In my last Battle of the Bands, I got an interesting comment from Stephen about the song "I’ll Be There" by Emma Bunton, a/k/a Baby Spice:
“Baby” Bunton’s song, however, although polished to a slick, saccharine sheen, actually sounded like something that might have come out of the late ’60s / very early ’70s Bubble Gum Pop era. And, God only knows why, I actually do like some of those rubbery, pink tunes. In fact, Baby Bunton’s outfit on that cover even looks like it came from 1967, and if you told me this song was from “The Summer Of Love”, I might have believed you. It’s almost like The Archies meets The Supremes.
It made me think back to those days in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized I felt the same way, because a lot of the music from those days could be considered "bubblegum." There’s a video on YouTube called "The Golden Age of Bubblegum Music" that talks about the genre (if you want to call it that), which I’ll add here as kind of a bonus video (meaning there’ll be a playlist after this).
In other words, Bubblegum was music aimed at tweens and young teens primarily, much like the magazine Tiger Beat was. A lot of those kids had older siblings and were familiar with the music of the day, and record executives like Don Kirshner wanted to capture a piece of that market. Here are ten songs that could be considered Bubblegum, and some might surprise you. My only regret is that I can’t put all of them in.
- The Lemon Pipers, "Green Tambourine" Considered to be the first Bubblegum hit, it spent 13 weeks at #1 on the Hot 100 and spent three months there. There are some psychedelic elements (the elecric sitar, the echo at the end of each verse, etc.) as well.
- The Royal Guardsmen, "Snoopy vs. The Red Baron" Was not just Bubblegum, it had Snoopy from the Peanuts cartoon, who at the time was sitting in top of his doghouse dressed in an aviator’s helmet, goggles, and scarf. The song rose as high as #2 on the Hot 100, kept out of the top spot by…
- The Monkees, "I’m A Believer Micky, Mike, Peter, and Davy were actors who just happened to be musicians, which made for good video while studio musicians did the actual playing. The Monkees was TV aimed at the younger set, and while they were content to be teen idols at first, they soon realized that hey, they could play and write their own songs. "I’m A Believer" was a worldwide #1 hit, spending seven weeks at #1 on the Hot 100.
- Tommy Roe, "Dizzy" Bill Dahl from Allmusic.com wrote of Roe, "[he was] widely perceived as one of the archetypal bubblegum artists of the late 1960s, but cut some pretty decent rockers along the way, especially early in his career." "Dizzy" was written by Roe and Freddy Weller and reached #1 for four weeks on the Hot 100 in March 1969, as well as the UK Singles chart (for one week) and the Canadian Singles chart.
- Tommy James & The Shondells, "Crimson and Clover" Was kind of surprised that Tommy James & The Shondells was included in the list until I realized that they were quite popular in my grammar school, largely because "Mony, Mony" had been such a hit. This represented a pretty drastic change in their sound, but was still popullar with the young’uns, spending two weeks at #1 on the Hot 100 and being a Top 10 hit in much of the rest of the world.
- The Osmond Brothers, "One Bad Apple" Family bands, such as The Osmond Brothers, The Jackson 5, The Cowsills, and The Partridge Family (another band put together for TV) were popular in the Bubblegum genre. The Osmonds had been performing for some time on The Andy Williams Show, and their popularity centered on the (second to) youngest brother, Donny. This song debuted on the Hot 100 in late 1970 and reached #1 in February 1971, where it stayed for five weeks.
- The Archies, "Sugar Sugar" The Archie comics have been around since my mother was a kid, and in 1968 they moved to television, soon forming a band that featured Archie and Reggie on guitars, Veronica on organ, Jughead on drums, and Betty on tambourine. Jughead’s dog Hot Dog was there because, well, you just have to have a dog in a TV cartoon, right? Of course, they weren’t actually playing (No! Really?): the male voices were voiced by Ron Dante, the female voices were voiced first by Toni Wine, then by Donna Marie, and session musicians (probably The Wrecking Crew) played the instruments. "Sugar Sugar" was a huge hit, selling six million copies and becoming the #1 song for all of 1969.
- Edison Lighthouse, "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" Now we come to the Tony Burrows franchise. Tony was a session singer who was the frontman for Edison Lighthouse, White Plains ("My Baby Loves Lovin’"), The Brotherhood of Man ("United We Stand") and likely other studio bands (i.e. bands made up of session singers and musicians). This song reached #5 in the US, #3 in Canada, and #1 in the UK.
- The Ohio Express, "Chewy Chewy" The Ohio Express had #4 hit with "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" early in 1968; this is the follow-up, which only reached #15 and was their last Top 40 hit.
- Bobby Sherman, "Easy Come, Easy Go" Bobby always seemed to show up on the cover of Tiger Beat in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, and it’s easy to see why: besides being a good singer, he had also appeared in the TV show Here Come The Brides from 1968 to 1970. This reached #9 in the US and #6 in Canada in 1970, a year after Mama Cass Elliott had releasedit on her album Bubblegum, Lemondate, and… Something For Mama.
And that’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for February 10, 2020.