top of page

Flashback Video: 'Kokomo' by The Beach Boys

Ever since the dawn of MTV and Friday Night Videos, the music video has significantly impacted musical tastes and pop culture. It might not be as extreme as when the Buggles declared that "Video Killed the Radio Star", but there is no arguing that the music video certainly could make or break a song's popularity. So this regular Flashback Video feature will serve to remember some of the music videos from the great '80s decade that made an impact on me in one way or another.

This issue we will cover "Kokomo" by The Beach Boys. The song was released in June of 1988 as part of the soundtrack for the film Cocktail and then later as part of their 1989 album Still Cruisin'. It was very commercially successful that summer becoming the band's first original Top 20 single in 20 years and their most recent Top 40 hit (not counting their supportive role on "Wipeout" by The Fat Boys in 1987) to this day. It spent 28 weeks on the chart and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November of 1988 then by January of 1989 went on to be certified Platinum for selling over 1 million copies in the U.S. alone. "Kokomo" also reached #1 in Australia and the Top 10 in at least six other countries making it an international hit.

Many people do not realize that Kokomo is not a real place. The song also mentions several real Caribbean islands (including Aruba, Bahamas, Jamaica, Bermuda, Martinique, and Montserrat), but it Kokomo is a fictitious tropical paradise. The music video for "Kokomo" is interesting for a couple reasons. At first glance, it is a pretty basic video with clips from the movie Cocktail mixed with the band performing the song. One interesting note is that they are performing in front of the then-recently opened Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World in Florida. You can see it in the background and they were some of the very first guest to stay at this incredible Disney resort.

The Beach Boys were actually there to film an ABC TV Special that included them performing "Wipeout" with The Fat Boys. John Stamos was part of the special since he was one of the stars of ABC's Full House and he had met Mike Love and the guys at a previous concert. The decision to film the "Kokomo" music video was kind of impromptu and since Stamos happened to be there, they asked him to be in the video. According to Stamos, “So we were doing this ABC special and it was this last minute thing: ‘Hey can you guys just run 'Kokomo' real fast. We’ll put up a couple cameras.’ It really wasn’t part of the plan for the day, and we just kind of threw it up there and did it maybe twice. It started raining and we went back to the hotel. And that was it.” So that is why you see John Stamos playing the bongos and steel drums in the "Kokomo" music video.

Here is the music video for "Kokomo" by The Beach Boys...

Continuing the connection with Stamos, The Beach Boys would appear in a season 2 episode of Full House which originally aired in November of 1988 and they not-surprisingly performed a part of "Kokomo". They would return for several other episodes of Full House over the course of the show's run as well. Many people seemingly do not like "Kokomo" as a song, but it still features those amazing Beach Boys harmonies and really is a perfect song as used in Cocktail, so what's not to like?

Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!


bottom of page