The Yummy, Gummy And Sugar-Sugary Story Of Bubblegum Pop

By | October 12, 2018

test article image
Left: The sleeve art for the Portuguese release of the Lemon Pipers' 'Green Tambourine.' Right: The Monkees. Source:; IMDB

Who remembers bubblegum pop? Chart hits like the Lemon Pipers' "Green Tambourine," the Music Explosion's "Little Bit O' Soul," and the Archies' "Sugar Sugar" are just a few examples of the bubblegum phenomenon. The music was contrived to appeal to teens and pre-teens by producers, sometimes with little input from the actual bands -- the result was often catchy nonsense, like the Ohio Express's "Yummy Yummy Yummy," and the Archies' "Bang Shang-A-Lang." 

Some bubblegum bands didn't mind the manufactured nature of their careers, while others rebelled. And the most famous bubblegum band rebelled to the point they weren't really bubblegum anymore -- the Monkees, who were put together for a TV show but almost immediately campaigned for, and were granted, more artistic input. It's telling that one big bubblegum band was actually a cartoon, and thus completely controllable by producers. 

Manufactured pop music existed before the late '60s, and still exists today, but the period of 1967-72 saw a distinct surge in the bubblegum pop or bubblegum rock phenomenon.

The Lemon Pipers

test article image

The Lemon Pipers are often held up as the prime example of a bubblegum pop act, but that's most likely because their big hit "Green Tambourine," from 1967, is one of the first recognized bubblegum pop hits. The Lemon Pipers were a band in their own right, though, before they signed with Buddah Records (which would turn out to be a bubblegum factory). "Green Tambourine," which was written for the band, went to #1 in early 1968; thereafter, the Lemonpipers lived a schizophrenic existence, recording somewhat silly singles to satisfy their label, but writing their own more authentic rock tunes and harboring dreams of escaping the bubblegum category. It didn't happen. The group had two more minor bubblegum hits, "Rice Is Nice" and "Jelly Jungle (Of Orange Marmalade)" and released two albums in total, which were a jumble of bubblegum and rock.