August 6, 2005

Bubblegum pop.

Heard today on the 60s channel of XM Radio: Tommy Roe's "Sweet Pea."

What it reminded me of: How much I love the purest examples of bubblegum pop music.

Bloggable question that formed soon after: What are the very greatest examples of bubblegum pop?

Obvious problem perceived in answering this question: Where is the line between bubblegum and nonbubblegum?

Solution:
Don't get sidetracked into defining the term. Just try to find the quintessential bubblegum pop song!

41 comments:

PORTSIDER said...
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PORTSIDER said...

I can't speak for the 60's, but bubblegum pop is making a comeback. I'd offer Annie's song (could there be a better title?) "Chewing Gum."

DallasGuy said...

Anything by The Archies

Finn Kristiansen said...

"Mmmmmm Bop" by Hanson

Brendan said...

That stupid "Mickey" song from the 80s. Shudder.

Ann Althouse said...

Finn: I certainly think "Mmmm Bop" is the right answer for the last 25 years.

John Althouse Cohen said...

"Denise" by Randy and the Rainbows.

Ann Althouse said...

John: That's a perfect choice:

Oh, when we walk, it seems like paradise
And when we talk, it always feels so nice


We can derive the definition once we have the great examples. "Denise" has that typical happiness of just being in love.

"Denise" makes me think of the great parody of bubblegum on "Cruising With Ruben and the Jets": "Desiri":

When I'm dancing with Deseri
All the boys are jealous of me
I'm as happy as I can be
Oh, Deseri

Kathy Herrmann said...

Sugar sugar -- The Archies

Kathy Herrmann said...

I Think I Love You -- Partridge family

ABC -- Jackson Five

I Think We're Along Now -- Tommy James

Kathy Herrmann said...

Oops...

I Think We're Alone Now -- Tommy James

Ann Althouse said...

Roaring Tiger: I think you just hit all the ones I had in mind. I was thinking "Sugar, Sugar" as the answer.

Brian O'Connell said...

Sugar, Sugar, yes. But also Yummy, Yummy, Yummy by Ohio Express. (lyrics)

Which is not to say that bubblegum pop has to be about sweets.

Another group, along with the Archies and the Partridge Family that defined the genre: KC and the Sunshine Band.

Chris Gabel said...

Puppy Love - Donny Osmond

Pastor_Jeff said...

All the ones mentioned so far are great.

The Early Pioneer award:
"Lollipop" by The Chordettes

Also, "I Want You Back" - Jackson 5

John McCrarey said...

There was a 60s group called the 1910 Fruitgum Company. Sorry, I can't remember the names of any of their hits, but they had several. I mention this group because I understand that the term "bubblegum" music was first attributed to their particular form of music. There were very Archies like in style.

John McCrarey said...

Ok, their big hit was "Simon Says". Ouch, it hurts just remembering. Here's some info on the band:
http://www.1910fruitgumcompany.com/

mcg said...

"I Wanna Hold Your Hand."

Ann Althouse said...

John: The Wikipedia article I linked to lists 1910 Fruitgum Company as the source of the term bubblegum. They were never a significant group though.

There were other terms before bubblegum took off. I think I remember something like "pimple music" -- really disparaging! The idea was: things associated with young teens.

So I'd question the "Fruitgum" etymology. I've heard it before and it's been around a long time, but it doesn't seem quite right to me.

Gerry said...

"Yummy Yummy Yummy (I've got Love in my Tummy)"

miklos rosza said...

bubblegum has to sound both somehow fresh and yet instantly familiar in order to "stick" in the manner it's meant to. nowawdays it seems like there's a great deal of mostly female lite soul music (destiny's child) which accomplishes this just as does girl-pop disco-inspired fluff by britney spears and jessica simpson.

the monkees in their day, however despised, were certainly a cut above "yummy yummy yummy" which was so ridiculous (and sung in a ridiculous voice) that it was as irresistable as novelty-numbers like "ahab the arab" or "itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini" from a few years before.

i'll always remember the conversation between lou reed and lester bangs, in which lou was sticking up for david bowie. "he writes good songs," he said.

"anybody can write songs," replied lester bangs. "has he written anything as good as 'woolly bully'"?

XWL said...

What no Monkees? the Davey Jones sung songs like 'Daydream Believer' have to be high on the list (doh!, was editing as Miklos made his comment)

And who in their thirties doesn't find snippets of songs performed by the Brady Bunch kids floating through their head from time to time.

But my vote for the quintessential bubblegum song would be 'Hey, Ya' by Outkast.

My reasons, strong hook (check), repeatable lyrics ('shake it like a polaroid picture'(double check)), high-energy(triple check), and played to death across many radio stations and TV shows.

Flamen Dialis said...

Yeah, but "Cruisin' with Ruben and the Jets" is primarily doo-wop stuff. I'm tellin' ya, Anne, if you know anyone who happens to have that Ruben vinyl LP,have them burn you a disc. The mix that is on all the new copies is unfortunately severely lacking. It wasn't Frank's fault, because the original master tapes were literally falling apart when Frank decided to re-release that LP as part of a box set of reissues back in the 80s. He had to have Chad Wackerman come in and record new drum tracks and I believe Vinnie Coliuta (or Warren Cucurullo, maybe?)record new bass lines. It's really drastically inferior to the original LP mix, in my Zappa Purist's opinion...

Best, Bubblegum song? it's a 3-way tie between "1-2-3 Red Light" by the 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Banana Splits TV Show Theme and "The Rain,the Park and Other Things" by The Cowsills.

chuck b. said...

Check out The Orange Peels.

Roger Sweeny said...

Ah, the Cowsills.

"I love the flower girl.
She was so sweet and kind;
She crept into my mind."

My sister used to sing it:

"I love the flower girl.
She was so sweet and nice,
just like Italian Ice."

Sounds just as good.

Ann Althouse said...

Flamenn: "Yeah, but "Cruisin' with Ruben and the Jets" is primarily doo-wop stuff."

Right, but Deseri is a pure bubblegum song. Another example of Zappa's connection to bubblegum is the use of "Happy Together" on the "Live at the Fillmore East" album.

"I'm tellin' ya, Anne, if you know anyone who happens to have that Ruben vinyl LP,have them burn you a disc. The mix that is on all the new copies is unfortunately severely lacking."

What makes you think I don't have the vinyl? Not sure if I ever bought the CD, but I've had the vinyl in my collection ever since it came out. It's one of my most played albums. For all the comedy, the music is beautifully in love with the styles it parodies.

MrsWhatsit said...

Don't forget "Chewy, Chewy," Ohio Express, 1968:
"Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy Baby
Always got a mouthful of such sweet things to say
Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy Baby
Chewy's full of sugar and I love her that way . . . "

Flamen Dialis said...

>>Right, but Deseri is a pure bubblegum song.<<

I would agree that it's pure bubblegum, as was "Jellyroll Gumdrop" from the same LP - I guess I'm defining bubblegum to be more from the Tommy James/Archies variety. It's nitpicking on my part, really...

>>Another example of Zappa's connection to bubblegum is the use of "Happy Together" on the "Live at the Fillmore East" album.<<

No question - I think Zappa did secretly appreciate bubblegum pop on a certain level, but I suspect the inclusion of "Happy Together" in the live set was due more to the fact that Flo & Eddie (two original members of The Turtle) were in the band at that time.

>>What makes you think I don't have the vinyl?<<

Sorry - unfair assumption on my part. My hat is off to you. You're maybe only the 3rd person I've ever met (outside of established rabid Zappa fanatics) who love that album on its own merits. It's always been one of my favorites as well. I agree with you - it stands alone as a wonderful tribute to the styles it parodies. I think most people, upon hearing it for the first time, would miss the point that it really was a respectful recreation. Zappa loved that doowop stuff to distraction, as did Captain Beefheart and most all of the original members of The Mothers. Zappa did many more doowop covers peppered throughout hi later LPs. One of my alltime favorite Zappa songs is "Love Of My Life," a doo-wop track from the "True Glove" LP. Anyway, if you ever do get a chance to hear the CD version of Rubens, take a listen. Like me, you're probably familiar with every little nuance of the original, and you'll be severely dissapointed to hear that newer listeners will never get the full Rubens experience. Frank's wife Gail and the people at Barfko Swill/UMRK should really look into re-releasing a digital version mastered from a mint vinyl copy of the vinyl LP.

Ann Althouse said...

Flamen: Which came first Zappa appreciating the bubblegum or Flo and Eddie getting into his group? Anyway, the moment when they burst into "Happy Together" is one of the coolest moments ever. The only thing comparable for me is when Patti Smith starts singing "Gloria" (which I heard for the first time in person at a small club before anyone had ever heard of her). Oh, and Patti Smith doing "Hey, Joe" at the height of the Patty Hearst media fest. That was just brilliant. (And I have the vinyl, my best piece of vinyl.)

miklos rosza said...

flo & eddie also added a great deal with their backing vocals to marc bolan in t.rex on "the slider," a classic lp.

Ann Althouse said...

A propos of Mark Bolan and vinyl: I have one of the world's most-played copies of "Unicorn."

Seven Years of College Down the Drain said...

Ohio Express and 1910 Fruitgum Company both came out of the same hit factory in the late 1960s (K-something-or-other and Katz). Out-freaking-standing stuff. And the guy who cited "1-2-3 Red Light" is right. That one nails it, just epitomizes the genre. And is an awesome song, to boot.

Whoever cited the Jackson Five, I see where your coming from, but they weren't an invented act. (I guess "not prefab" would be more accurate. No more invented than any act of self-imagination.) And THAT Michael Jackson was an Elvisian force of nature. GOOD God, y'all.

What I find striking after all this time is how these songs stand up. Given some of the people involved, seeing this stuff as an extension of the great Brill Building sound of the early 1960s isn't far-fetched.

Pancho said...

I saw K.C. and the Sunshine band mentioned in the rundown here.

I would more aptly term KC as Disco Bubblegum. Incidentally I saw them perform here last year and they still sound great and I actually enjoyed them enough to go see them again when they return next month.

miklos rosza said...

a song that you can't find anywhere (because of allen klein, the lawyer who caused the beatles some trouble too) that still holds up is "96 tears" by ? and the mysterians.

i saw iggy pop perform this song while on his 1977 tour w/david bowie on keyboards & backing vox, but he couldn't lay a finger on ?.

Flamen Dialis said...

Miklos,
I've had Allen Klein on my perpetual sh*tlist as well. He's the primary reason my second favorite film of all time - Alejandro Jodorowsky's brilliant "El Topo" - won't see a legit US DVD release anytime soon. That guy's owned the rights forever and he's not about to let anyone release it anytime soon. What's up with this guy? Does he take some perverse pleasure in sitting on properties just to keep them away from the public at large? He owns quite a bit of stuff that could be earning for him via licensing fees, but he doesn't seem to care...

And yer right about 96 Tears. It still holds up well. My two favorite covers of 96 Tears were by The Lyres (who did a killer live version when Jeff was in the mood) and the great Plan 9 (from Rhode Island, I think) who did a version of it when I caught them at a teensy bar in Pittsburgh while dosing on blotter acid!

Oh, and Anne - I officially envy you. Catching the early Patti Smith Group live is incredible - I never did caught her live, so I had to content myself with numerous bootlegs. I had a copy of the original Piss Factory 7" (with Hey Joe) but, like the idjit I am, sold it when I unloaded all my vinyl. I think I got 40 or 50 bucks out of it in 1986 or 87 (and it was minty mint because I had copies of those same mixes on a bootleg disc, so I just played that!) Criminy. There were few live bands that could match Patti's band at that time for sheer excitement. Lenny Kaye is one of my alltime heroes (among many, but he's there). If I could get in a time machine, one of my choices would be to skip back to NY around the late 70s to catch some bands I never got a chance to see live like Television, Dead Boys, The Laughing Dogs (Yes, I'm one of their six worldwide fans), Patti, The Shirts and, most of all, The Dictators! (I know the Dics still play, but I want to see them when they still had Mark "The Animal" Mendoza in the band!)

Ramble, ramble...

Ann Althouse said...

Flamen: I saw Patti Smith pre-Patti Smith Group. In fact, she was booked as a poet and in the middle of a poem she started singing "Gloria." We had gone to see Happy and Artie Traum, a folk duo, and she was the opening act. She had a guitarist (Lenny Kaye) sitting on a chair behind her idly playing while she recited poems. It was quite something. I was actually pissed that there was an opening act, a damned poet, but it turned out to be the coolest thing ever.

And I still have "Hey Joe/Piss Factory." Far from mint though.

Flamen Dialis said...

Anne,
VERY cool! That musta been intense! So, did you catch a lot of other cool spoken word jams at that time? I'm thinkin' around that time Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferburg (from the freshly defunct Fugs) were doin' a lot of public poetry, and Richard Meltzer was ranting at that time? Ginsburg was everywhere you looked... I always like to hear accounts of other folks' show experiences - let's hear it!

Ann Althouse said...

Going out to hear music and finding out the opening act is a poet was something I strongly objected to. If I could have fast-forwarded over it, I would have. So no, I didn't deliberately seek out poets. I did see Allen Ginsberg one time when I was in college. Ironically, he insisted on singing. There's only so much harmonium music I can take.

CGHill said...

Katz' partner was Kasenetz.

"96 Tears" (and its follow-up single, "I Need Somebody") can be found on the Cameo/Parkway box set from Abkco (yes, Allen Klein's label).

Seven Years of College Down the Drain said...

Thanks, CG. I knew that but didn't want to mangle the spelling. Because this is historically imPORtant, d*** it. 8^)

Cadence Gladstone said...

Some new bubblegum pop for yr brains to gaze & dream on- Crystal Coast "Glitter"


soundcloud.com/indi_go/crystal-coast-glitter

you'll mos def thank me when you hear this

(: