Who Was A Better Beatles Rival: Beach Boys vs. The Monkees

Who Was A Better Beatles Rival: Beach Boys vs. The Monkees | I Love Classic Rock Videos

via The Monkees Archives / Youtube

The Beach Boys and The Monkees remain iconic figures in the history of pop music, forever linked by their shared reign during the swinging sixties. Both bands dominated the charts, churning out hit after hit, and often found themselves compared to the era’s biggest musical force, The Beatles.

While comparisons are inevitable, the Beach Boys and The Monkees each carved their own unique paths. The Beach Boys, with their innovative harmonies and introspective lyrics, explored themes of teenage angst and California surf culture.

The Monkees, on the other hand, brought a playful, bubblegum pop sound to the airwaves, often accompanied by their comedic television antics.

So, who truly holds the title of “better Beatles rival?” This article dives into the musical achievements of both bands, analyzing their chart success, artistic evolution, and lasting impact to determine who truly gave The Beatles a run for their money.


Charting the Evolution of the Beach Boys and The Monkees

Both the Beach Boys and The Monkees rose to fame in the 1960s, initially captivating audiences with their infectious bubblegum pop tunes. The Beach Boys dominated the charts with hits like “I Get Around” and “Help Me, Rhonda”, showcasing their tight harmonies and doo-wop influences.

Meanwhile, The Monkees delivered catchy bubblegum anthems like “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer,” often accompanied by their comedic television antics.

However, both bands eventually embraced a shift in their musical direction. The Beach Boys ventured into psychedelia, culminating in the groundbreaking masterpiece “Good Vibrations.” 

While The Monkees also experimented with psychedelic sounds on their album “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.,” their psychedelic explorations never achieved the same chart success as their earlier pop hits.

Chart Success Beyond the Sixties

While both The Beach Boys and The Monkees dominated the charts during the 1960s, their stories didn’t end there. The Beach Boys achieved a remarkable feat in 1988 with their yacht rock single “Kokomo”, which soared to the No. 1 spot, marking their return to the top of the charts after 22 years since Good Vibrations.

This accomplishment mirrored a broader trend of 60s stars experiencing renewed success in the 80s, including the Grateful Dead, Roy Orbison, and even former Beatles John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney.

The Monkees also managed to land a hit in the 80s with the synth-pop tune “That Was Then, This Is Now”, although it peaked at No. 20 on the charts. Interestingly, the possibility of a future No. 1 hit for The Monkees remains alive.

In recent years, older songs by artists like Kate Bush and The Beatles have experienced unexpected chart success thanks to viral trends. Perhaps a future TikTok craze could propel a classic Monkees song like “Valleri” or “Pleasant Valley Sunday” to the top of the charts, rewriting their later-career narrative.

The Collaborative Origins of “Kokomo”

The Beach Boys’ iconic beach anthem “Kokomo” wasn’t solely a product of their own creative efforts. In a 2019 interview, Mike Love revealed the collaborative spirit behind the song. He explained how the band’s Southern California lifestyle heavily influenced their song themes, with “Kokomo” being no exception.

Love further elaborated on the song’s popularity and its collaborative birth. He credited John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas for the melody and verse, while he himself penned the chorus.

Terry Melcher, their friend and record producer, is credited with the iconic “Oooh I want to take you” line. This collaboration resulted in a true musical gem, solidifying “Kokomo” as one of their biggest hits.

The fictional Kokomo itself seems to draw inspiration from multiple locations. Love mentioned California, Hawaii, and Florida as key influences, particularly Key West, which he referred to as the “epicenter of Kokomo.”