Monday, January 9, 2012

Bubblegum Pop

Bubblegum: Part 1
Appealing to pre-teens and teenagers, Bubblegum Pop was basically a studio creation of anti-hippie music in 1960s featuring short, catchy, and upbeat jingles. While (some critics say) bubblegum influenced the punk rock genre of the late '70s and is still a label for pop artists today, the classic era of bubblegum peaked from 1967 through 1972. Sharing the same overriding simplicity with garage rock acts of the time, the genre was mostly a 'singles' phenomenon, created on the assumption that teenagers were more likely to afford singles rather than a whole album. If you think you know bubblegum and would rather check out for the next month, please stick around; it may become a secret guilty pleasure.

American pop music singer-songwriter Tommy Roe possibly had the most bubblegum hits during that era. After gaining international fame with the #1 hit "Sheila" in 1962 (his first single), Roe continued to release several Top-10 hits throughout the decade. In 1969, earned his third gold disc award with his transatlantic chart-topper "Dizzy," which reached #1 in the US, UK, and Canada. Released that February, this worldwide hit sold over two million copies by mid-April. Written by Roe with Freddy Weller, "Dizzy" is known for its multiple key changes (eleven total!), giving it a dizzying effect (well, at least, for the musicians playing it). A featured performance on a short-lived TV series called The Music Scene, here's some groovy, bubblegum goodness.

Mainly active from 1967 through 1970, Ohio Express was a manufactured, musical recording unit created by Super K Productions and its head producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffrey Katz (who coined the term 'bubblegum music'). Using several different musicians and acts to release their music (as well as a separate touring group), their best known songs were recorded by studio musicians out of New York. In 1968, this musical "concoction" finally had a breakthrough with the international hit "Yummy Yummy Yummy," reaching #4 in the US, #5 in the UK, #7 in Australia, and #1 in Canada. Two months after its release, it sold over one million copies and was granted a gold disc in June of 1968. However, in later years, the song has become more of a cheesy staple, listed as #8 of the top 10 songs with silly lyrics (in Time Magazine, 2011).

Originating in New Jersey in 1965, Jeckell & the Hydes joined the Super K Production team in '67 and were renamed 1910 Fruitgum Company (apparently guitarist Frank Jeckell came up with the name after finding a candy wrapper in his attic). After their first successful single of "Simon Says," they went on to have a string of bubblegum hits including "1, 2, 3, Red Light" in 1968. Charting the highest in Canada hitting #1, it also reaching #5 in the US, #3 in New Zealand, and #7 in Australia, earning a gold disc in September. The group also toured in the late '60s, opening for major bands like The Beach Boys. The group disbanded by 1969, but their signature bubblegum sound continues to bring back memories for those youngsters of the era.

The first song to be credited as a bubblegum chart-topper was actually by a psychedelic pop band from Ohio, The Lemon Pipers. Joining Buddah Records (the same label as Ohio Express and 1910 Fruitgum Company) in 1967, this rock group changed their sound in order to keep their job with the label, thus releasing "Green Tambourine" at the end of that year and hitting #1 in the US by February 1968. With the worldwide success of this psychedelic bubblegum song (already featured way back during Psychedelic Week), the band felt pressured to by the label stay in the bubblegum genre, dubbing their songs "funny-money music." From their second album in 1968, they released another psychedelic bubblegum single "Jelly Jungle (Of Orange Marmalade)," which only managed #51 on the charts, although it used similar studio effects like "Green Tambourine," including the tape echo (audio delay) applied to the end of the word "marmalade." It's actually pretty cool stuff, but unfortunately, the band left the record label in 1969 and later dissolved. Here's a clip of a promo video featuring the fascinating "Jelly Jungle."

Check back next week for more unwrapping of classic Bubblegum Pop!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Leah,

    While searching for inspiration I found your wonderful blog.
    Looks good ! Thank you very much.

    Please visit my blog and advise me (although the blog is Dutch...).

    PS: where did you find your Labels en Popular Post widget ?

    Kind regards
    Gerrit Krekel
    The Netherlands