Rock critic Lester Bangs described bubblegum pop as “the fundamental sound of rock ‘n’ roll – minus the fad, concern, violence and anomie.” The short-lived style had its roots within the Please Please Me period of the Beatles’ minus the intercourse and the sarcasm. However from the Beatles we will hint a fairly stable path to the Archies. Not that we deserved this band as an inevitability, however the cartoon concoction is one among a thousand variants from that infectious pressure of post-war pop.
The Archie’s lasting legacy is one single: the bonafide earworm, “Sugar Sugar.” Written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim, it was an actual primary single (it knocked the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Girl” off the throne in 1969) sung by a very pretend band, particularly the forged of Archie Comics, the 5 or 6 perpetual youngsters which have been round since 1941.
How we bought there, we should return to the Beatles. As soon as the Fab 4 had began to shortly outgrow their harmless picture, King Options turned the 4 into a Saturday Morning cartoon present in 1965 so their Richard Lester-inspired antics might proceed apace. This then led producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider to ask themselves: why use the Beatles when America might manufacture its personal? The Monkees have been born in 1966: three Individuals and one Brit sorta-moptops who starred in a sitcom based mostly round their very own hilarious, failed makes an attempt to be nearly as good as John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Music Supervisor Don Kirshner got here from a profession on the Brill Constructing, launching the careers of Neil Diamond, Carole King, and Tony Orlando, and on the Monkees, he was accountable for looking for out songwriters for the group, together with studio musicians, calling within the band to sing solely when vital. This led to “Final Practice to Clarksville” (Boyce and Hart), “Daydream Believer” (John Stewart) and “I’m a Believer” (Diamond), all stable hits. However that dismissiveness of the actors’ personal skills led to tensions within the band, particularly Michael Nesmith, who had his personal country-leaning pursuits. Upon listening to “Sugar, Sugar” as a potential Monkees music, Nesmith completely refused. “It’s a chunk of junk,” he informed Kirshner. “I’m not doing it.”
Kirshner returned residence realizing that the music may very well be a success. His son Ricky was studying Archie comedian books, and the concept formed-—why not flip the comedian right into a band, and have them carry out the only. (The rights for the Archie characters at the moment have been very reasonably priced.)
So take a rejected Monkees music, add a little bit of Beatles-style, cheapo animation, and a assured promotion machine (tv) and “Sugar, Sugar” changed into a success. Initially reluctant to play a pretend band, pop radio began taking part in the only two months after its preliminary launch, from Could to July, and it will go on to spend 22 weeks within the chart, 4 of them at Quantity One. It was Billboard’s Quantity One music of the yr for 1969, a yr higher identified for the crumbling of the Summer season of Love. Rape, homicide, it was only a shot away. However so was that “sweet woman” and that “honey, honey” and why wouldn’t individuals select the latter?
The Archies launched 5 albums in whole, solely the primary that includes the comedian characters on the quilt. However all of them continued within the bubble gum vein, written by a small steady of songwriters similar to Ritchie Adams, Jeff Barry, Robert Levine, Gene Allen, and others. Rob Dante sang the lead vocals; Toni Wine sang each Betty and Veronica (the latter had the upper register).
In contrast to the Monkees, who embraced the pop psychedelia within the tradition and put out a grand folly of a film referred to as Head (with Frank Zappa! and Ringo Starr!), the Archies simply saved banging out bubblegum till it changed into sunshine (the identify of their third album) and the fad had handed. Fifty years later, “Sugar, Sugar,” stays a very good pop music. Wilson Pickett even lined it, injecting some a lot wanted soul into the proceedings.
The thought of a pretend, cartoon pop group has by no means gone away. In actual fact, Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz challenge (which has been round for some 20 years now!) confirmed the advantages that may be had when cartoons take over the picture and let the musicians work within the background. Can we give the Archies a few of the credit score? Chew on that, why don’t ya.
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Ted Mills is a contract author on the humanities who presently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can even comply with him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his movies right here.