With nary a granule of intended irony, The Beach Boys — scare quotes optional but totally warranted — are touring this summer to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their 1964 hit, “Fun, Fun, Fun”. Considering all of the death, drug abuse, family squabbling, dead-horse flogging, and Full House tie-ins that have characterized this band’s long and sordid history, no song is a worse summation of what they’ve become than “Fun, Fun, Fun”. And yet Mike Love and Bruce Johnston won’t be denied.
Sans mastermind Brian Wilson, of course, the Boys are coming soon to a concert hall or casino near you. The tragicomic trek is sure to feature all of the group’s feel-good hits, but it got us thinking about some of the least fun tunes in their repertoire — the ones they really ought to be playing at this stage in the game.
The following list includes purposefully sad gems from their classic early period, unsettling masterpieces from their psychedelic heyday, and just plain awful cuts from the four decades since. These are songs of heartbreak, death, despair, and ecological decline, among other topics. The only thing more depressing would be a musical retelling of the group’s history. Luckily, there’s no one left in the lineup with the talent or energy to write it.