Hey, everybody, look! It's the amazing, time-traveling song!
No other song pulled this off. It got made in 1988 by a band from the 1960s, for the soundtrack to a movie (Cocktail) about a man who goes to work at a TGI-Friday's (a franchise named for the 1978 disco film). The song replaced a cover of a 1965 song ("A Groovy Kind of Love") in the hit charts. Oh, yeah, that movie Cocktail's soundtrack also had "Don't Worry, Be Happy," a song whose title and chorus was taken from an Indian mystic in the 1960s. When the soundtrack album was released, oldies radio stations were so confused that they played it. To this day, you can't convince people that Cocktail came out during the Reagan administration.
Since this is the Internet, we can't let it go without comment: 1988 was also the year a song came out which has enjoyed much popularity in the 21st century on the Internet. It's a little number called "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley. That's how powerful Kokomo is. It can make songs near it time-travel, with its mighty reality-warping vortex.
If you think that this is illogical, we're just getting warmed up.
"Kokomo" is a song that mentions many, many tropical locations around the Caribbean, including Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Key Largo, Montego, Martinique, Montserrat, and Port-au-Prince. But chiefly, it mentions Kokomo, a fine, tropical paradise in the state of Indiana. Wait, doesn't that sound a little far north? Okay, there's also a Kokomo in Mississippi. Warmer, granted, but still not Mai Tai weather.
Well, there used to be a place called Kokomo Island in the Caribbean, but it was actually named that by the Sandals/Royal Caribbean resort/cruise line company. And they named it after the song. We told you this song could warp reality! Today the former Kokomo Island goes by the name of "Sandals Cay," anyway. Since this time, numerous Caribbean-area businesses involved in the tourist industry have cashed in on the popularity of the song, naming bars, hotels, and casinos after it. If you go south of the U.S. and start asking "Where's Kokomo?" you're likely to get a sign tacked up and a hearty "Right here!" for a response.
Where does this leave us? We are not going to embarrass ourselves trying to dance in a hula skirt and trying to be tropical in Indiana. But we'll be saved.
According to the band, the inspiration for the song was a pool-side bar at a hotel in Islamorada, one of the little island towns in the Florida Keys. In fact, the video was shot at Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World in Florida. Yes, that's right, we're in Florida. And we're staying there. With Walt Disney involved, if we dig any deeper we're likely to find out that they used animatronic Beach Boys.
This came together when the music producer Terry Melcher was hired to work on a song with The Beach Boys for the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail. The Beach Boys' glory days were behind them, and they had been playing fairs and nostalgia shows. They were one of the most popular bands of the '60s, and had a bunch of songs dealing with recreation and fun, which is why they were asked to record for the movie.In our interview with Mike Love, he told us how it came together: "Terry was in the studio doing a track with a demo, because we were asked to do the song for the soundtrack of the movie Cocktail, featuring Tom Cruise. So we were asked by the director to come up with a song for this part of the movie where Tom Cruise goes from a bartender in New York to Jamaica. So that's where I came up with the 'Aruba, Jamaica' idea, that part.So Terry was in the studio doing the track and they didn't have the chorus yet. They just had a certain amount of bars, but there was nothing going on there. I said, 'Well, here's what I want to do.' And I remember I had told them about the part before. But he said, 'Uh huh. How does it go again?' So I literally, over the phone - he was in the studio and I was on the phone - sang [deadpan slow recitation]: 'Aruba, Jamaica, ooo, I want to take you.' So he's writing that down, and I'm singing it in the scene, the notes, and the timing of it in tempo to the track." Album : Cocktail Soundtrack Released : 1988 US chart position : 1 UK chart position : 25