Smooth Sailing: Easy Listening & Sunshine Pop

Joan Smalls (Michael Kors)
Naturally created in California, sunshine pop was a mid-'60s mainstream pop style typified by rich harmony vocals, lush orchestrations, and a happy-go-lucky mood. The genre began as an outgrowth of the 1960s California Sound and folk rock movements. It was often mildly influenced by psychedelia, but it usually didn't aim to evoke any sort of drug-induced mind expansion. It simply drew from the warm and whimsical sides of psychedelic pop, incorporating production innovations of the time.

Sunshine pop largely consisted of lesser-known artists who were inspired by more popular groups like the Beach Boys, the Mamas & the Papas, and the 5th Dimension. In some ways the genre is similar to baroque pop music through being elaborate and melancholic, though it also crossed into folk pop and Brill Building styles.

Sunshine pop enjoyed mainstream success in the latter half of the decade, with many of its top 40 hits peaking in the spring and summer of 1967, especially just before the Summer of Love. Popular bands include the Mamas & the Papas, Spanky & Our Gang, and the Association. Later soulful elements popped up in the genre with acts like Rotary Connection (produced by Charles Stepney) and Friends of Distinction. Sunshine pop disappeared in the mid-'70s, although the Eurovision Song Contest used the happy-go-lucky atmosphere long after that.

Enjoy this new episode of Smooth Sailing!


Poppy Ajudha
– Love Falls Down (2017)
The Three Degrees – Love The One You're With (1975)
The Hobbits – Sunny Day Girl (1967)
The Young Rascals ‎– How Can I Be Sure (1967)
The Gold Setting ‎– Being Without You (2017)
Brent Cash – I Think I'm Falling In Love (2008)
The Bells – Moody Manitoba Morning (1972)
Dee Dee Warwick – I’m Gonna Make You Love Me (1967)
The Friends Of Distinction ‎– Love Or Let Me Be Lonely (1970)
Dave Grusin – California Montage (1969)
Jacky & Roy – Didn’t Want To Have To Do It (1966)
The New Rotary Connection – I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun (1971)
Kadhja Bonet – Honeycomb (2016)
José Feliciano – California Dreamin’ (1968)
The Mamas & The Papas ‎– People Like Us (1971)
Spanky & Our Gang ‎– Like To Get To Know You (1967)
The New Birth – Never Can Say Goodbye (1971)


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