The Beach Boys  are often regarded as one of the most prolific and influential American bands of all time. However, the group has has its fair share of missteps and controversies over the years. They found early commercial success with songs like "Surfin' USA" and "I Get Around"  and critical success with the album Pet Sounds. As time went on and the musical landscape changed, the band struggled to find their voice. Their follow up albums flopped commercially and critically, inner turmoil created division in the band, and rumor was that they were on the brink of breaking up.

In 1971, The Beach Boys released Surf's Up , their most socially-aware and emotional album up to that point. Gone were the band's matching outfits and singing about girls and surfing, and in it's place were more downtempo tracks about the environment, protests, and taking good care of your feet.

Writer and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib sits down (remotely) with us to discuss one of the weirder entries in the Beach Boys' discography. We talk about the sudden shift in image for the band, The Beach Boys' place in American pop music, and why they struggled to keep up with music trends.


More on Hanif Abdurraqib

More on Surf's Up

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Surf's Up unless otherwise indicated):

  • Feel Flows
  • Don't Go Near The Water
  • The Beach Boys: I'll Be Home For Christmas
  • Long Promised Road
  • The Beach Boys: Good Vibrations
  • Surf's Up
  • Don't Go Near The Water
  • The Coasters: Riot in Cell Block No. 9
  • Student Demonstration Time
  • A Day In The Life of A Tree
  • Don't Go Near The Water
  • Feel Flows
  • Lookin' At Tomorrow (A Welfare Song)
  • Disney Girls (1957)
  • Take A Load Off Your Feet
  • Feel Flows
  • A Day In The Life Of A Tree
  • Bullion: God Only Knows
  • Sly & The Family Stone: Just Like A Baby
  • Bill Withers: Hope She'll Be Happier

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find on there.
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