Rock critic Lester Bangs described bubblegum pop as “the fundamental sound of rock ‘n’ roll – minus the fashion, 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 strong path to the Archies. Not that we deserved this band as an inevitability, however the cartoon concoction is certainly one of 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 totally pretend band, particularly the forged of Archie Comics, the 5 – 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 rapidly outgrow their harmless picture, King Options turned the 4 into a Saturday Morning cartoon present in 1965 so their Richard Lester-inspired antics may proceed apace. This then led producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider to ask themselves: why use the Beatles when America may 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 in command of looking for out songwriters for the group, together with studio musicians, calling within the band to sing solely when crucial. This led to “Final Prepare to Clarksville” (Boyce and Hart), “Daydream Believer” (John Stewart) and “I’m a Believer” (Diamond), all strong hits. However that dismissiveness of the actors’ personal abilities led to tensions within the band, particularly Michael Nesmith, who had his personal country-leaning pursuits. Upon listening to “Sugar, Sugar” as a attainable Monkees tune, Nesmith completely refused. “It’s a chunk of junk,” he advised Kirshner. “I’m not doing it.”
Kirshner returned house understanding that the tune might be a success. His son Ricky was studying Archie comedian books, and the thought 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 tune, 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 enjoying the only two months after its preliminary launch, from Could to July, and it might go on to spend 22 weeks within the chart, 4 of them at Quantity One. It was Billboard’s Quantity One tune of the yr for 1969, a yr higher identified for the crumbling of the Summer time 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 secure of songwriters corresponding 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).
Not like 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 stored 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 tune. Wilson Pickett even lined it, injecting some a lot wanted soul into the proceedings.
The concept of a pretend, cartoon pop group has by no means gone away. In reality, Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz undertaking (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 among the credit score? Chew on that, why don’t ya.
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Ted Mills is a contract author on the humanities who at the moment hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. It’s also possible to observe him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his movies right here.