5 essential Beach Boys songs to add to your playlist

These five tracks should be in heavy rotation for you.
Michael Putland/GettyImages
3 of 3

"Wouldn't It Be Nice" (1966)

It was not my original intention to include in this article so many songs from Pet Sounds. But avoiding tracks simply because they were on one of the best albums ever created would have been unfair to the list, and reader, and dishonest. A bit like making a list of Leonard da Vinci's best works and leaving off the Mona Lisa. Except to say that Pet Sounds might be even more impressive than da Vinci's singular painting.

For example, Brian Wilson recorded the album in mono not only because that was how most albums were produced at the time but also because Wilson was deaf in one ear and wanted to be able to hear the fullness of the sound. "Wouldn't It Be Nice" has a wall-of-sound quality with lyrics about a longing that might never come true. Instead of making a toned-down version of melancholy, Wilson once again gets a juxtaposition between the music and words in a perfect way.

"God Only Knows" (1966)

This is arguably the greatest song ever created. Carl Wilson, Brian's brother, takes lead vocals on the song but the lead is not the most important part of the vocal track and far from it. Instead, there are three contrapuntal vocal parts that undercut the lead somewhat. Whether Brian Wilson meant to or not (and with Wilson, there was literally nothing the Beach Boys did during the 1960s that he did not conceive of prior to a song being recorded), this track might be as close to Wagner's idea of deconstructing a melody as any pop song ever.

The instruments used in the sound are not all normal ones. For instance, as part of the mix are plastic orange juice cups. The drums near the end are reminiscent of Wagner's use of strings on "Ride of the Valkyries." And somehow, the song is one of exquisite and unique beauty.

Read more from AudioPhix