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Bubblegum pop

Bubblegum pop, (pubblegum rock, bubblegum music) is a genre of popular music and/or rock and roll. As in the famous quote about pornography, it is difficult to define, but most people know it when they see (hear) it.

Some of the defining characteristics of bubblegum songwriting include catchy or hummable melodies, simplistic three-chord structures, repetitive riffs or "hooks," and lyrical subject matter geared toward teenagers at its most mature; or even, at its most simplistic, small children only one step removed from nursery rhymes.

As far as music production goes, bubblegum could not have existed without rock and roll, and the American black musical forms that preceded and accompanied it, such as rhythm and blues and doo-wop. But bubblegum rock also found some part of its roots in pre-rock novelty songs by white performers such as "Abba Dabba Honeymoon" and "The Hut Sut Song," which hit the charts in the late 1940s. Seminal rock and roll numbers, like Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti," with its nonsense rhyming couplets, also placed their stamp on what would come later; the combination of R&B, garage[?] rock, novelty songs and nursery rhymes that later surfaced in the Post-Beatles era in songs like "Wooly Bully," (Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs[?] 1964) with a hard-driving beat and utter nonsense lyrics.

In spite of intense criticism from most critics as being devoid of artistic merit, bubblegum musicians continued to thrive, generally only for brief periods, selling records primarily to young, often pre-teen audiences who were not ready for the incursions of sophisticated art and poetry into the musical form that was being done by people like Bob Dylan and, later in their career, the Beatles.

The first wave of pure bubblegum came with Jerry Kasenetz[?] and Jeff Katz[?], music producers who formed a production company and gave the world "A Little Bit of Soul" by The Music Explosion[?] in 1966. However, this was more on the white R&B garage band tip, and missing the element of nursery rhyme/nonsense lyrics. About a year later they released "Yummy Yummy Yummy" by The Ohio Express[?], a garage band that fronted for studio musicians including singer/songwriter Joey Levine[?]. The song also included a double entendre and the song was a smash hit among a large and varied audience.

Other hits from K & K followed, including "Indian Giver" and "Simon Says," by the 1910 Fruitgum Company[?], and such one-offs as "Quick Joey Small" by The Kasenetz Katz Singing Orchestral Circus (another front for the same batch of studio players). Others joined in the fray, most notably Don Kirshner[?] and Jeff Barry[?] with the Archies, whose "Sugar Sugar" was the best selling single of 1969, and was voiced by the great Ron Dante[?] (né Carmine Granito). Many critics describe the Monkees as bubblegum, others claim that they did not do any pure bubblegum until 1970's Half-Monkees LP "Changes," produced by Jeff Barry.

The first era of bubblegum carried on for a few more years, as LPs were released by the Partridge Family, the Osmonds[?], the Jackson Five, the Brady Bunch, the Banana Splits[?] and Josie & the Pussycats[?]. The last big act of the Seventies that was obviously bubblegum was the Bay City Rollers, who stopped having hits as the decade neared its end.

In the late 1970s, the Ramones began releasing punk records. Though many disagree, the band members actually referred to themselves as a "nouveau bubblegum band with teeth." Their songs were all simple, three-chord riffs with catchy choruses that occasionally made little sense (such as "Gabba Gabba Hey") and appeared on their album covers in cartoon form. The name itself comes from Paul McCartney's alias during the heights of the Beatles popularity, which he used to check into hotels anonymously. Like the Osmonds or the Partridge Family, the band members all used the same last name, "Ramone" -- Joey Ramone took his name from Joey Levine, the performer of "Yummy Yummy Yummy". In spite of the similarities to many bubblegum acts, many critics do not classify the Ramones as a true bubblegum band for several reasons. The band had a longer career than any bubblegum group before or since. The Ramones' music was critically accepted and the group's fans were dissimilar to most bubblegum fans; they were working class adults and disaffected teens that costituted a prime social force of the late 1970s and beyond. Though the band covered "Indian Giver", a massive bubblegum hit, at one point, many critics would still not classify even that song as bubblegum because the purpose of such punk covers (many punk bands cover pop hits) is to deconstruct the original. It is meant to be an irreverent juxtaposition of pop and hardcore not-pop, and thus is no more a bubblegum song than Andy Warhol's infamous Campbell's soup label artwork is an advertisement for the company.

The 1980s saw few bubblegum acts, though there were some, like Teena Marie[?], New Edition[?] and New Kids on the Block. Glam metal was the most popular genre of music at the time, and some of the bands, such as Poison were less serious than most of the major hitmakers. In the early 1990s, bubblegum remained scarce as first grunge music and then gangsta rap dominated the charts.

In the later 1990s, however, bubblegum came back into vogue with the sudden explosion of popularity for British pop group the Spice Girls, followed by a series of boy bands like Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, 98 Degrees[?] and Boyzone[?]. Soon after the boy bands came a series of female bubblegum performers, including Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Mandy Moore[?].



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