A subset of manufactured pop music that is aimed at a younger audience (and their parents' wallets). A phenomenon that is as old as the Rock and Roll Age, but the term itself comes from the late 60s, the heyday of Kasanetz and Katz - when rock was the soundtrack of revolution, K&K made rockish pop for the pre-teen siblings of the revolutionaries.

pre-bubble

Numerous 50s teen idols were made and sold. Elvis Presley was one, via the post-Sun emphasis on ballads like "Love Me Tender". When American Bandstand became the late-50s US epicenter of pop, many less-talented idols were manufactured near AB's Philadelphia base (the show later moved to Hollywood): e.g. Fabian, Frankie Avalon (of Beach Party fame), etc. Later, Phil Spector's girl groups were a NYC/L.A. variant.

Kasanetz and Katz

Jerry Kasanetz and Jeff Katz. Mainly with Buddah Records, they came up with an assembly line way to create hits for the young. The 1910 Fruitgum Company ("1, 2, 3 Red Light" was on early Talking Heads set-lists), The Archies, a host of "others" - one pool of musicians; at the craze's height, they went on tour. Don Kirshner tried this approach - earlier and better - with The Monkees and related items.

post-bubble

The Kasanetz/Katz "era" lasted from 1968 to 1969; many have since used their approach. The producers behind The Partridge Family, for instance - the Partridges were a flesh-and-blood Archies, a sitcom tie-in. The Scotti Brothers have worked this for decades, from Leif Garrett to one-hit wonder pin-ups (and Weird Al). Boston's Maurice Starr begat New Edition and New Kids on the Block from one blueprint. Then there were the mallrat queens Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, plus lesser princesses like Martika. Stock Aitken Waterman gave us Kylie Minogue and Rick Astley, et al. Now we have the Backstreet Boys and similar irritants. It ain't going away.

People hate Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, etc. Why? Because (a) it's popular (God forbid!) and (b) it's manufactured.

Manufactured: it was designed to be liked by fans, not the performers.

Good!

Music is to be enjoyed. The more people who like it, the better it is. The music industry is a service industry. They're not supposed to make music for themselves but for the people they're serving: the listeners.

Okay, so the musicians may not have "poured their hearts" into the music, but does that make it worse? If so, why is it so popular?

Yeah, it targets the LCD but many people prefer Britney Spears to any "real" group. Sure, it's good to have stuff not targeting the LCD but that doesn't mean not manufactured, just that different groups are manufactured for different audiences.

Maybe "artistic integrity" is a nice thing to have around, but that doesn't make it better than the rest.

You think Limp Bizkit isn't manufactured? Korn? You're deluding yourself. Hanson, now there's a band that's not manufactured.

re: kareneliot: You're right. My writeup is wrong, but I'll gladly take on the shallowness argument. The canned anarchy/angst/whatever that Rage Against the Machine, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, Eminem, etc., is as shallow as anything BSB or Britney Spears puts out. What do they say that's insightful? Original (idea-wise)? This is music: it's meant to affect people emotionally more so than just intellectually. Intellectual (or meaningful, or whatever "non-shallow" mandates) content is an added bonus, but not the main point, and not totally foreign to what most people consider pop.


Note: This is an old, old writeup, which could be destroyed at any time with no loss to E2.

Bubblegum pop is usually characterised by (often quasi-sexual) references to food or candy, notable examples being The Ohio Express’s “Yummy Yummy Yummy (I Got Love in My Tummy)” and “Chewy, Chewy,” and The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar.” Other childhood themes are common, such as children’s games (e.g. “Simon Says” and “1, 2, 3, Red Light” by The 1910 Fruitgum Company).

Bubblegum is often not really the shallow, synthetic pop most people think of when they hear the name. Many of the groups in the genre would perhaps be better described as “garage rock” or even “punk.” All of these descriptors are mainly ways of differentiating these groups from the progressive direction of most rock music of the time. Both bubblegum and garage rock were musical forms that maintained their adolescence/childishness, frequently to the point of self-parody. The first Kasanetz/Katz-produced group The Music Explosion is a great example of this, with powerful garage tunes such as “Little Black Egg” (with a brilliant punk cover ten years later by fellow Ohioans, The Pagans).

Other examples of more garage-y sounding bands are Captain Groovy and His Bubblegum Army with “Bubblegum March,” their pop take on an acid rock instrumental, and The Shadows of Knight. Some bubblegum ventured into goofy psychedelia, such as The Lemon PipersGreen Tambourine.”

The 1980s saw a resurgence in bubblegum-esque pop from such new wave groups as The Buggles, Blondie, Bow Wow Wow, The Bangles, Cyndi Lauper, and The Go-Go’s.

The main bubblegum label was Buddah Records, which put out albums by The Ohio Express, The 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Lemon Pipers and others.

Performers/Groups often classed as “bubblegum”:

The Boyce and Hart Group
(Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart being the Monkees’ primary songwriters)

The Candy Store Prophets
(Boyce and Hart's backup group, they sometimes recorded as The Monkees, e.g. "Last Train to Clarkesville.")

Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus
(AKA Kasenetz-Katz Flying Super Cirkus)

The Rare Breed

The Music Explosion

Tommy James and The Shondells

The Monkees

The Archies

The Shadows of Knight

Captain Groovy and His Bubblegum Army

The Ohio Express

The 1910 Fruitgum Company

The Lemon Pipers

The Osmonds

Tommy Roe

Bobby Sherman

Tony Defranco and the DeFranco Family

The Cowsills
(a family act that nearly had a television series but were instead replaced by The Partridge Family.)

The Partridge Family

The Royal Guardsmen
(famous for their hit “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron”)


Let me chime in with General Wesc's sentiments: Though bubblegum can certainly, in many cases, be criticised for being shallow, it is silly to differentiate it from other pop music for being too commercial, or indeed for being synthesised. Many more reputable popular performers haven't written their own music, and nearly everyone's sound is more or less influenced by their producers.
Please message me to suggest any additions/corrections to this writeup.

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