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KOKOMO (song)

Kokomo

Kokomo (song) – 1988

“Kokomo” is a song written by John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, Mike Love, and Terry Melcher and recorded by American rock band the Beach Boys. Its lyrics describe two lovers taking a trip to a relaxing place on an island off the Florida Keys called Kokomo. It was released as a single on July 18, 1988 by Elektra Records and became a No. 1 Hit in the United States, Japan, and Australia (where it topped for about two months). The single was released to coincide with the release of Roger Donaldson’s film Cocktail, and its subsequent soundtrack.

It was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television in 1988, but lost to Phil Collins’ “Two Hearts” (from the film Buster). “Two Hearts” and Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run” from Working Girl jointly beat it for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.

The song was written by John Phillips and Scott McKenzie in Virginia Beach in 1986 and recorded and produced shortly after by Phillips, as a duet between McKenzie and Denny Doherty of the Mamas and the Papas. That version remained unreleased until 2010, when it appeared on a posthumous album of John Phillips’ songs called Many Mamas, Many Papas, most of which were originally-recorded in the 1980s for a reconstituted touring version of the Mamas and the Papas, featuring himself, Doherty, daughter Mackenzie Phillips and Spanky McFarlane of Spanky and Our Gang.

When the Beach Boys were commissioned to produce a theme song for Cocktail, producer Terry Melcher contacted his old friend, Phillips, and asked if he had any songs that might be suitable. “Kokomo” was one of the songs Phillips sent Melcher. Another was “Somewhere Near Japan” (aka “Fairytale Girl”), which would also be recorded by the Beach Boys for their Still Cruisin’ album.

On the Beach Boys demo of “Kokomo”, lead vocals were performed by Mike Love and Terry Melcher. The demo harmonies include Terry Melcher, Bruce Johnston, Mike Love, and Jeff Foskett. At Disney Films’ request, the “Kokomo” demo was “upgraded” to a master recording, thus requiring members of the Beach Boys to re-record the demo vocals, except for Mike Love’s lead.

Track listings

3″ CD single

“Kokomo” – 3:34
“Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard – 2:23
“Hippy Hippy Shake” by The Georgia Satellites – 1:45
7″ single

“Kokomo” – 3:34

“Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard – 2:23
12″ maxi

“Kokomo” – 3:34

“Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard – 2:23
“Hippy Hippy Shake” by The Georgia Satellites – 1:45