Rhapsody App for
Rhapsody International, Inc.

Sunshine Pop

by Barry Walters  |  October 7, 2013


Sunshine pop is one of those genres that didn't get a name or get recognized as its own thing until decades after the fact. It started in the mid-'60s when The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson started losing interest in straightforward surfing and hot rod songs -- right around the time when his fascination with production techniques sharply escalated. Sunshine didn't simply enable beach fun: It could also trigger a spiritual experience so powerful it would alter consciousness. These songs reasoned that nature alone could get you high.

Soon the studios of Los Angeles were bursting with this harmony-based, session-player-enabled soft psychedelic pop. Groups like The Association, The 5th Dimension and The Mamas & The Papas -- often supported by overlapping teams of producers, songwriters and studio musicians -- infiltrated AM radio with emphatically light, multitracked lushness. The sunshine sound then spread east to inspire similarly styled ensembles like Bloomington, Ill.'s Spanky & Our Gang, and even to England with The Flowerpot Men. But heavier, more self-contained bands conquered the free-form FM dial, and when Woodstock hit in 1969, protest-themed acid rock almost immediately wiped out the sunshine sound, sending would-be softies to either kiddie bubblegum or more mature and introspective singer-songwriter fare.

Rediscovered in the '90s and the early '00s, sunshine pop benefited from the CD reissuing boom, which turned forgotten talents like Sagittarius/Millennium collaborator Curt Boettcher into cult heroes by emphasizing through remastered clarity the art of their intricately crafted miniature symphonies. This playlist samples sunny acts huge, obscure, long-lasting and fleeting. Up, up and away!

Related Posts


Related Posts


Rhapsody app on your desktop or mobile device.

Listen to the songs you love. Anytime, anywhere.

14 day free trial, then just $9.99/month for Rhapsody Premier. View all plans