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Good Vibrations

From Academic Kids

For the song by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, see Good Vibrations (Marky Mark song).

"Good Vibrations" is a song by The Beach Boys. Released as a single in November 1966 (backed with Pet Sounds instrumental "Let's Go Away For Awhile"), it was the band's third US #1 hit, after "I Get Around" and "Help Me Rhonda", reaching the top of the Billboard chart in 1966 as well as being their first British chart topper.

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Significance

Considered revolutionary at the time of its release, its success is legendary and it is still widely regarded as one of the most important and influential pop singles ever released. When it came out in late 1966, it was without question the most technically advanced single yet recorded, as well as being the most expensive American single ever released up to that time.

Composition

Beach Boys leader, composer, and producer Brian Wilson described "Good Vibrations" as a "pocket symphony," and the composition is indeed symphonic in structure, with multiple movements and layered instrumentation featuring unusual instruments such as the cello and electro-theremin.

Building upon the layered production approach Wilson had begun to use with the Pet Sounds album, the style and form of "Good Vibrations" was a huge departure from the simpler pop songs favored by the band up to this point. Wilson devoted months of effort to this single track, developing new studio production techniques and recording methods as he went in order to capture the sound that was in his head.

The production of the song is reported to have spanned seventeen recording sessions at four different recording studios, and used over 90 hours of tape, with an eventual budget of $50,000. Wilson is credited with developing the use of the recording studio as an instrument: he the Beach Boys and dozens of top studio musicians, including members of The Wrecking Crew, recorded and rerecorded seemingly unrelated musical and vocal sections for the song, then edited and mixed these sections into a stirring, 3:35 pop gem.

Albums

Inspired by the success of the song and the positive reaction to Pet Sounds, and wanting to top The Beatles' recently-released Revolver album, Wilson and lyricist Van Dyke Parks embarked on the Smile project, intended as an entire album using the writing and production techniques devised for "Good Vibrations." A legendary failure, that album was never released as Wilson spiraled into depression and paranoia; several tracks salvaged from those sessions were re-recorded in greatly simplified versions for the Smiley Smile album instead, on which "Good Vibrations" made its first LP appearance. (A re-recorded version of Smile was finally completed by Wilson and Parks, with The Wondermints replacing the other Beach Boys and the studio musicians, in April 2004. It was released five months later.)

Lyrics

The lyrics for the 1966 single version of the song were written by Mike Love, although recordings exist for an earlier version with lyrics by Brian's Pet Sounds writing partner Tony Asher. Soon after they met, Brian asked his new writing partner Van Dyke Parks to pen lyrics for the song, but Parks declined. Interestingly, when Brian re-recorded "Good Vibrations" for his 2004 version of Smile, he used the original lyrics written by Tony Asher. From Mike Love's lyrics, he kept just the opening line, "I, I love the colorful clothes she wears," and the chorus, "I'm pickin' up good vibrations."

Critical acclaim for "Good Vibrations"

"Good Vibrations" marked the peak (and, in one sense, the end) of Wilson and the Beach Boys' artistic career, and it remains one of the best-regarded pop songs of all time.

"Good Vibrations" earned The Beach Boys a Grammy nomination for Best Vocal Group performance in 1966 and the song was eventually inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1994. It has featured highly in many 'Top 100 records of all time' charts and was voted #1 in the Mojo Top 100 Records of All Time chart in 1997. The song has been featured in the movie Vanilla Sky. Rolling Stone magazine ranked "Good Vibrations" as the sixth best song of all time.

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