Today, May 16, marks the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys’ landmark album Pet Sounds, as well as the RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8 finale. So this is obviously the perfect day for Yahoo Music’s Reality Rocks to exclusively announce that Pet Sounds’ arguably most beloved track, “God Only Knows,” has just been re-recorded by Season 7 Drag Race finalist Ginger Minj – as a duet with Carnie Wilson, with Carnie’s father Brian Wilson’s blessing and input.
“Our version is faithful, but it kicks it up a notch, makes it a little more modern. Our voices sound so good together!” gushes Ginger. “I was very pleased when I heard the rough cuts of it. It’s all of the same instrumentation, but a lot of it has been done with children’s instruments: toy pianos, toy horns. As cheesy as that might seem, the actual sound of the song it crazy, so good – and so inventive in a way that I think Brian Wilson would be proud of.”
(photos courtesy of Ginger Minj)
Ginger has harbored a lifelong love not only for the Beach Boys, but also for Carnie. “I always loved her, idolized her. I followed her journey, up and down with the weight and all of her personal stuff, so it was so crazy to meet her,” says Ginger. “When I was younger, Wilson Phillips’s ‘Hold On’ was one of the biggest hits of the world. At every family get-together, my cousins and I would do ‘Hold On,’ and I always had to be Carnie! I would stand there in my grandmother’s business suit while my cousins would be Chynna and Wendy.”
Carnie and Ginger first met last year at D.C. Pride, when Wilson Phillips and Ginger were on the same bill. “They were supposed to perform right after me. It started to rain, really pour down, so my set got delayed, and instead of letting people go home, I just went out there and performed in the rain and got them to stay,” Ginger recalls. “As I was coming offstage, there’s Carnie Wilson, and she says, ‘Ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod, I love you!’ And I said, ‘Ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod… I’m tired of being mistaken for you!’”
Carnie immediately clicked with Ginger’s wild sense of humor (“She laughed – and she snorted, because she’s a dork!”), and the two later connected via Twitter. “We just started talking about life in general, and then one thing led to another. She heard my single ‘Ooh Lala Lala,’ and said, ‘I want to collaborate. Let’s do something!’”
(Ginger Minj in full drag)
This was the start of a beautiful friendship. “I flew to L.A., and we were just supposed to have dinner. It turned into us finishing a three-hour dinner, going to pick up her kids, then going for frozen yogurt, and then going back to her house and watching Dance Moms while I gave makeovers to her girls. It was amazing. The girls called me Uncle Ginger. And Carnie and I bonded on a very personal level. So we decided to do a song that meant something to both of us… ‘God Only Knows’ is one of the most important songs of my life, and it means so much to Carnie; she has it tattooed all over her body.”
Some might assume that Ginger had to lawyer up in order to get Papa Wilson to greenlight a Drag Race contestant covering one of his most iconic compositions, but as Ginger puts it, “Carnie just called her dad! He said, ‘Sure, go for it.’”
But Brian wasn’t totally hands-off. He doesn’t appear on the song, but “he wanted to make sure that the harmonies were absolutely perfect. Because, you know, he heard those in his head so vividly [when he wrote the song]. It kind of opened up my eyes to what a genius that man is. He made sure that we knew those harmonies inside and out and nailed them perfectly.”
Ginger describes meeting Brian Wilson as some sort of surreal, out-of-body experience. “I couldn’t even tell you what he was like, because I was shaking in my boots so much,” Ginger laughs. “Growing up, I loved him. He meant so much to me throughout every stage of my life. So for him to take the time to care about me getting something correct, I thought that was intense.”
Ginger’s yet-untitled debut album – which will feature production from Jean Morisson & Diego Paul Sánchez (MorissonPoe, Nile Rodgers), who produced and arranged “God Only Knows” – comes out this fall. Ginger describes it as “if you took Jennifer Holliday and Meat Loaf and put them together and they had some sort of weird musical theater baby.” God only knows exactly what that will sound like, but it’ll probably be fantastic.