Film & TV

Top Ten Best Uses of Beach Boys' Songs in Movies and on TV

Brian Wilson coming to town again brings back memories of bikinis, beach parties, and endless summer nights where old age doesn't exist. But these aren't our own memories of Beach Boys' songs. Nope, they're ones we got watching the Beach Boys' songs play during movies or on TV during sandy surfy scenes. Usually, when the Beach Boys music is playing on a soundtrack, it's lazy shorthand for the director to convey the feeling that everyone's having fun in the sun. Here are ten examples of movies that used the Beach Boys' brilliant music in more inventive ways.

See also: Brian Wilson on Songwriting: "I'm Always Anxious to Make Each One Better"

10. A View to a Kill - "California Girls"

If you thought James Bond movies just got bad when Daniel Craig took over, check out this stinkfest with Roger Moore doing the honors. It inexplicably has a snowboard chase scene while "California Girls" blares.

9. Vanilla Sky - "Good Vibrations"

This Tom Cruise thriller is a terrible bastardization of the far superior Spanish original Abre Los Ojos. The only thing the Cameron Crowe-directed remake had going for it was the great song selection, including "Good Vibrations."

8. Almost Famous - "Feel Flows"

Cameron Crowe did much better with this classic that almost makes a career as a music writer seem cool. After the unforgettable final montage, someone had to follow up Led Zeppelin's "Tangerine," and the Beach Boys' "Feel Flows" does a fine job serenading the closing credits.

See also: Beach Boys' Al Jardine on Touring With Brian Wilson: "We're Not Done Yet"

7. Karen - Karen Theme Song

The Beach Boys got roped in to sing the theme song for this 1964 NBC sitcom about a 16-year-old girl. Fortunately the Beach Boys weren't as lazy with the song as the producers were with the opening montage.

6. American Graffiti - "Surfin' Safari"

Before Wilson Phillips, McKenzie Phillips eerily appears on the screen while the Beach Boys "Surfin' Safari" is on the radio. Brian Wilson's two daughters make up the other two-thirds of WP.

5. Roger and Me - "Wouldn't It Be Nice"

In Michael Moore's first documentary, he juxtaposes the severe poverty of Flint, Michigan, with the yearning hopefulness of the Beach Boys' harmonies.

4. Top Secret - "Skeet Surfing USA" medley

This 1984 comedy by the team behind Airplane! and The Naked Gun is about a U.S. pop star played by Val Kilmer who gets caught in Cold War high jinx. But the plot isn't as important as the jokes. The first of which is a Beach Boys medley about skeet shooting while surfing.

3. T.A.M.I. Show - "I Get Around"

This 1964 concert film had an unbelievable lineup. According to the order, the Beach Boys' pecking order in 1964 was somewhere ahead of Marvin Gaye and Chuck Berry but behind James Brown and the Rolling Stones. Their four-song set shows they were second to none.

2. Boogie Nights - "God Only Knows"

Who would think a scene of a smut peddler walking among all the actors and actresses he exploited over the years could bring a tear to your eye? Celluloid proof that putting "God Only Knows" over any visuals would make viewers nostalgic and sentimental.

Honorable mention: Love Actually finale.

1. Teen Wolf - "Surfin' USA"

How can you top Michael J. Fox playing air guitar with prosthetic wolf makeup and surfing a van that Styles is driving? You can't. The perfect marriage of the Beach Boys and Hollywood.

Brian WIlson and Jeff Beck, with Al Jardine and David Marks. 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 27, at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. TIckets cost $59.25 to $96.60. Call 954-797-5531, or visit

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David Rolland is a freelance writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times. His novel, The End of the Century, published by Jitney Books, is available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland