An Informal History of Bubblegum Music
by Carl Cafarelli
“When Buddah Records was formed two years ago, most songs were about crime and war and depression. At the time we felt there was a place for a new kind of music that would make people feel happy. So we got together with two talented young producers named Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz who had an idea for music that would make you smile. It was called ‘bubblegum music.'”
The above quote, taken from the liner notes to a circa-l969 sampler LP called Buddah’s 360 Degree Dial-A-Hit, gives us both a succinct statement of intent for the critically reviled ’60s pop music phenomenon called bubblegum and an equally-succinct recap of the genre’s origin.
Although bubblegum has gained a certain cachet of cool in some circles over the past few decades (while remaining a pop pariah in other circles), during its original heyday it was viewed strictly as fodder for juvenile tastes, pure pabulum for pre-teen people. Furthermore, the music was blatantly commercial at a time when such materialistic goals were deemed unacceptable by an emerging counterculture. Bubblegum music held no delusions of grandeur, nor any intent to expand your mind or alter your perceptions. Bubblegum producers only wanted you to fork over the dough and go home to play your new acquisition over and over to your heart’s content (and, no doubt, to your older brother’s consternation).
Bubblegum is absolved of any perceived counter-revolutionary sentiments because it was so damn catchy. Once