There are two songs called “Good Vibrations” that have hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 during it’s nearly 60 years of existence.
The first is the epitome of studio wizardry and psychedelic pop, the Beach Boys “Good Vibrations,” which has been called, among other things, “illustrious,” and “era-defining,” and is generally regarded as one of the greatest songs of all time for its ingenuity, experimentation, and lasting influence on popular music.
Unfortunately, I’m not writing about Brian Wilson’s pocket symphony, I’m writing about the second (and completely unrelated) song of the same name, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s “Good Vibrations,” which hit #1 for one week on October 5th, 1991.
Marky Mark, now better known to the masses as movie star Mark Wahlberg (but he’ll always be Marky Mark to me), was just like any other Boston kid, except for the fact that his big brother Donnie Wahlberg (current star of the CBS TV show, Blue Bloods, and also in Saw II-V) had hit it big with his band, the New Kids on the Block. Mark had actually been a member of the New Kids for about three months before deciding (for some reason) that he would rather pursue a solo career. Riding the wave of popularity that surrounded Donnie, he gathered a “Funky Bunch” to back him up, including Hector Barros (alias: Hector the Booty Inspector – not joking that was his actual nickname), and a bunch of other guys who frankly really don’t matter. They ended up recording and releasing “Good Vibrations” as their first, and most successful single.
As a song, “Good Vibrations” is a marker between C+C Music Factory’s “Everybody Dance Now” , “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice, and Real McCoy’s “Another Night” on strictly musical terms. Produced by Donnie, “Good Vibrations” combines euro-dance scene rhythms, piano led-melodies, booming house-synthetic drums and all your favorite DJ squeaky noises, the combination of which fully came into fruition in the 90s [before it quickly (and mercifully) died with the rise of alternative/grunge] along with some really poor, really obnoxious, really terrible white guy rapping thinking that he’s the sex bomb dot com and that he’s representing a movement or something like that.
Socially…needless to say, this song is extremely dated, and is pretty embarrassing to listen to, even on headphones. I can give other songs with similar musical themes that came out around that time a pass (Ace of Base’s “The Sign,” Real McCoy’s “Another Night,” 2 Unlimited’s “Get Ready For This,” and even my personal favorite of theirs “No Limit”) because I actually believe that it took some sort of musical talent to make those songs, they’re catchier and better put together than “Good Vibrations,” but mainly because this song has fuckin’ Mark Wahlberg rapping about how “the vibration’s good like Sunkist” and how “makin’ you feel the rhythm is my occupation,” where the other ones don’t have Mark Wahlberg saying those things.
I can’t imagine listening to this song seriously nowadays, except as a throwback to simpler (and weirder, more euro house-music oriented) times.
Luckily for us, Marky Mark and his aforementioned Funky Bunch had a relatively short lifespan. They would release one more single, “Wildside,” which I’m not listening to because I’m not a sadist, and then disappeared from the music world. Marky Mark, however, used this song as a launching pad to a very successful modelling campaign for Calvin Klein, and he has actually had a respectable acting career with “Boogie Nights,” “The Departed,” “The Fighter,” “The Other Guys,” and “Ted,” as well as M Night Shamalamadingdong’s “The Happening,” “Transformers 4,” and “I Heart Huckabees.” He also had a hell of a cocaine addiction, and was arrested for attempted murder and assault before he joined the Funky Bunch, but that’s a story for another time…
Actually, no it’s not, he went to jail for 45 days after beating a Vietnamese guy with a stick. Oof.