Kokomo (song): Wikis


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Single by The Beach Boys
from the album Still Cruisin'
Released July 18, 1988 (US)
October 1988 (UK)
Format 7" single
12" maxi
Recorded March 22, 1988, April 5–6, 1988
Genre Pop
Length 3:35
Label Elektra Records
Capitol (reissue)
Producer Terry Melcher
The Beach Boys singles chronology
"Happy Endings"/"California Girls"
"Kokomo"/"Tutti Frutti"
"Still Cruisin'"/"Kokomo"
"Kokomo"/"Tutti Frutti"
"Still Cruisin'"/"Kokomo"
"Somewhere Near Japan"/"Kokomo"
"Still Cruisin'"/"Kokomo"
"Somewhere Near Japan"/"Kokomo"
Wouldn't It Be Nice

"Kokomo" is a song written by John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, Mike Love and Terry Melcher and recorded by The Beach Boys in 1988. It was released as a single in 1988 at Elektra Records and became a No. 1 Hit in the United States and Australia. 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's "Two Hearts" (from the film "Buster").[1]


Composition and recording

Although there is a small city in Indiana called Kokomo, most Americans know of Kokomo as the former name of an island in Jamaica that is now known as Sandals Cay. The song also mentions many places in and around the Caribbean, including Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahama(s), Key Largo, Montego, Martinique, Montserrat, and Port-au-Prince (Haiti).

In addition to the Beach Boys' signature layered-singing style, the song's instrumentation makes heavy use of steel drums. Van Dyke Parks, who had worked on some of the group's earlier albums, played accordion, while session veteran Jim Keltner played drums.[2]

In the original version, lead vocals were performed by Mike Love and Carl Wilson. The harmonies include Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston. The only active Beach Boys member not involved with the recording was Brian Wilson, who, according to his autobiography, was given short notice of the recording session and unable to attend.[3] He was, however, included in concert recordings of the song, including a live concert filmed for the television show Full House (episode 028). The 2008 A&E Network Biography on Brian Wilson stated that Mike Love would "brag" about having a #1 hit without Wilson's help.

Despite being recorded in 1988, the song is often played on oldies playlists, simply because it has the "style of an oldie" and was recorded by a band known for their 1960s success.


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 clearly tried to take advantage of the song's popularity by issuing the song in the United States for a second time. On the second occasion the song was 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, however on that occasion 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 "Cottonfields" 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

"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. Although Wilson did not perform on the original recording of the song, he did later contribute vocals to a Spanish-language version.

In 2006, Beach Boys member Mike Love recorded a critically panned Christmas remake of the song, titled "Santa's Going To Kokomo".

Music video

The video for Kokomo was filmed at the then-recently opened Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World in Florida. The members of the Beach Boys in the video are: Carl Wilson (playing guitar), Al Jardine (playing tamborine), Bruce Johnston (playing bass guitar), and Mike Love (playing saxophone). Actor and part time Beach Boys band member John Stamos can be seen playing the conga steel drums.

Appearances/References in other media

  • The Muppets performed the song.
  • In the Yes Dear episode, "Jimmy and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Boat," the song appears when Greg drives the boat.
  • In a 2001 episode of Saturday Night Live, host Derek Jeter owned a taco restaurant in one skit, "Derek Jeter's Taco Hole," whose theme song was a parody of "Kokomo."
  • In the 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.
  • 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?!" (there is a Kokomo in Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, and Texas)
  • On the "Friends" episode "The One Where Rachel Tells..." in season 8 when Monica and Chandler are leaving for their honeymoon in the Caribbean, Chandler was singing the first line of "Kokomo" and Monica said "get it (the song) out your system while we are alone."
  • In the How I Met Your Mother episode "Three Days of Snow," the song runs through Barney and Ted's Cocktail-like sequence while running the bar, and again in Barney's head during a telepathic conversation with Ted.
  • In the Family Guy episode, "The Tan Aquatic with Steve Zissou," Stewie sings along to Kokomo while sunbathing in his sunbed.
  • In the episode Office Spaceman, from the animated sitcom American Dad!, Roger the Alien (in disguise and working at the CIA) says he needs to go to Aruba, Jamaica, Key Largo, Montego and "a place called Kokomo" to follow leads on alien sightings. Deputy director of the CIA, Avery Bullock finishes the joke by saying "Book a flight, get there fast and then take it slow".
  • Kokomo was also sang in an episode of Full House when The Beach Boys visted the Tanner Family. Michelle's favorite song was Kokomo and begged for them to sing it at the end of the episode.


Recognition and criticisms

"Kokomo" appeared on VH1's "40 Most Awesomely Bad No. 1 Songs". However, it received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song - Motion Picture in 1989. The song also ranked at #12 on Blender magazine's list of the "50 Worst Songs Ever",[4] while the music video was named the #3 worst video of 1988 on MuchMoreMusic's Back In... '88.

Track listings

3" 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


Country Certification Date Sales certified
France[5] Silver 1989 200,000
U.S.[6] Platinum January 10, 1989 1,000,000

Chart positions

Chart (1988–1989) Peak
Australian Singles Chart[7] 1
Belgian Singles Chart[8] 19
Canadian Singles Chart[9] 13
Dutch Singles Chart[10] 6
French SNEP Singles Chart[11] 6
German Singles Chart[12] 7
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart[13] 5
Swedish Singles Chart[11] 14
Swiss Singles Chart[11] 8
UK Singles Chart[14] 25
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[15] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks[15] 5
U.S. ARC Weekly Top 40 1
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
ARC Weekly Top 40 number-one single
November 5, 1988 (1 week)
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

See also


  1. ^ "Grammy Award". http://www.metrolyrics.com/1989-grammy-awards.html#ixzz0bxi469dF. Retrieved 7 January 2010.  
  2. ^ Brown, Scott; Endleman, Michael (May 28, 2004). "Kokomo". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,640541,00.html. Retrieved December 1, 2009.  
  3. ^ Wilson, Brian, Wouldn't It Be Nice: My Own Story. HarperCollins, 1991.
  4. ^ Run for Your Life! It's the 50 Worst Songs Ever! from Blender.com. Retrieved on 4 May 2008.
  5. ^ Elia Habib, Muz hit. tubes, p. 156 (ISBN 2-9518832-0-X)
  6. ^ U.S. certifications riaa.com (Retrieved August 19, 2008)
  7. ^ "Australian Singles Charts". mountvernonandfairway.de. http://www.mountvernonandfairway.de/charts10.htm. Retrieved 12 November 2007.  
  8. ^ "Belgian Singles Charts". mountvernonandfairway.de. http://www.mountvernonandfairway.de/charts7.htm. Retrieved 12 November 2007.  
  9. ^ "Canadian Singles Charts". collectionscanada.gc.ca. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?brws_s=1&file_num=nlc008388.8683&volume=48&issue=26&issue_dt=October%2015%201988&type=1&interval=24&PHPSESSID=ujgc075tlgv377braad2n1f9j5. Retrieved 1 August 2009.  
  10. ^ "Dutch Singles Charts". mountvernonandfairway.de. http://www.mountvernonandfairway.de/charts6.htm. Retrieved 12 November 2007.  
  11. ^ a b c "French, Swedish and Swiss Singles Charts". lescharts.com. http://lescharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=The+Beach+Boys&titel=Kokomo&cat=s. Retrieved 7 April 2008.  
  12. ^ "German Singles Charts". mountvernonandfairway.de. http://www.mountvernonandfairway.de/charts9.htm. Retrieved 12 November 2007.  
  13. ^ "New Zealand Singles Charts". mountvernonandfairway.de. http://www.mountvernonandfairway.de/charts5.htm. Retrieved 12 November 2007.  
  14. ^ "UK Singles Chart". chartstats.com. http://www.chartstats.com/songinfo.php?id=15929. Retrieved 7 April 2008.  
  15. ^ a b "Billboard". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:3ifrxqw5ldse~T51. Retrieved 7 April 2008.  
  16. ^ 1989 Australian Singles Chart aria.com (Retrieved August 19, 2008)

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