When A Character is Born of the Fruit of Bubblegum Pop

All it took was one song from my music library and there he was, big, very fair, naked, standing in the shower shaving–and singing The Partridge Family’s I Woke Up in Love This Morning.

I saw him so clearly. Everything I needed to know about William Murphy was contained in two minutes and 38 seconds of a well-crafted but manufactured sugar-sweet bit of Bubblegum pop genius.

That moment doesn’t explain William’s albinism except that’s how I saw him and his very essence came down to a love of expensive suits and hook-driven, upbeat, teenybopper tunes from the 60s and 70s. And I knew I had to set him against the backdrop of a romance. That romance is Next to You and it comes out in July.

You might ask ‘What is Bubblegum pop, Sandra?’ or say, ‘Wait, I thought you said you were all about Powerpop, Sandra.

To answer the latter:  I am all about Powerpop, which isn’t as sweet (or saccharine) as Bubblegum pop, but William Murphy is all about Bubblegum pop.

Yeah, okay, great. But what is Bubblegum pop?William Murphy never sees It coming

Prepare for a music history lesson:

Intrinsically catchy, sunny, and targeted at a preteen audience –rather than middle aged men–Bubblegum Pop was simple and melodic, the music and lightweight lyrics often about happiness, love, and candy. With repetitive hooks, simple harmonies and simple chords, Bubblegum was often manufactured, created by record producers who hired session musicians—like Andy Kim and Ron Dante, to play and sing the songs.

Often considered to be contrived and production-driven, Bubblegum groups were often given fake names to present the illusion that they were a ‘real band’—The Partridge Family and the Archies, for example. Some groups like The Monkees were real musicians brought together by producers, but played as real band. Occasionally a single artist would provide vocals for several groups, such as Ron Dante’s lead vocals for The Archies (some of you might remember The Archies cartoon) and The Cuff Links. Other artists like David Cassidy (who went on to later solo fame) and Shirley Jones appeared on The Partridge Family television series, and provided vocals for the eponymous musical act, while supported by session musicians.

Most Bubblegum bands were one-hit wonders, however, Bubblegum has a left long legacy of songs reflect the upbeat, catchy simplicity of the music and memorable titles such as Sugar Sugar, Yummy Yummy Yummy, Hanky Panky, Dizzy, Mony Mony, I Think I love You, and memorable acts like The Ohio Express, Tommy James and the Shondells, The Partridge Family, The Monkees, The Osmonds, The Jackson 5, The Bay City Rollers, The Sweet and so many more.

William is simple, upbeat, sweet — naturally I have a playlist for Next to You–and it’s full of William Murphy’s beloved Bubblegum pop tunes.

I bet you’re dying to know what’s on it.

By the way, THIS is Ron Dante, who gave a marvellous voice to cartoon Archie Andrews’s lead vocals. And what a totally bitchin’ sunny and catchy song it is. I bet you’ll hum it all day.

The Next Big Thing: Powerpop New Wave Romance!

Previously on Oldbitey we’ve discussed the soundtrack, how songs influence and inspire this here romance writer (and many others). The two of you have read about my love for 70s Have a Nice Day bubblegum pop. You know all about my Andy Williams appreciation and my deep abiding love (and stalking) of Glenn Tilbrook. You had to listen to me blither on about my love of Squeeze and rock & roll fantasy come true (the evening I finally got to SING with Glenn Tilbrook, for those of you just discovering Oldbitey).

And now you get to learn about this.

Listening to music, making soundtracks to the novels I write, as well as conducting research for my PhD has led me to a revelation of sorts. J.R. Ward has her paranormal romance. Anna Campbell does Regency Noir. Suzanne Brockmann kicks romantic suspense ass. 

I have Powerpop and New Wave. 

Powerpop? New Wave?  As in the musical Powepop and New Wave genre?  As in Powerpop and New Wave romance Yes indeedy-doo. That’s what I mean exactly.

John Dougan described the genre’s origins: The musical sourcepoint for nearly all power-pop is The Beatles. Virtually all stylistic appropriations begin with them: distinctive harmony singing, strong melodic lines, unforgettable guitar riffs, lyrics about boys and girls in love; they created the model that other power-poppers copied for the next couple of decades. Other profound influences include The Who, The Kinks, and The Move (a precursor to ELO,) bands whose aggressive melodies and loud distorted guitars put the "power" in power-pop.

British bands labelled as power pop include The Jam,The Boys, Squeeze, The Buzzcocks, The ‘Think I’m Turnin’ Japanese’ Vapors, and The Chords.

Powerpop started before punk, at the very beginning of the 70s. It became associated with New Wave at the end of the decade because of the way the brief catchy songs fit into the mood of the Powerpop genre. Think Blondie, The Cars and The Romantics (wink-wink), The Records, and Cheap Trick (who opened for Squeeze!). They were all New Wave artists. Squeeze gets the distinction of being Powerpop AND New Wave.

Hey! Did you catch all that? ! It’s so applicable to OB. Squeeze is Powerpop New Wave, and is not Squeeze all about Oldbitey? 

Let’s look at the above description I stole from wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_pop) and focus on a few things. harmony singing, strong melodic lines, unforgettable guitar riffs, lyrics about boys and girls in love.

Did y’all catch that? Boys and girls in LOVE.

I’m like Squeeze! I’m like The Who! I’m like the Cars!  Powerpop New Wave romance.  It’s romantic without the frilly Partridge family shirt and velvet vest. It’s bubblegum without the teenage acne. It’s clever romantic comedy without the cliches. And it’s the kind of romance I write.