Yes, I know… bubblegum music…. hardly what you expected after a post featuring Led Zeppelin.
For the uninitiated, Bubblegum music was a real music genre, just like disco, punk, heavy metal and that cowboy stuff that granddad listens to.
More than a style, however, Bubblegum music really a clever marketing ploy. It was;
- a big part of the musical landscape from 1965 – 1975.
- aimed to appeal to teens and preteens.
- based on the sales of singles, not albums.
- created more its monetary value more than its musical value.
- repetitive and easy to sing along to with simple chords and words.
- usually about romance but often with a double entendre.
- devoid of any musical solos – especially guitar solos!
but here’s the thing
Most bubblegum music was contrived by producers and marketers using session musicians and not real bands. For this reason, many of the songs were destined to become one hit wonders by bands that no one ever saw. e.g. 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Banana Splits, and The Archies. The latter being a cartoon group whose hit Sugar, Sugar, was Billboard Magazine’s #1 single for 1969 and the most successful of all bubblegum songs.
Many of the ‘bands’ spawned huge merchandising empires. Their marketing included Television shows, comic books and a plethora of merchandise. Such bands included The Monkees, Josie and the Pussycats and H.R.Pufnstuf.
how I met tracy
Tracy is the first record I ever bought. Sad but true – but remember, I redeemed myself by buying Whole Lotta Love pretty soon after.
And why did I buy Tracy? Because I liked it, okay! It was fun and soft and sugary, just like all of life was back in 1970.
20c it cost me. I wandered down to Edwards Sounds one Friday night expressly for the reason of buying it. Then I did what we all do when we get a new record – I went home and played it over and over. It must have driven my parents crazy but then, when a guy’s only got one disc what’s he supposed to do. I’ve still got it. That’s a bargain, work it out 20c worth of entertainment spread out over 41 years.
Life is so much simple when you’re a kid. You must have noticed that. No commitments, no responsibility. And bubblegum music reflected that. It was light and breezy. If bubblegum was a season it would be summer for sure.
The other thing to remember is that way back then – in the olden days – bubblegum music wasn’t as “soft-pop” as it seems today. It was middle of the road stuff. It was cool to like this sort of stuff (or is that just wishful thinking?)
And it was so easy to sing along to. In true bubblegum style of the 210 words in the Tracey-lyric, 132 of them are “bah,” as in, bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah (everyone now) bah-bah-bah-bah…. I think you get the idea.
The thing I can’t believe about the Cufflinks is that they actually released a greatest hits album – Tracy was the only song that ever charted with any real success.
some tracy fax
- When Tracy was released there was no such group as The Cufflinks. The voice is provided by Ron Dante a record producer and session musician. He recorded the vocal track 15 times and over-layed it so that it sounded like a full band.
- Ron Dante also sang the lead vocals on the song Sugar Sugar by The Archies – another band that never existed.
- And, one more thing about Ron Dante – he was Barry Manilow’s record producer – man, this guys career just went from one dizzy height to another!
- Unlike most bubblegum ‘bands’ The Cufflinks did put out an album. It took Ron Dante a day and a half to record the entire thing!
- Tracy became so popular (12 weeks in the American Top 40) that a band with real people was formed and, wait for it, it still tours. Although the only remaining original member is the guitarist – kind of weird, if you ask me.
- There is a Tracy by The Cufflinks Facebook page. From the entire world’s population, 15 of us have hit the like button. That makes me one in about 53 million!
- Tracy lyrics.
what we’d all like to know
So, what’s your favourite Bubblegum song? Click the comment button and tell us about it – everyone wants to know!