The Beach Boys Today! Songs Ranked

The Beach Boys Today! is the eighth studio album by the American rock band the Beach Boys, released March 8, 1965 on Capitol Records. It signaled a departure from their previous records with its orchestral sound, intimate subject matter, and abandonment of car or surf songs. Side one features an uptempo sound, while side two consists mostly of introspective ballads. Supported by this thematic approach, the record became an early example of a rock concept album and established the group as album artists rather than just a singles band. It has since become regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time. Today! reached number four in the US during a 50-week chart stay and yielded three top 20 singles: “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)” (number 9), “Dance, Dance, Dance” (number 8), and “Do You Wanna Dance?” (number 12). A rerecorded version of “Help Me, Rhonda”, issued in April, became the band’s second number-one hit in the US. In the UK, the album was released in April 1966 and peaked at number 6. Today! continues to attract critical acclaim, with commentators usually focusing on the second side of the record, often describing it as a precursor to Pet Sounds (1966). Here are all of The Beach Boys Today! songs ranked.

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10. Dance, Dance, Dance

“Dance, Dance, Dance is the rock and roll single of the album along the lines of I Get Around and Fun, Fun, Fun. Of the three 1964 tracks, this is the most believable for that period of the band, but it is an effective later venture in the mould of their earlier hits. Although not as iconic as the aforementioned, it contains all the trademarks with an infectious chorus and highly charged sound. Sleigh bells of all things open the song, showing Brian’s willingness to use unconventional instruments for the songs. This closes the band’s uptempo side 1, and with all the quality stuff within it, it is hard to believe that the A side is likely the weaker of the two.”

9. Kiss Me, Baby

“One of their very best songs as far as I’m concerned. It is the pop ballad at its finest with Mike and Brian sharing lead vocals. It almost works like a conversation with two people exchanging lines, albeit set to gorgeous music. Kiss Me Baby is one of those songs that still sounds fantastic if you remove either the vocals or the instrumental track, being rather complex on both fronts. Yet, together they work so perfectly too.”

The Beach Boys - The Beach Boys Today! Lyrics and Tracklist | Genius

8. Don’t Hurt My Little Sister

“Like Good To My Baby, it sits as one of the lesser songs but that’s to the credit of this album. Out of the songs here, this and Dance Dance Dance are probably most reminiscent of past songs in the more simple stucture, particularly due to straight-forward verses and a pulsating guitar riff in the vein of the solid Farmer’s Daughter off Surfin’ USA. At the same time, it contains a rather melancholic transition between the verses and chorus that slightly foreshadows the album’s second side.”

See more: The Beach Boys Albums Ranked

7. She Knows Me Too Well

“Yet another fantastic ballad, this is particularly impresssive given that it was released as the B-side to When I Grow Up the previous summer. Considering, this is the band sounding well ahead of its time. One vocal hook on the lead, in particular, stills sound fresh and original today (“know me so well that she can tell”). Brian’s lead is a tour-de-force and has to be one of his best vocal performance up there with Don’t Worry Baby.”

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6. When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)

“A harpsichord provides something completely different for the band and brings the first inkling of the band’s transition into the psychedelic sound. It was actually released as a single in August 1964 and could therefore be considered the big leap forward for the band. The lyrics are fitting to the album in balancing the lingering innocence of the band’s sound along with the more introspective, mature aspect to the album. With this in mind, it manages to provide both a message of postivity and melancholy at the same time, to a fairly upbeat tune.”

5. In the Back of My Mind

“The last of the great ballads on Today! and essentially the album’s close, this one has a softer sound to it. With a rich orchestral backing track, this one sounds sophisticated while the more patient, romantic aspect to the song calls back to an earlier time and place. Dennis delivers one of his best lead vocals and is provided the feat of both opening and closing the album.”

See more: The Beach Boys Songs Ranked

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4. Please Let Me Wonder

“The first of five top-class ballads on the album, and one of the best, this has the band had sounding like they never quite had before. It is a beautiful, melancholic love song sung by Brian and Mike set to a full, lush backing track. It served as a B-side to Do You Wanna Dance in 1965, and although it is not one of the most well-known, it is one of their best.”

3. Good to My Baby

“That this could be considered one of the weaker songs on the album is hard to believe. In my opinion, this would be one of the better songs on any of the previous albums, signifying just how much of a leap forward Today! is. It consists of Brian and Mike alternating vocals over a fairly catchy guitar riff. It also has an understated and effective chorus.”

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2. Do You Wanna Dance?

“A Dennis vocal and a cover of the 1958 Bobby Freeman song, this is quite a considerable step up from both the original and the 1961 Cliff Richard version. The chorus, featuring a bellowing mixture of vocals, is easily the highlight of the song and the production hints at the more progrssive nature of this album.”

1. Help Me, Rhonda

“This is not the recognizable version of the song. Rather, it’s the original album version that came out before being tinkered into a #1 hit single. Hence, the different spelling of the title. On the down side, the chorus is undersold with fainter, less smooth vocals, leaving the single version as the definitive one. That being said, the guitar riff is actually a little more prominent here, and Al, delivering his first real lead to the band, already sounds like a pro.”