — has none of these. If you always felt the group could have used the disturbing touch of utterly joyless spoken word poetry, well, we beg to differ.
4. “Make It Big” (1989)
After the surprise success of “Kokomo” from the Cocktail soundtrack in 1988, the Beach Boys decided to release Still Cruisin', an album largely consisting of the songs they'd contributed to movie soundtracks, including “Make It Big,” from Troop Beverly Hills. Unlike the stripped down version heard in the film, this obnoxious synth-heavy album version sounds like the '80s collectively threw up.
3. “TM Song” (1976)
“TM Song” is the only track off of the Beach Boys' 1976 album 15 Big Ones for which Brian Wilson gets the sole writing credit. As far as we can tell, his best artistic decision on the track is making it short. His ode to transcendental meditation — it's “simple, it's easy as writing this rhyme,” he imparts — shows him at his most creatively overspent. Even more baffling is that this was the B-side to the album's first single, a cover of Chuck Berry's “Rock and Roll Music.”
2. “Busy Doin' Nothin” (1968)
Some Beach Boys fans consider Wilson's take on a lazy day where he gets nothing accomplished, “Busy Doin' Nothin,” to be a brilliant concept. Others, however, note that the second verse consists of Wilson giving directions to his house. Meanwhile, a full 1/3 of the song is devoted to his trying to remember a phone number. Hey Brian, if you're that bored, maybe go to the beach?
1. “Smart Girls” (1989)
As great as the Beach Boys were at blending genres, their bizarre 1987 collaboration with The Fat Boys shows they never quite got the hang of rap music. In 1989, while under the controversial care of Eugene Landy, Brian Wilson was somehow convinced to record a rap song. Produced by Matt Dike (Beastie Boys' “Hey Ladies,” Tone Loc's “Wild Thing,” Insane Clown Posse's “Halls of Illusions”), the sample-laden production is more bomb than Bomb Squad and Brian's creepy rhymes give off vibrations from which no “good” can be picked up.