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Rate-O-Rama: California Girls

Rate-O-Rama #22: The Beach Boys / Leif Garrett / David Lee Roth

By Rick Henry Christopher Published 22 days ago Updated 21 days ago 5 min read
Top Story - February 2024
The Beach Boys / Leif Garrett / David Lee Roth

Welcome to Rate-O-Rama!

If you wish to receive a notice when the next Rate-O-Rama post is published please mention that you would like a notification in the comments section

Rate-O-Rama is a reader participation game.

Every Thursday evening I will publish a Rate-O-Rama article which will feature three versions of a popular song.

The object is to listen to each of the music videos provided within the post.

After listening to each video you can rate each song in the comments section below.

(You must be a member to comment. If you are not a member you can join Vocal Media for FREE. You don’t ever have to pay for membership unless you choose to upgrade your membership)


The rating method is easy. Simply give each song a rating of 1 to 100.

(The more you like the song the higher the rating).

If possible, please provide a brief comment to let us now what you think of each song.

After a week (Thursday evening) I will tally the ratings and in the next Rate-O-Rama post, I will announce the average rating each song received.


Last time we featured the Folk Rock classic: “Hazy Shade of Winter" as recorded by Simon & Garfunkel (1966), The Bangles (1987), and Gerard Way & Ray Toro (2019).

The following are the average ratings for each song as result of the votes:

🥇 The Bangles: 90.1

🥈 Simon & Garfunkel: 87.1

🥉 Gerard Way & Ray Toro: 81.9


The Twenty-Second Edition of Rate-O-Rama features three renditions of the Pop-Rock Sur-Rock classic: “California Girls."


The Beach Boys (1965)

“California Girls” was written by Beach Boys founding members Brian Wilson and Mike Love. The song was produced by Brian Wilson. Wilson was especially proud of “California Girls” because of its complex production. He said the intro to the song was the greatest piece of music he's ever written.

The song was a major hit worldwide reaching #1 in South Africa, #2 in Canada, and #3 in the US. It also made the Top Ten in New Zealand and Sweden and the Top 40 in Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK. “California Girls” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included it as one of the "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll".


Leif Garrett (1977)

A cover of “California Girls” was included on Leif Garrett's self-titled debut album. Garrett was 15 when he recorded and released the album. “California Girls” had been considered for single release but was ultimately passed on due to the fact that Garrett already had a hit with a Beach Boys song, “Surfer Girl.

Despite not being released as a single the song was a popular album cut for Garrett and garnered some radio airplay.


David Lee Roth (1984)

Roth recorded “California Girls” for his EP Crazy Like the Heat, a four-song collection of covers. Roth released the song as his first solo single shortly before leaving the multi-platinum-selling hard rock band Van Halen.

Carl Wilson, a founding member of the Beach Boys, sang backup vocals on Roth's version as did singer/songwriter Christopher Cross, you might remember him for his early 1980s hits “Sailing” and “Ride Like the Wind.”

Roth took the song to #3 in the US, the same position as did the Beach Boys. He also made it to the Top Ten in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.


My Thoughts


The Beach Boys:

The vocals alone make this song, and any Beach Boys song, stand above the others. It's hard to top the Beach Boys' vocal harmonies. Brian Wilson’s and Mike Love's double-tracked lead vocals are superbly executed. I'm especially drawn to Mike Love's confident singing style.

I love Brian Wilson's orchestral opening, he is a musical genius. Putting Carl Wilson's lead guitar upfront gives it an extra resonance and depth.

This is one of my favorite Beach Boys songs. It has that feel-good feel that the Beach Boys did so well. I give this one a 100.


Leif Garrett:

I am compromised on this one. While I'm glad Garrett's producers kept the orchestral opening in the song, they did little to build on the Beach Boys' arrangement. Garrett's opening is almost anti-climatic.

At first I wasn't too hip on the sped-up pace but it grew on me. I suspect they sped it up to give it dance floor appeal. Garrett's lead vocal at best is passable. He cuts short on some of the notes. Despite this, I like the youthful energy that comes through in his voice. The best part of the song is the backing vocals which are performed by the Ron Hicklin Singers. They are mostly known as the real singers doing the background vocals on The Partridge Family recordings. They can also be heard on albums by Gary Lewis and the Playboys, The Monkees, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, and others. I give Leif Garrett's rendition a 74.


David Lee Roth:

Straight up I'm not much of a fan of DLR's singing style. The shouts, grunts, and groans he adds to his singing really do not appeal to me. However, Roth is a well trained rock singer and he does know what he's doing in terms of vocal production. Musically, I like his harder edged rendition. I give Roth 78 points.


I will be back next week with the results of this Rate-O-Rama Edition.

Last Week's Rate-O-Rama:

With Love, RHC ❤️

pop culturesong reviewsrockpophistoryfeaturebands80s music70s music60s music

About the Creator

Rick Henry Christopher

Writing is a distraction for me. It takes me to places unknown that fulfill my need for intellectual stimulus, emotional release, and a soothing of the breaks and bruises of the day.

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Comments (24)

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  • Anna 10 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳

  • Susan Fourtané14 days ago

    Beach Boys: 100. California Girls is a classic and so are the BB. I agree, it has that feel-good feeling that actually makes you dance. Leif Garrett: 75. Nothing special. But not bad either. David Lee Roth: 10. I am being generous. I can't stand any shouting and I definitely don't like the hard rock vibe he incorporated. It's amazing how bad he makes a song which I like sound. His voice makes me feel nervous (to the point that I have to listen to the BB's version again to feel good). DLR's overall video is annoying. Definitely not a winner in any sense. ---- This was fun to play. :)

  • Sandra Tena Cole16 days ago

    Ooohhh, whilst I agree with your reasons and am not a huge fan of David Lee Roth, I give him the 100 just for the cheekiness of what he turned the song into 😅 The Beach Boys are always an uplift, so they get 100 from me as well, but Leif Garret was a bit disappointing so I give him 75. Also, I'm loving how different everyone's opinions are on the different versions ❣️

  • Rachel Robbins16 days ago

    Beach boys 90 Leif Garrett - so nice to be reminded of the boy in my sisters teenage magazines but it’s not great to listen to - 60 David Lee Roth - too cheesy - 45

  • Naveed 17 days ago

    You're doing amazing work—keep it up, congratulations!

  • Sarah Loyd18 days ago

    The Beach Boys are classic. I give them 89/90. Leif Garret's was fine but didn't wow me, 80. David Lee Roth's version was kind of cheesy to me. He at least did a mix of his style and the Beach Boys, 75. Love this idea. Keep the posts coming. 😊

  • Lamar Wiggins18 days ago

    I agree with your critiques. The Beach Boys singing can’t be touched. They perfected their style. Leif Garret’s was just ok. And the Intro to DLR was drawn out and annoying, although I smiled at one part. Lol. BB - 100 Leif- 70 DLR 72

  • I have to go with the beach boys because I grew up with my mom playing them and buddy Holly constantly so 100 but I love David's version so don't know if I'm breaking the rules here but 100 for him too. Not a fan of Leif so 90

  • Grz Colm19 days ago

    Congrats on your top story Rick. I enjoyed reading your critique and analysis of each of these renditions. ☺️👏 Beach Boys 98 - a classic, love it. Enjoy the instruments and arrangement by Brian etc Leif Garrett 50 - meh! Not loving the version. David Lee Roth - 56, a bit better! Hahah at the clip. Thanks!

  • Shirley Belk20 days ago

    Taking me back....thank you :) Beach Boys=100 (can't beat the harmony of the original version) David Lee Roth=90 (great video and sounded true to original) Leif Garrett=50 (just No...)

  • JBaz20 days ago

    OK , I reviewed and listened and argued with myself. But I have come to a conclusion: This was a tough one. David Lee - 97 For rocking this out in a summer fun 8o's way adding a little umfh and style. Beach boys -95 original arrangement is still the best but to innocent for the topic Leif -84 for effort and probably had very little say in the arrangement

  • sleepy drafts20 days ago

    Oh, this is just awesome. The Beach Boys get a solid 100 from me. Leif Garret, 80. DLR gets a sweet 65 from me. Thanks for sharing these!! 💗

  • Brenton F21 days ago

    Being a massive Van Halen fan (and avid Sammy Hagar hater) DLR get 75 I don't mind the BB, but they had better songs 24 LG 1 - only because, to this day the mere mention of his name makes missing parts of me cringe and shudder in fear and distaste! Congrats on the TS!

  • Carol Townend21 days ago

    The Beach Boys stands out more to me. The shift in the chorus and melodies between voices adds passion and cheer to the song, and I think the music is more upbeat and catchy. I give them 200 for their excellent pitch, tone and united singing. I quite like Leif Garret's upbeat and cheerful tones. I love his style, which makes the beat of this song crisp. I also like the flirty style of his voice, though, in the chorus, he is a little too high or low on some notes, so for me, this would be a 75.5. I'm sad to say David Lee Roth's version is a 10.5. Although he tries to put effort into the song, I find his vocals flat and off-pitch. He doesn't seem to feed his voice into the song; He tries to soup up the video instead by focusing on the girls rather than the song. I feel his melody is completely off-course for this song.

  • Babs Iverson21 days ago

    California Girls by the Beach Boys will always be number one with me. Beach Boys 100 + Leif Garret 78 David Lee Roth. 78 Rick, congratulations on Top Story!!!💕♥️♥️

  • Mackenzie Davis21 days ago

    Love your analysis of each version! I didn't like the sped up version that Leif did either, but I can see the appeal for a dance scene, like you said. I like the Beach Boys version best too. I'll land on 98, as I think the pace could be a wee bit faster. However everything else is perfect, the backups, the style, the cool riffs and intro...even the music video is cooler than the others. Leif Garrett: Eh. The voice is nice, but too young and I don't like how straight the arrangement is; too boring. Intro was good, though. So I'd say a solid C. 75. David Lee Roth: I liked this better than Leif, but still not my favorite. More interesting, I like the rock vibes. Weird intro, lol. Backup vocals fall flat for me too. 83.

  • JBaz21 days ago

    Oh, Rick…. I really have to think on this one. First off never knew Lief sang it so I will listen. But the 80’s version calls out to me. I’ll return with my vote

  • Rachel Deeming21 days ago

    Rick, can I just say how much I loved your analysis of which song you liked the best? Made me laugh. So, Beach Boys. Hands down 100 for me. The best. If I could play the Beach Boys and bottle the sensation of warmth, good living and sunshine they give me, I would have a whiff of that every day and feel good for the rest of my life. One of my favourite bands. Leif Garrett - nope. Wishy washy. Took a bold song and made it bland. Yawn. Weak lyrics, cheesy tinny vibe. 60 from me David Lee Roth. The man has some, erm, questionable style but I liked his rendition which surprises me as if Van Halen comes on the radio I generally turn it off. Do not like. But it had more too it that Leif, not as great as the Beach Boys, not even close so I will give this 75.

  • Kelsey Clarey21 days ago

    Beah Boys: 85. It's solid, but not my favourite Beach Boys song. Leif Garrett: 86. Not sure exactly what it was, but something about this one just grabbed me a bit more than the other two. David Lee Roth: 75. It's fine, and the video was funny, but I don't like it as much as the other two.

  • (Write in ballot) Katy Perry California Gu~rls: 100 Beach Boys. 85 Not as nice of a sweet sidedish to Wouldn't It Be Nice as i remembered Leif Garrett: 50 I didn't know they had nightcore remixes in 1977! it sounds its playing 30% too fast. Roth: 85 Was funny back in the 80s!

  • Beach Boys are stellar. The video is not. They don't even look like they're trying to look like they're singing. 95 Leif Garrett does a nice job but his voice doesn't sound sufficiently mature. (I know, he's only 15 in the video. Still....) 80 DLR adds some humor & fun to it. 90

  • I love this. I have to give David Lee Roth a tie with the original Beach Boys. I give Lief Garrett a B minus cause of the presentations by the original harmonies of the Beach Boys and ultimate performance by DLR.

  • Marie Wilson22 days ago

    DLR 100 that's all

  • Kendall Defoe 22 days ago

    BB: 90 DLR:9 The other one...:1

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