Lists

Best Bubblegum Songs of the ‘60s and ‘70s

Bubblegum pop was a genre of music that had a presence on the Billboard charts in the States from the late '60s into the early '70s. Stylistically speaking, bubblegum pop songs consisted of simple guitar chords, singalong choruses, and upbeat lyrics that sometimes had an underlying romantic tone to them.

The largely singles-driven musical movement was lead by a handful of behind-the-scenes industry players, including the production team of Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, and songwriters like Jeff Barry and Andy Kim. The recordings were often tracked by studio musicians in the same assembly-line-like process that labels such as Motown also favored at the time.

Not surprisingly, music critics hated bubblegum pop.

Being the kind of guy who loves hook-driven pop and rock—whether it's Badfinger or Pretty Boy Floyd—I've loved bubblegum pop since the late '70s, when I was a kid and watched the Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday morning repeats on television.

In celebration of all things sweet and gooey (get your mind out of the gutter!), I've put together a list of my favorite Bubblegum Pop Songs of the '60s and '70s. Once you're done checking out my picks, head over to this link to listen to a playlist I created in its honor.

"Simon Says"
1910 Fruitgum Company (1967)

One of the few "real" bands offering up the bubblegum pop sound in the late '60s, 1910 Fruitgum Company scored a few hits during their original 4-year run. "Simon Says" is the best of the lot. Based on the children's game, the song went to #4 on the US Hot 100 chart in early 1968. "Simon Says" was released by Buddah Records, a label overseen at the time by Neil Bogart, the future founder of Casablanca Records (KISS, Donna Summer, Angel).

"Yummy Yummy Yummy"
Ohio Express (1968)

Written by Arthur Resnick and Ohio Express singer Joey Levine, "Yummy Yummy Yummy" reached the #4 spot the US Pop Singles chart in 1968. Backed by a crew of studio musicians, Levine delivers the song's sticky sweet lyrics with so much joy, it's not hard to imagine a permanent smile stamped on his face through his entire vocal recording session.

"Sugar, Sugar"
The Archies (1969)

Featuring Ron Dante (the bubblegum pop movement's most prominent vocalist) and Toni Wine on vocals, "Sugar, Sugar" was the 1969 number-one single of the year. The song was showcased on The Archies' CBS-TV Saturday morning program, undoubtedly helping propel "Sugar, Sugar" to the pop charts. A popular rumor is that the song was first offered up to the Monkees, but Michael Nesmith wouldn't have anything to do with it. There's no accounting for taste.

"You Are the One"
The Sugar Bears (1971)

Keeping in the light spirit of the bubblegum pop fad, the Sugar Bears were based on the advertising cartoon mascot of Post Super Sugar Crisp cereal. In 1971, the suits at Post released an LP of bubblegum pop songs called Presenting the Sugar Bears, featuring Kim Carnes on female vocals and the Eagles' Glen Frey on production. A 3-minute dose of picture-perfect AM radio pop, "You Are the One" is the best track on the album and wouldn't sound out of place on one of those Time Life compilations from the '70s.

"Little Willy"
The Sweet (1972)

The Sweet would go on to write and record some of the best (and most influential) hard rock of the '70s, but "Little Willy" is all bubblegum pop. Co-written by the hit machine of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, the members of The Sweet loathed the song, and didn't even want it being released as a single. In spite of how they felt, "Little Willy" would go on to be the UK group's biggest hit in the US, reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

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