Top 10 Bubblegum Hits

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Our friends at CultureSonar “help grownups find cool music, film, TV, books, events, activities and other worthy things.” The website has allowed us to share its story on the Top 10 bubblegum hits, authored by John Visconti. Enjoy!

Bubblegum Music: songs sprinkled with catchy choruses and lighter than air melodies, backed by exuberant instrumentation and production. It’s a genre that’s often maligned by purists as lightweight and disposable. After all, some of these records were available on the back of cereal boxes (!) during the genre’s heyday in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But many of these tunes are memorable examples of pop songcraft at its best. Bubblegum music made a significant impact on both the charts and the airwaves, despite the fact that many of its key bands (like The Archies) never actually existed outside the studio, where top session musicians, songwriters, and producers created the songs. Other artists (The Monkees, Tommy James & The Shondells, Herman’s Hermits) visited the genre but weren’t permanent residents within its confines.

Here are 10 examples of the chewiest, sunniest pop confections ever committed to vinyl.

10. The Banana Splits–“I Enjoy Being A Boy (In Love with You)”

This slice of psychedelic bubblegum by The Banana Splits truly needs to be heard to be believed, with lyrics like, “I live in a cucumber castle on the bank of a cranberry sea.” The Banana Splits were the costumed hosts of a Saturday morning kids show. The “group” performed songs every week, written by such music luminaries as Al Kooper and Barry White. This one is by Joey Levine, whose legend looms large in the annals of bubblegum.

9. 1910 Fruitgum Company–“Simon Says”

The 1910 Fruitgum Company started out as Jeckell and the Hydes, a New Jersey-based band featuring Frank Jeckell and Mark Gutowski. “Simon Says,” with a lead vocal by Gutowksi, was written by Elliot Chiprut, who also co-produced the track with Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz. The nursery rhyme-based ditty was one of the first (and biggest) bubblegum hits. [The single reached #4 on the Hot 100 in 1968.] The band also scored on the charts with “1,2,3 Red Light” and “Goody Goody Gumdrops.” Do you sense a theme here?

8. Ohio Express–“Yummy Yummy Yummy”

Credited to the Ohio Express, this Kasenetz-Katz project was a renamed version of Joey Levine’s previous group, the Rare Breed. The version of the song released as a single was actually Levine’s vocal demo, which featured backing by studio musicians. (It, too, peaked at #4 on the Hot 100 in 1968.) The Ohio Express also scored hits with “Chewy Chewy,” and “Beg, Borrow and Steal.”

Related: The top radio hits of 1968

7. The Cuff Links–“Tracy”

Ron Dante, who also sang for The Archies, provided all of the vocals on this summery pop confection, which was credited to The Cuff Links. Written by Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance, the song was originally released in 1969 (reaching #9 on the Hot 100), and it was an AM radio staple for many years.

Related: The top radio hits of 1969

6. Crazy Elephant–“Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’”

Crazy Elephant was yet another “group” from Kasentez-Katz, who promoted this band as being a group of Welsh coal miners (please note: they weren’t coal miners at all). It’s a bit more rock-oriented than some of the other tunes in the bubblegum canon. (The single reached #12 on the Hot 100 in 1969.) The Kasenetz-Katz partnership was one of the most prolific production teams during the genre’s heyday, notching a dozen top 40 hits.

See what made the Top 5: click here!

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5 Comments so far

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  1. LatABou
    #1 LatABou 11 April, 2022, 09:53

    Brings back memories. Someone should start singing bubble gum music with today’s lyrics! That would be wild!

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  2. Da Mick
    #2 Da Mick 11 April, 2022, 13:54

    The top five have some real greats in them. But why are you not playing/listing them here? I knew The Sweet would make it as they’re one of the greatest bands never to really make it big in the US. Never really thought of “Gimme, Gimme Good Lovin” as a bubblegum song though.

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    • Greg Brodsky
      Greg Brodsky 11 April, 2022, 18:20

      The website CultureSonar allowed us to share their story with our readers. Protocol is that we only use a portion of their content and encourage our readers to visit their site.

      Reply this comment
  3. steve
    #3 steve 15 April, 2022, 03:20

    How can you talk about bubblegum hits without mentioning Kylie Minogue????

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