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How a Pretend Cartoon Band Made “Sugar Sugar” the Greatest Promoting Hit Single of 1969


Rock critic Lester Bangs described bubblegum pop as “the essential sound of rock ‘n’ roll – minus the trend, 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 are able to hint a fairly strong path to the Archies. Not that we deserved this band as an inevitability, however the cartoon concoction is considered 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 very faux 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 rapidly 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 had been born in 1966: three People and one Brit sorta-moptops who starred in a sitcom based mostly round their very own hilarious, failed makes an attempt to be pretty much 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 control of searching for out songwriters for the group, together with studio musicians, calling within the band to sing solely when mandatory. 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 skills led to tensions within the band, particularly Michael Nesmith, who had his personal country-leaning pursuits. Upon listening to “Sugar, Sugar” as a doable Monkees tune, Nesmith completely refused. “It’s a chunk of junk,” he informed Kirshner. “I’m not doing it.”

Kirshner returned residence realizing that the tune might be successful. 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 one. (The rights for the Archie characters at the moment had 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 successful. Initially reluctant to play a faux band, pop radio began taking part in the one 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 tune of the 12 months for 1969, a 12 months 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 folks select the latter?

The Archies launched 5 albums in complete, 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 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 tune. Wilson Pickett even lined it, injecting some a lot wanted soul into the proceedings.

The thought of a faux, cartoon pop group has by no means gone away. The truth is, 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.

through Rolling Stone

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The Beatles Saturday Morning Cartoon Present (1965-1969)

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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 may also observe him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his movies right here.




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