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NNAMDÏ’s “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” cover does justice to a Beach Boys classic

The FADER’s transgender charity covers compilation FADER & Friends Volume 1 is out now, available exclusively on Bandcamp until December 1, 2023. 100% of the proceeds go towards the Transgender Law Center, Mermaids, and Rainbow Railroad. Throughout the month of November, we’re speaking to the artists who contributed to the 44-song collection about the songs they covered.

“Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys is about as close to a national anthem for pop music as you can get. Songs like these pushed the limits of the genre and continue to inspire artists, like the Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist NNAMDÏ, decades later. His cover of the 1966 song maintains the funhouse atmosphere while stripping things down — the song’s foundation is built on NNAMDÏ’s acoustic guitar and a flood of vocal harmonies. By any measure, it’s a bold choice to forefront one’s voice on a staple like “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” but NNAMDÏ doesn’t miss a note.

Listen to the song below and buy the full album on Bandcamp. Scroll down to read NNAMDÏ on the original song and his cover.

What’s your first memory of this song?

I heard the song in passing probably many times but never really paid any attention to it until I watched the movie 50 First Dates in 2004. There’s a scene where Adam Sandler is driving a boat by himself crying his eyes out while singing this song and that made me pause and pay attention to the lyrics. I always thought it was just a happy-go-lucky song but it’s got this air of sadness and longing. I said to myself, “Let me dig a little deeper into this band’s arrangements.” Lmao, thank you, Adam Sandler.

Why did you decide to record it as your cover?

This song is a love song at the core and Brian Wilson’s lyrics invite us in to imagine a different/better world, which felt fitting for the compilation. Musically, It emanates hope and positivity.

What does this song and band mean to you personally?

The Beach Boys always puts me in a better mood. I became a bit obsessed with the vocal harmonies for a few months. They can make the most gut-wrenching, melancholy lyrics feel peaceful and often fun, which is quite a feat.

What’s another song you’d love to cover and why?

Another song I’d love to cover is “Pusherman” by Curtis Mayfield. That’s one of my favorite songs and I’ve just always wanted to make a fun, slightly different arrangement of it