Poly(A) tails are critical for mRNA stability and translation. However, recent studies have challenged this view, showing that poly(A) tail length and translation efficiency are decoupled in non-embryonic cells. Using TAIL-seq and ribosome profiling, we investigate poly(A) tail dynamics and translational control in the somatic cell cycle. We find dramatic changes in poly(A) tail lengths of cell-cycle regulatory genes like CDK1, TOP2A, and FBXO5, explaining their translational repression in M phase. We also find that poly(A) tail length is coupled to translation when the poly(A) tail is <20 nucleotides. However, as most genes have >20 nucleotide poly(A) tails, their translation is regulated mainly via poly(A) tail length-independent mechanisms during the cell cycle. Specifically, we find that terminal oligopyrimidine (TOP) tract-containing transcripts escape global translational suppression in M phase and are actively translated. Our quantitative and comprehensive data provide a revised view of translational control in the somatic cell cycle.