Some bands I just like from the moment I first hear them. Others grow on me over time. Sometimes, returning to a band I hated sheds some new light. But I can only think of one band that I came to appreciate by actively arguing against them: the Beach Boys. While the Beatles versus the Beach Boys is not quite the knock-down, drag-out fight that the Beatles versus the Stones can become, there are a few Brian Wilson adherents out there who are worth setting straight and, of course, I often feel a duty to help out. Over the course of this noble effort, I didn’t find out that I was wrong. On the contrary, it is even clearer that the Beatles’ influence over popular music is both broader and deeper than the Beach Boys. What I did find out though is that the Beach Boys had a short burst of greatness and, for a brief moment in the mid-1960’s, may have been a half step ahead. I planned to build my arsenal by spending a lot of time in the Beach Boys catalog and what I found was largely what I expected: pre-rock pop music with great harmonies. Big deal. It had no teeth and with the exception of Dennis, they didn’t even surf. Superficial as it was, I could at least believe the Beatles wanted to hold her hand. What I had never paid much attention to prior to scouring the battlefield of my arguments for something volatile was that the Beach Boys also matured lyrically and musically and comparing timelines, they were a few months ahead of the Beatles (which would translate to years in the more recent release-a-record-every-three-years approach). Today! is vastly underrated. Pet Sounds, while not underrated by any means, was still a little too good for its own good at the time. Wilson did finally reach perfection with “Good Vibrations,” but it and aborted Smile sessions were the end of Wilson’s and the Beach Boys’ greatness. Smiley Smile and Surf’s Up are pretty good post-Brian-as-de-facto-leader albums, but pop music would be the same without them whereas the Beatles pushed the boundaries of pop right up to the end. Two records and single, albeit perhaps the best single of the 1960’s, were not enough to change my mind about the Beatles versus the Beach Boys, but it significantly changed my opinion of the Beach Boys on their own.