Bubblegum pop

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Bubblegum pop (also known as bubblegum music or simply bubblegum) is a genre of pop music with an upbeat sound contrived and marketed to appeal to pre-teens and teenagers, which may be produced in an assembly-line process, driven by producers and often using unknown singers. Bubblegum's classic period ran from 1967 to 1972. [1] A second wave of bubblegum began two years later and ran until 1977 when disco took over.

Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form in the United States and United Kingdom during the mid-1950s. The terms "popular music" and "pop music" are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many diverse styles. "Pop" and "rock" were roughly synonymous terms until the late 1960s, when they became increasingly differentiated from each other.

Disco music genre

Disco is a music genre and subculture that emerged in the 1970s from the United States' urban nightlife scene. The music, the fashion, many song lyrics and other cultural phenomena associated with disco were focused on having a good time on the dance floor of a discotheque to the loud sounds of records being played by a DJ, usually enhanced by coloured lighting effects.


The genre was predominantly a singles phenomenon rather than an album-oriented one. Acts were typically manufactured in the studio using session musicians, and most bubblegum pop groups were one-hit wonders. [2] Among the best-known acts of bubblegum's golden era are 1910 Fruitgum Company, the Lemon Pipers, the Ohio Express and the Archies, an animated group which had the most successful bubblegum song with "Sugar, Sugar", Billboard Magazine's No. 1 single for 1969. Singer Tommy Roe, arguably, had the most bubblegum hits of any artist during this period, notably 1969's "Dizzy".

Single (music) type of music release usually containing one or two tracks

In the music industry, a single is a type of release, typically a song recording of fewer tracks than an LP record or an album. This can be released for sale to the public in a variety of different formats. In most cases, a single is a song that is released separately from an album, although it usually also appears on an album. Typically, these are the songs from albums that are released separately for promotional uses such as digital download or commercial radio airplay and are expected to be the most popular. In other cases a recording released as a single may not appear on an album.

A one-hit wonder is any entity that achieves mainstream popularity, often for only one piece of work, and becomes known among the general public solely for that momentary success. The term is most commonly used in regard to music performers with only one top-20 hit single that overshadows their other work. Sometimes, artists dubbed "one-hit wonders" in a particular country have had great success in other countries. Music artists with subsequent popular albums and hit listings are typically not considered a one-hit wonder. One-hit wonders usually see their popularity decreasing after their hit listing and most often don't return to hit listings with other songs or albums.

1910 Fruitgum Company band

The 1910 Fruitgum Company is an American bubblegum pop band of the 1960s. The group's Billboard Hot 100 hits were "Simon Says", "May I Take A Giant Step", "1, 2, 3, Red Light", "Goody Goody Gumdrops", "Indian Giver", "Special Delivery", and "The Train".


The chief characteristics of the genre are that it is pop music contrived and marketed to appeal to pre-teens and teenagers, is produced in an assembly-line process, is driven by producers, often uses unknown singers, and has an upbeat sound. [1] The songs typically have singalong choruses, seemingly childlike themes and a contrived innocence, occasionally combined with an undercurrent of sexual double entendre. [3] Bubblegum songs are also defined as having a catchy melody, simple chords, simple harmonies, dancy (but not necessarily danceable) beats, repetitive riffs or "hooks" and a vocally-multiplied refrain. The song lyrics often feature themes of romantic love and personal happiness, with references to sunshine, platonic love, toys, colors, nonsense words, etc. They are also notable for their frequent reference to sugary food, including sugar, honey, butterscotch, jelly and marmalade. Cross-marketing with cereal and bubblegum manufacturers also strengthened the link between bubblegum songs and confectionery. Cardboard records by the Archies, the Banana Splits, the Jackson 5, the Monkees, Bobby Sherman, Josie and the Pussycats, H.R. Pufnstuf and other acts were included on the backs of cereal boxes in the late 1960s and early 1970s, while acts including The Brady Bunch had their own brands of chewing gum as a result of licensing deals with TV networks and record companies. [1]

Double entendre

A double entendre is a figure of speech or a particular way of wording that is devised to be understood in two ways, having a double meaning. Typically one of the meanings is obvious, given the context, whereas the other may require more thought. The innuendo may convey a message that would be socially awkward, sexually suggestive, or offensive to state directly.

Melody linear succession of musical tones in the foreground of a work of music

A melody, also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single entity. In its most literal sense, a melody is a combination of pitch and rhythm, while more figuratively, the term can include successions of other musical elements such as tonal color. It may be considered the foreground to the background accompaniment. A line or part need not be a foreground melody.

Chord (music) harmonic set of three or more notes

A chord, in music, is any harmonic set of pitches consisting of three or more notes that are heard as if sounding simultaneously. For many practical and theoretical purposes, arpeggios and broken chords, or sequences of chord tones, may also be considered as chords.


Producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffry Katz have claimed credit for coining the term bubblegum pop, saying that when they discussed their target audience, they decided it was "teenagers, the young kids. And at the time we used to be chewing bubblegum, and my partner and I used to look at it and laugh and say, 'Ah, this is like bubblegum music'." The term was seized upon by Buddah Records label executive Neil Bogart. Music writer and bubblegum historian Bill Pitzonka confirmed the claim, telling Goldmine magazine: "That's when bubblegum crystallized into an actual camp. Kasenetz and Katz really crystallized it when they came up with the term themselves and that nice little analogy. And Neil Bogart, being the marketing person he was, just crammed it down the throats of people. That's really the point at which bubblegum took off." [3]

Jerry Kasenetz is an American bubblegum pop producer who worked with Jeffry Katz, the two working together as the Super K Productions company, to manufacture and produce bands such as Shadows of Knight, Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus, The Music Explosion, 1910 Fruitgum Company, Crazy Elephant, and The Ohio Express. Kasenetz and Katz met at the University of Arizona in the early sixties. Both came from observant Jewish families. One of their first projects in the music business was as concert promoters bringing the British band the Dave Clark Five to the University of Arizona. Leaving the University of Arizona before their senior year they moved back to New York and opened a small office on Broadway in Manhattan. Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz created the concept of bubblegum music. Neil Bogart of Buddah Records asked the duo to come up with a marketing name for their music. Between 1967 to 1969 some of their bubblegum music releases are "Beg, Borrow and Steal," "1,2,3, Red Light," "Goody, Goody Gumdrops," "Indian Giver", "Down at Lulu's," "Chewy,Chewy," "Mercy," "Simon Says," "Special Delivery," "Yummy Yummy Yummy" and "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin." In 1966 their first production was with Christine Cooper "S.O.S. Heart In Distress." In 1966 Kasenetz and Katz had also begun working with an Ohio band, The Music Explosion who recorded " Little Bit O' Soul." Kasenetz got in his car and drove across the country promoting the song to radio stations. In July 1967, the song reached No. 2 on the charts, selling a million copies. This solidified Kasenetz and Katz as music industry players. In Spring, 1975, Kasenetz and Katz formed their own label, Magna Glide, and recorded artists at K&K Studio City in Great Neck, N.Y. In 1977 Kasenetz and Katz achieved another top twenty hit "Black Betty" by the group Ram Jam.

Jeffry Katz is an American music producer, one of the first exponents of bubblegum pop.

Buddah Records record label

Buddah Records was an American record label founded in 1967 in New York City. The label was born out of Kama Sutra Records, an MGM Records-distributed label, which remained a key imprint following Buddah's founding. Buddah handled a variety of music genres, including bubblegum pop, folk-rock (Melanie), experimental music, and soul.


The birth of bubblegum is generally dated from the success of The Lemon Pipers' psychedelic bubblegum hit "Green Tambourine" (1967), 1910 Fruitgum Company's "Simon Says" (1968) and The Ohio Express' "Yummy Yummy Yummy" (1968), but music critics have identified novelty songs including The Dixie Cups' "Iko Iko" (1965), Patti Page's "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?" (1953) and the hits of Annette Funicello as possible precursors. [3]

The Lemon Pipers were a 1960s psychedelic pop band from Oxford, Ohio, known chiefly for their song "Green Tambourine", which reached No. 1 in the United States in 1968. The song has been credited as being the first bubblegum pop chart-topper.

Green Tambourine single by The Lemon Pipers

"Green Tambourine" is a song about busking, written and composed by Paul Leka and Shelley Pinz. It was the biggest hit by the 1960s Ohio-based rock group The Lemon Pipers, as well as the title track of their debut album, Green Tambourine. The song was one of the first bubblegum pop chart-toppers and became a gold record.

"Simon Says" is a bubblegum pop song written by Elliot Chiprut and originally recorded, in 1967, by the 1910 Fruitgum Company, becoming their most successful chart hit.

A breeding ground for the genre has also been found in the field of 1960s garage rock, the songs of which shared an overriding simplicity with bubblegum. Garage and bubblegum groups were also both generally singles acts. Several garage punk bands, including Shadows of Knight, later recorded bubblegum tracks, while Ohio Express, one of the major 1960s bubblegum bands, began their recording career with punk-rooted tunes. [3]

Garage rock is a raw and energetic style of rock and roll that flourished in the mid-1960s, most notably in the United States and Canada, and has experienced various revivals since then. The style is characterized by basic chord structures played on electric guitars and other instruments, sometimes distorted through a fuzzbox, as well as often unsophisticated and occasionally aggressive lyrics and delivery. Its name derives from the perception that groups were often made up of young amateurs who rehearsed in the family garage, although many were professional.

Between those two camps emerged Florida group The Royal Guardsmen, who scored a US No. 2 hit in 1966 with their novelty hit "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron", and The Fifth Estate, whose 1967 song "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" reached No. 11 in the US. [3]

Tommy James and the Shondells are also seen as a major influence, with such songs as 1964's "Hanky Panky", 1966's "It's Only Love", and 1967's "I Think We're Alone Now" and "Gettin' Together", as is Tommy Roe with his 1966 Hit, "Sweet Pea", but critics are divided on one possible major bubblegum band prototype: The Monkees. Although the band began as a prefabricated, fictional rock group concocted to sell records and TV advertising time, the band later wrested creative control from their creators. [3]

1960s and 1970s

The success of the Lemon Pipers' "Green Tambourine" (US No. 1, February 1968, produced by Paul Leka) was followed by a wave of bubblegum delivered by the Super K Productions team of Kasenetz and Katz, who had scored their first hits in 1967 with the Music Explosion's "Little Bit O' Soul" (No. 2, May) and The Ohio Express's "Beg, Borrow and Steal" (No. 29, October).

Joey Levine in concert, May 17, 2008 Joey Levine Caravan XV 3684f.jpg
Joey Levine in concert, May 17, 2008

In early 1968, the pair signed New Jersey band Jekyll and the Hydes, changed the band's name to 1910 Fruitgum Company, and released two singles that made the Billboard Hot 100 – "Simon Says" (No. 4, February 1968) and "May I Take a Giant Step (Into Your Heart)" (No. 63). In May 1968, The Ohio Express (who had also undergone an enforced name change under the Super K team's tutelage, from Sir Timothy and the Royals) also scored a No. 4 hit with "Yummy Yummy Yummy".

The latter, written by early twentysomething Joey Levine and accomplished songwriter Artie Resnick, was intended as a demo for Ohio Express to emulate, featuring vocals by non-band member Levine and backing by session musicians. The song was released as an Ohio Express single without Levine's knowledge. Two follow-ups, "Down at Lulu's" (No. 33, August 1968) and "Chewy Chewy" (No. 15, October 1968), also charted – both featuring vocals by Levine (who had never met the band), and neither featuring any members of Ohio Express. The real Ohio Express toured, supporting The Who and Herman's Hermits, with bassist Dean Kastran performing the vocals for the hits, emulating Levine's nasal-punk singing style. [1]

Kasenetz and Katz developed a strong relationship with Buddah Records, releasing a series of hits by 1910 Fruitgum Company, Ohio Express and one-offs such as "Quick Joey Small" by The Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus, a Levine-fronted group of studio players. Kasenetz and Katz also scored on Bell Records in early 1969 with "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" by another manufactured band, Crazy Elephant.

The dominance of the Kasenetz–Katz team was challenged in 1969 by music publisher Don Kirshner and "Hanky Panky"'s co-author, Brill Building writer/producer Jeff Barry. In early 1967, after almost a year of success directing the music team behind made-for-TV pop band The Monkees, the band rebelled against Kirshner's strict creative controls and after an acrimonious confrontation, involving lawyers and physical violence, wrested control of their career from Kirshner.

A battered and resentful Kirshner envisioned a manufactured group over which he could have permanent and total control: Filmation's cartoon band The Archies, based on the Archie Comics characters. He enlisted Barry and Andy Kim as songwriters, session musicians including Hugh McCracken, Gary Chester, Chuck Rainey, Sal DiTroia, and Ron Frangipane to provide the music and Ron Dante and Toni Wine as vocalists [4] . [5] Dante, also of the Cuff Links, with whom he scored a No. 9 bubblegum hit, "Tracy", during the same period, would go on later to produce hits for Barry Manilow in the early 1970s. The fictional band's "Sugar Sugar" (a song Kirshner may have earlier offered to the Monkees, though the claim is disputed) [6] was the best-selling single of 1969, and the band would score five other Hot 100 singles, including "Bang-Shang-A-Lang", "Jingle Jangle", and "Who's Your Baby?"

Other cartoon bands appeared during 1968–72 in response to the Archies' success. Cartoon producers Hanna-Barbera created The Banana Splits, which made its debut one week before The Archie Show in September 1968, for a Saturday morning cartoon show featuring costumed actors miming to pre-recorded tracks à la the early Monkees. Hanna-Barbera's Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! was originally developed as cartoon band show, but even after that idea was dropped, the second season in 1970 included seven episodes that each used a different bubblegum song for extended chase scenes with each performed by Austin Roberts. [7] Hanna-Barbera's Josie and the Pussycats became the studio's new cartoon band show.

Other animated acts featuring bubblegum music included Filmation's The Hardy Boys , and Groovie Goolies , Sugar Bears, and (in the UK) The Wombles . The all-simian bubblegum band Evolution Revolution appeared on ABC-TV's Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp from 1970 to 1972 featuring vocals by Steve Hoffman, and studio musicians from The Wrecking Crew providing backup on their sole LP release.

Sesame Workshop, then called Children's Television Workshop, also jumped on the bubblegum bandwagon, first with a muppet group called "Little Jerry and the Monotones" on Sesame Street in its second season, and then with a juvenile group called "The Short Circus" from its new series, The Electric Company , who would also double as kid cast members in various sketches in the show.

The initial era of bubblegum carried on into the early 1970s, with hits from The Cowsills, The Partridge Family (a made-for-TV group inspired by the real-life Cowsills, starring Shirley Jones and featuring David Cassidy), The Jackson 5, The Osmonds, The DeFranco Family featuring Tony DeFranco and others. Many British acts of the first glam rock era (approximately 1971–75) also incorporated bubblegum influences, [3] including Gary Glitter, Alvin Stardust, T. Rex and such Nicky Chinn/Mike Chapman-produced acts as Sweet, Mud, and American expatriate Suzi Quatro. These acts had great success in the UK, Asia, Europe and Australia, charting many singles. They were less successful in the US, however. One English bubblegum-pop singer who did achieve transcontinental success was session singer Tony Burrows, but never under his own name: every hit on which Burrows sang lead was credited to a different group (among them White Plains, Edison Lighthouse, The First Class, and The Brotherhood of Man, as well as his novelty recording "Gimme Dat Ding" with The Pipkins).

Bubblegum had a resurgence, however, and maintained a minor presence on the US charts in the mid-to-late 1970s, particularly through Shaun Cassidy (David's half-brother) and Leif Garrett, both of whom also maintained television acting careers. The last big act of the 1970s featuring obvious bubblegum elements was the Scottish band the Bay City Rollers, who charted from 1975 through 1978.

See also

Related Research Articles

The Archies fictional music group

The Archies is an American fictional garage band founded by Archie Andrews, Reggie Mantle, Jughead Jones, Veronica Lodge, and Betty Cooper, a group of adolescent characters of the Archie universe, in the context of the animated TV series, The Archie Show. The group is also known for their real world success, through a virtual band.

Joey Levine American singer, songwriter and record producer

Joey Levine is an American singer, songwriter and record producer of pop music, who has been active since 1966.

Super K Productions was a 1960s American recording production company under Buddah Records, headed by producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffry Katz, whose groups specialized in bubblegum pop. Their biggest successes were The Ohio Express, The 1910 Fruitgum Company, Crazy Elephant and The Music Explosion. Super K also had its own label of the same name in 1969, operated under Buddah Records, but it did not last as the bubblegum genre had already started to decline in popularity.

Ohio Express band that plays bubblegum pop

The Ohio Express is an American bubblegum pop band, formed in Mansfield, Ohio in 1967.

Don Kirshner American songwriter, publisher, music producer, manager

Donald Clark Kirshner, known as The Man With the Golden Ear, was an American music publisher, rock music producer, talent manager, and songwriter. He was best known for managing songwriting talent as well as successful pop groups, such as the Monkees, Kansas, and the Archies.

Sugar, Sugar single

"Sugar, Sugar" is a song written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim. It was originally recorded by the virtual band the Archies. This version reached number one in the US on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1969 and remained there for four weeks. It was also number one on the UK Singles chart in that same year for eight weeks. The song became a hit again in 1970 when rhythm and blues and soul singer Wilson Pickett took it back onto the charts.

Yummy Yummy Yummy single

"Yummy Yummy Yummy" is a song by Arthur Resnick and Joey Levine, first recorded by Ohio Express in 1968. Their version reached No. 4 on the U.S. Pop Singles chart in June and No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart. It has since been covered by many artists. Ohio Express was a studio concoction and none of the "official" members appear on the record. Joey Levine sang lead vocals.

The Music Explosion

The Music Explosion was an American garage rock band from Mansfield, Ohio, discovered and signed by record producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffry Katz. The quintet is best known for their number two hit, "Little Bit O' Soul", that received gold record status by the R.I.A.A.. Written by John Carter and Ken Lewis, who had previously written big hits for The Ivy League and Herman's Hermits, the song was the band's only top 40 hit. This single paved the way for tours with contemporaries like The Left Banke and The Easybeats.

The Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus was a bubblegum "supergroup" created by record producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffry Katz, consisting of various Super K Production groups.

<i>Simon Says</i> (album) 1968 studio album by 1910 Fruitgum Company

Simon Says is the first album by the American bubblegum pop group the 1910 Fruitgum Company on the Buddah Records label. Released in 1968, it included two songs that appeared on the Billboard Hot 100—the most from any of the group's albums—although it was not their highest-charting album. It's been debated whether or not the members of the band actually played on the album since the Ohio Express, another band put together by Super K Productions, actually consisted of two groups: one that produced the records and another that toured and promoted the name. This is countered by original drummer Floyd Marcus, who has stated that all five men listed really were behind the instruments.

The Third Rail was an American pop/rock group made up of studio musicians briefly popular in the 1960s.

Kenneth Benjamin Laguna is an American songwriter and record producer, best known for his work with Joan Jett.

Arthur Resnick is an American songwriter, record producer and musician. His most successful songs as a writer include "Under the Boardwalk", "Good Lovin'", and "Yummy Yummy Yummy".

<i>Shadows of Knight</i> (album) 1969 studio album by The Shadows of Knight

Shadows of Knight is the third studio album by American garage rock band The Shadows of Knight, and was released on Super K Productions, SKS 6002, in 1969. Recording for the album came after lead vocalist Jim Sohns revamped the Shadows of Knight's line-up and signed with Super K. Although Shadows of Knight did not chart and was the last album featuring new material by the group until A Knight to Remember, a single taken from the effort, "Shake", became a moderate national success in the United States.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Cooper, Kim; Smay, David, eds. (2001). Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth: The Dark History of Prepubescent Pop, From the Banana Splits to Britney Spears. Feral House. p. 1. ISBN   0-922915-69-5. Defining bubblegum is a tricky proposition as the term variously describes: 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.
  2. "Explore: Bubblegum". AllMusic . Macrovision Corporation. Archived from the original on 4 November 2010. Retrieved 16 March 2008.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Cafarelli, Carl (April 25, 1997). "An Informal History of Bubblegum Music". Goldmine #437. pp. 16–76.
  4. email from the late Sal DiTroia, identifying himself and Hugh McCracked as guitarists on "Sugar, Sugar"
  5. Liner notes to Absolutely the Best of The Archies (Fuel 2000, 2001.
  6. Cooper, Kim; Smay, David, eds. (2001). Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth: The Dark History of Prepubescent cancer, From the Banana Splits to Britney Spears. Feral House. p. 77. ISBN   0-922915-69-5.
  7. "Scooby-Doo's Snack Tracks: The Ultimate Collection". Discogs.