You may have heard of Mar-a-Lago. It’s the large Palm Beach, Florida estate where Donald Trump retreats often after he takes off his President’s suit and clocks out for the week. Once again, Trump will be spending the Easter weekend at his resort while the rest of us become increasingly steeped in dread and paranoia. I’m sorry to say, this blog started with a comment I made in Slack about how Mar-a-Lago always reminds me of the lyrics to the timeless, blissful Beach Boys song “Kokomo.” (Mar-a-Lago sounds like Montego and Key Largo.)
Ever since that magic moment, the Jezebel has been hooked on “Kokomo” like LSD, singing it in the shower and feeling its good vibrations. You will be, too, after this. But do you actually know anything about “Kokomo”? Probably not. Here are some fun facts about “Kokomo.”
The first thing that strikes you about the song, besides its general feeling of bliss—a product of the Beach Boys’ endemic surf sound that dominated the ’60s—is that you will never, ever get the chorus of “Kokomo” out of your head once you hear it. So here it is.
Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I want to take ya to
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go
ooh I want to take you down to
Kokomo, we’ll get there fast and then we’ll take it slow
That’s where we want to go, way down in Kokomo
When “Kokomo” was released in 1988, it became the Beach Boys’ first No. 1 hit in over two decades, following “Good Vibrations.”
According to Billboard:
When “Kokomo” went to No. 1 in November 1988, it gave the Beach Boys the longest span of chart-toppers in the history of the Billboard Hot 100. Some 24 years and four months had elapsed between the time “I Get Around” achieved pole position in 1964 and the coronation of “Kokomo.” That beat the previous record of 23 years, 11 months and two weeks set by George Harrison with the time span between “My Sweet Lord” to “Got My Mind Set on You.” The current record-holder is Cher, with 33 years, seven months and three weeks between “I Got You Babe” in 1965 and “Believe” in 1999.
According to founding Beach Boy member Mike Love, the group wanted and tried to get Wilson to record vocals for “Kokomo,” but Wilson’s infamous psychologist at the time, Dr. Landy, who was reportedly aiding with his drug abuse, shot it down.
Wilson doesn’t appear on the song but is featured in the music video. Here’s Mike Love talking about it.
4) Producer Terry Melcher, famous for being a former associate and reported target of Charles Manson, helped make “Kokomo” possible.
During the downslide of the Beach Boys’ career, the group was asked to record a song for the rom-com Cocktail, starring Tom Cruise. From Entertainment Weekly:
It wasn’t exactly a glamour assignment, but the Beach Boys needed the gig — in the late ’80s the band was floundering. Label-less and without a new album since 1985, they paid the bills playing oldies gigs at state fairs and amusement parks. In 1987, they had been reduced to recording a cover of “Wipeout” with corpulent rappers the Fat Boys.
Melcher facilitated the song’s production and “Kokomo” ended up earning the Beach Boys a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song and a Grammy nomination for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television. They lost both.
Guys, Kokomo doesn’t actually exist. Not near the Florida Keys. There was once a Caribbean island known as Kokomo, but in fact the Sandals/Royal Caribbean resort company gave it that name because of this Beach Boys song.
As we were talking about “Kokomo,” Jezebel’s Julianne Escobedo Shepherd suggested that if any of the Beach Boys voted for Trump, it would be Mike Love because, as she learned after watching a documentary about the making of Pet Sounds on Netflix, Love was against Brian Wilson singing about LSD.
Lo and Behold, Mike Love loves Trump.
Here’s a photo of him posing with Donald Trump, via his Facebook page: “Great day with Donald Trump and The Beach Boys at Mar Largo, West Palm Beach FL,” the caption reads. Truly sad.
Also note that the Boys were asked to perform at Trump’s Inauguration.
9) Speaking of “Kokomo,” that creepy photo of Ivanka Trump sitting on her dad’s lap was taken at a Beach Boys concert in Mar-a-Lago.
As Jezebel’s Stassa Edwards pointed out to us, this famous photo from 1996 happened courtesy of the Beach Boys.
Yes, bringing this journey full circle, the Beach Boys performed “Kokomo” in Mar-a-Lago, the place that inspired this blog post.
Baby, why don’t we (not) go...
Unfortunately, though Mike Love announces that they are about to perform it, this video cuts off right before they do.
If you have footage of the Beach Boys performing their hit “Kokomo” at Mar-a-Lago, please get in touch.