Song Comparison: I Get Around

Plenty of artists deal with problems of a vast musical universe. A typical example: genuine inspiration is negated by another artist having the same idea generations past. This is most associated with chords (because there are only so many possible progressions), but also involves band names, costumes, lyrics, and song titles.

I’m sure by the time Tupac Shakur released his gem “I Get Around,” he knew the Beach Boys released their jewel of the same name 29 years before. Conversely, I highly doubt the surviving Wilson brothers know of Tupac’s west coast classic outside of a hypothetical lawsuit. Whatever the relation between the artists, both songs exemplify California pop during the two most creatively liberating postwar decades.

The first installment shows The Beach Boys at their bubblegum pop peak, before recording Pet Sounds, music production’s holy grail. It’s simple, blithe, essential surf rock. It doesn’t have the creative majesty of “Good Vibrations” (another song with a 90s counterpart, though Marky Mark doesn’t deserve commentary beyond the reel), but it still stands as one of their most recognizable songs.

Tupac’s version is also an essential summer track. His sleaziness leaves any comparisons to Brian Wilson aside, while the music video remains one of the grimiest sex romps nearly twenty years after it first hit MTV. And no, I can’t compare Wilson’s untouchable harmonies to Tupac’s untouchable flow, but much like its predecessor, Tupac’s version isn’t recognized as part of his most celebrated work. The production shines, however, demonstrating how Death Row Records, despite its reputation, churned out the chillest instrumentals ever heard.

Besides their shared title, one should compare these tracks in order to track the evolution of California pop. Hawthorne and Oakland are separated only by a six hour drive on the 5 freeway, but their contributions to the airwaves only 29 years apart might as well be separated by oceans.




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