Saturday, April 28, 2012
The Beach Boys' "That's Why God Made The Radio" is just plain God Awful.
The last time that I remember The Beach Boys evoking God in a song was on the 1966 Pet Sounds Album. That song,"God Only Knows" (brilliantly produced and composed by Brian Wilson with beautifully simple and elegant lyrics by Tony Asher) stands as my favorite song ever. For our wedding, my wife and I chose it as the song for our first dance. To this day, Carl Wilson's pure vocal performance on that stellar song still gives me chills and at the right moment can bring me to tears. Pet Sounds, Surfs Up and The Holland Album were pivotal sign posts in my musical landscape. Those albums continue to blow me away. A couple of days ago, The Beach Boys for their 50th year in music announced they are hitting the road once more and with a fair amount of fanfare released a new single. NPR, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and a dozen other music blogs heaped varying degrees of praise on the this new song that also evokes God. NPR lauded it as the "The Beach Boys' best New Song in 40 years." NPR's headline is ultimately a back handed compliment as the Beach Boys have released many albums in the last 40 years. It is also perplexing because 39 years ago The Beach Boys released the "Holland" album (considered by most to be the last great Beach Boys album). But besides the fact that those at NPR may need to invest in a calculator is beside the point, this new single that once again evokes God is just plain God awful.
The new single is entitled "That's Why God Made The Radio" and even before listening to it, the title itself did a good job of forecasting how bad this song would be. The lyrics are equally cringe worthy, "That's why God made the radio / So tune right in everywhere you go/ He waved his hand / Gave us rock and roll / The soundtrack of falling in love" and "It's paradise when I / Lift up my antenna / Receiving your signal like a prayer." Yikes, I got those "bad kind" of chills just typing those lyrics out. This is really bad stuff and unfortunately the musical bed is not much better. It has this over produced sterile sound that even those lush Beach Boys harmonies cannot save. A more organic approach could of helped but ultimately, at it's core, this recording is lacking heart and soul. From the first downbeat to the obligatory fade out it sounds so darn manufactured and so terribly antiseptic. It reminds me of a parody song that would be in some dark comedy mocking Christian values or possibly a Beach Boys type band. I could see a group of Stepford smiling, white shoe wearing, King family-esque singers performing this song with Televangelists in the background clapping off time.
Am I being to hard on this song? Maybe, maybe not. I just know that even "Kokomo" smokes this song out of the water. One thing this new song has done, is make me want me to rediscover all those old treasures that I have on vinyl and that is worth a lot.