Music Monday: Bubblegum Music – Part One…

I’m guessing that my headline has already scared a few people away. Some of you may be thinking – “bubblegum music is bad enough – there’s the possibility that there will be more than one post about it?” But just keep reading…

The 2001 book Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth rules out teen pop or boy bands as inherently bubblegum and defines the term as:

  1. “the classic bubblegum era from 1967-1972”
  2. “disposable pop music”
  3. “pop music contrived and marketed to appeal to pre-teens”
  4. “pop music produced in an assembly-line process, driven by producers and using faceless singers”
  5. “pop music with that intangible, upbeat ‘bubblegum’ sound.”

I was born in 1957, so 1967-1972 was right in the sweet spot when I probably started listening to music, so how could I not be influenced?

The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar” became the best-selling hit of 1969 and inspired a wave of artists to adopt the bubblegum style. The song’s success led to “cartoon rock”, a short-lived trend of Saturday morning cartoon series that heavily featured pop-rock songs in the bubblegum vein.

Is there anybody who doesn’t love the song Sugar Sugar?

But another song is a close second for me as my favorite song by the Archies:

My guess is that this song influenced the creation soon afterward of the cartoon shown Scooby Doo.

Here’ what some people have said about bubblegum music:

The artists were typically singles acts, with songs commonly featuring singalong choruses, seemingly childlike themes, and a contrived innocence, occasionally combined with an undercurrent of sexual double entendre. Comparing bubblegum to power pop, Mojo writer Dawn Eden said: “Power pop aims for your heart and your feet. Bubblegum aims for any part of your body it can get, as long as you buy the damn record.” Music critic Lester Bangs described the style as “the basic sound of rock ‘n’ roll – minus the rage, fear, violence, and anomie”. (new word alert: anomie: lack of the usual social or ethical standards in an individual or group.)

Many musicians who grew up with the genre later incorporated bubblegum influences in their work. Although it is rarely acknowledged by music critics, who typically dismissed the genre, bubblegum’s simple song structures, upbeat tempos, and “catchy” hooks were carried into punk rock. The Ramones were the most prominent of the bubblegum-influenced punk bands, adopting cartoon personas and later covering two bubblegum standards “Little Bit O’Soui” and “Indian Giver”.

Bubblegum really did lay a deeper foundation than anybody’s willing to give it credit for. Yes, it is responsible for Take That and New Kids On The Block, but it’s also responsible for The Ramones. A lot of the melodic metal comes out of that too. Bubblegum was based in melody; it was all about the song. It was all about getting the message across in two and a half minutes. […] And it was the perfect antidote to everything that was going on [in the late 1960s].

So imagine that – a link between bubblegum music and punk rock. I would have put those two genres at the opposite end of any musical spectrum, with no connection between them whatsoever. And it was the perfect music for its time.

So now I feel a bit better about myself and my early childhood musical choices. I was into punk rock before it even became a thing. And who knows, if I was old enough, I may have even made the trip to Woodstock…

So now you probably can’t wait to read Part Two of Bubblegum Music…

source for material: Bubblegum music at Wikipedia

*image from BoingBoing

55 thoughts on “Music Monday: Bubblegum Music – Part One…

  1. Let’s see . . . punks . . . bubblegum. I can now see how the two would link together. But I never made that connection, either. I think bubblegum rock was the kind of rock that religious, uptight parents might let their kids listen to. But not so much punk rock.

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  2. I remember The Archies, especially Sugar Sugar. I think their comic books were around a long time before that. I seem to remember fantasizing about Veronica and Betty. How lame is that? Then I stepped up my game to Ginger and Mary Ann (Gilligan’s Island). 🤣

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    1. Wow – we really think a lot alike. I was going to mention that I always went back and forth on who I liked better – Betty or Veronica. I think I usually picked Betty.

      But on Gilligan’s Island it as clear cut for me – Mary Ann (and as fate would have it, that is my wife’s name!)

      The other show was Charlie’s Angels – my favorite was Kate Jackson…

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      1. Yeah, that’s scary. I’d go with Betty and Mary Ann too. I never watched Charlie’s Angels that much, so I can’t say I had a favorite there. How about the show Eight is Enough? I think Elizabeth, with the long straight hair, is the #1 draft pick. 😎

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  3. Though formulaic and unexceptional in variety, bubblegum music had its place in the early years. These up tempo, feel good songs stuck to a generation and spawned innovation of the sound down the road. I am looking forward to part 2 to see where you go with this. Fun post, Jim!

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  4. An interesting post, Jim. It was definitely uncool to say you liked bubblegum – I was 14 when it started – so I let my younger sister buy the ones I liked 😉

    Looking at that image it seems a little harsh to me to include the Monkees in their list. And it’s the first time I ever knew that the Archies had more than one song!

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    1. I had older sisters who were the ones buying the music I listened to (probably a post in there somewhere). In the Wikipedia article I read, it seemed like there was controversy over whether to include the Monkees… It was probably their TV show more than their music that perhaps got them lumped in with this genre…

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      1. I think you could be right about that post – your sisters’ taste in music and how it defined yours, or didn’t.

        I read the Wikipedia article after reading your post, and I see what you mean about the Monkees. The bands I knew of at the time were the one hit wonders who charted here: Lemon Pipers, Ohio Express and 1910 Fruitgum Company. All together now…🎵yummy yummy yummy🎵…

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  5. Great post! I grew up on bubble-gum 45s and the cartoons. Not exclusively, thankfully, as I had older siblings who introduced me to The Beatles (who had their own cartoon in syndication) and so much more. But the cartoons and then The Monkees, and later The Banana Splits et al – good times!

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  6. Who cares what critics say? People enjoying music is the main point, I think. It seems that other musicians noticed and incorporated parts of bubblegum in their work. Interesting to learn of connections bubblegum had with other genres.

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  7. If these kind of songs are “bubblegum music” then I’m addicted to sugar because I love them as much as I adore deep “smarter” songs. And I can’t care enough what critics say, they don’t own my ears. hahaha 😀

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  8. I’ve been listening to Sugar Sugar all day today and yesterday. 🙂 It popped up on the internet with the little cute cartoon. I didn’t realise “Cartoon Rock” was a genre but I’ve stumbled upon a few of them recently which I will probably write about in the future once I finally get a new laptop. 🙂

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