25
Sep 06

THE ARCHIES – “Sugar, Sugar”

FT + Popular73 comments • 8,273 views

#279, 25th October 1969

How much sugar are we dealing with, exactly? Here’s an itemisation of the hooks in the last minute of “Sugar, Sugar”:

  • The main hook (“You are my candy girl”) and riff – we’ve been hearing this all through the song, but the sting of repetition gets drawn here by a well-judged key change.
  • The counter-hook from the male backing vox – “Pour your sugar on me!” – more spontaneous and joyful, more passionate, the backing guys throwing a wink or two at the girls behind the sweet lead singer’s back.
  • The female backing hook (“I’m gonna make your life so sweet!”) – this is lovely and I wish we heard more of it. The first time we get it tentative and shy, the second time more confident and delighted. I am guessing the first is ‘Betty’ and the second ‘Veronica’ but I have never knowingly read an Archie comic so I don’t actually know!
  • The “ba-ba-ba-da-da” third backing hook – this one is a real genius bit of popcraft, because you’ve had tiny snippets of it already leading into the chorus after the verses, so you’re primed for it and its injection of swing into the song.
  • The chanted “Honey! Honey! Sugar! Sugar!” that unites all these hooks before the fade – the whole party coming together. At no point is “Sugar, Sugar” a rave up – it’s always pretty sedate – but here it comes closest.

“Sugar Sugar” is magnificently well put together: the loading of all this stuff at the end of the track encouraging you to wind the record players arm right back to check it all again. It’s a bold way to structure the song and shows Jeff Barry and Andy Kim’s absolute confidence in the irresistibility of their main chorus – which is in some ways too irresistible, as I guess it’s all most adults remember and would indeed be dumb if it went nowhere else. (The verses flirt with inanity to an even greater degree, lyrically at least).

“Sugar Sugar”‘s craft is what makes me like it – I’m sure it was momentous to have a cartoon band at #1 but any controversy over the fact seems very distant given the procession of gimmicks, flukes, manufactures and novelties that have enthralled and apalled us since. There are other, more crazed and crude bubblegum records I thrill to more, and there’s a lot of pop I like better, but like a well-made wooden toy “Sugar, Sugar” is something anybody could deeply admire.

8

Comments

  1. 1
    Marcello Carlin on 25 Sep 2006 #

    The first single I ever bought, or at least asked my dad to buy for me (RCA 1872, price 7/6), mostly because they were cartoon characters – make of that what you will, but I was only five at the time – so from my PoV the record is beyond criticism. But of course it’s also Kirshner’s Revenge in that cartoon characters can’t demand UDI and dispense with your services as those pesky Monkees did…but of course it can also serve as a subsequent missing link between Teletubbies and Gorillaz…

    Lead singer Ron Dante (who was also the “frontman” of the Cufflinks) was on “Leader Of The Laundromat” by the Detergents back in ’65 and ended up as Barry Manilow’s arranger/producer.

    I am not entirely sure, and am probably completely wrong, but I distinctly recall one of the “I’m gonna make your life so sweet”s being given to Hot Dog in the rather primitive “video” shown on TOTP…

  2. 2
    jeff w on 25 Sep 2006 #

    Hurrah! This nails the greatness in “Sugar Sugar” really well.

    The only other thing I would have mentioned in terms of its crafting is its proto disco beat – which is (I think) v. unusual for the time; the only other Archies track that swings in quite the same way is “Archies Party”. And most other bubblegum pop was closer to garage rock for kids (McNuggets, if you will).

    Personal reflections to follow.

  3. 3
    Marcello Carlin on 25 Sep 2006 #

    I even persuaded my dad to buy me the album, whose British cover was typically over-literal:

    http://www.vinyltap.co.uk/gallery/ar/archiss4985039822494040.jpg

  4. 4
    markgamon on 25 Sep 2006 #

    Now I KNOW you’re all mad.

    I’m getting depressed just THINKING about how hateful some of these singles were. And remain. It doesn’t matter how cleverly produced it was: Sugar Sugar was the worst kind of mindless, trival, contrived pop pap in 1969, and it still is.

  5. 5

    koganbot has a good bit in his book abt his different reactions to “love in my tummy” at difft ages

    i wd probably have given this a 10 but then i give everything 10

  6. 6
    rosie on 25 Sep 2006 #

    It seemed to be number one for ever – I recall it was enjoyable at first but palled very quickly with blanket radio play for weeks on end.

    Mind you, there was far worse to come as we’ll see!

  7. 7
    jeff w on 25 Sep 2006 #

    “A life on the sugar wave”

    This isn’t the first single I ever bought (I was only 4 at the time), but this is the first ‘modern’ – i.e. post-Beatles – pop single that entered our family home: my sister (7) received it as a present from a relative, Christmas 1969. For my part, I got an EP of marching tunes by the Band of the Grenadier Guards.

    Prior to this point, we only had my parents’ small, dusty collection of 7″s – EPs of highlights from West End musicals, some slushy Malcolm Vaughn records, Frank Ifield’s “Lucky Devil”, Johnny Preston’s “Running Bear” and a Bachelors record – plus a bunch of kids discs, some of it on coloured vinyl (fairy tales and nursery rhymes, Pinky & Perky, a Thunderbirds episode) to play on our boxy, single-speaker 3-speed gramophone with auto-repeat and Stack-O-Matic record-changer.

    So, like Marcello, this record meant a lot to me at an early age. Not that it started a revolution – it was a couple more years before my sister and I got into pop music in any serious way. Between Xmas ’69 and 1972 our pop diet consisted mainly of Ed Stewart’s Junior Choice radio programme on weekend mornings. On which “Sugar Sugar” no doubt featured regularly, though my sister and I were probably listening out for songs like “My Brother” (“Who locked granddad in the loo?” Whoosh! “My brother”).

    Some years later, when I was old enough to be trusted with our new stereo hi-fi, this record got caned – as did the B-side “Melody Hill”*. I was blissfully unaware that the Archies were cartoon characters (I can’t even remember if we had a TV in 1970. I suppose we must have had a small B&W one, but I have no memories of watching anything on it.) So I happily accepted that “Melody Hill” and “Sugar Sugar” were by the same, real-life pop band, even though they sound completely unalike.

    *written by Ritchie Adams & Mark Barkan, rather than Barry & Kim. Possibly the only overlap in personnel on the two sides is Ron Dante?

  8. 8

    as with lily the pink i recall feeling out of the loop — who ARE these people? howcum everyone but me is familiar with them? — which in the former case was bcz ppl (small ppl) were actually talking abt em but in the latter is bcz of the cartoon: i assumed they were characters with a backstory (rightly as it happens but i wasn’t able to access the backstory for decades!) who’d just happened to join a band

    it’s possible my assumption was based on the example of the banana splits

    also i was secretly snobby abt the cartoon bcz i didn’t like its loops of pure repetition

  9. 9
    Doctor Casino on 25 Sep 2006 #

    I even persuaded my dad to buy me the album, whose British cover was typically over-literal:

    OMG, and a direct precursor to the cover for McCartney! This might be the last undiscovered piece of Beatle trivia. Marvelous.

    As for “Sugar Sugar” I’ll have to wait before I get home and can track it down to offer my two cents – I haven’t heard it in years and while I can hear most of it in my head, the “ba ba ba”s aren’t springing to mind. I recall it, though, as being a really obnoxious song – maybe it’s well-crafted, but shouldn’t great pop be well-crafted and have something else to it? Something that connects? Some drama or window of relevance? Even something like “Da Doo Ron Ron,” whose lyrics are about the equal of “Sugar Sugar” in terms of lameness, carries a melodrama, a hugeness, a swelling that befits teenage love. “Sugar Sugar” is for eight-year-olds imagining teenage love and might as well be “Lily The Pink” or this intriguing “My Brother” for its total lack of convincing realism. It’s not just that it’s made by a fake cartoon band, it’s that everything in it feels like a fake cartoon of a real song. A richly animated cartoon that knows how to use all the tricks, perhaps, but ultimately, who cares if the Teletubbies movie is gorgeously shot?

  10. 10
    Doctor Casino on 25 Sep 2006 #

    Ha, I guess I went ahead and offered my two cents anyway! Not sure I catch Pink Lord’s angle here – the Archies were indeed characters with a backstory who’d just happened to join a band. Right?

  11. 11
    Lena on 25 Sep 2006 #

    The Archies comic book isn’t nearly as cool as this song. Ok, maybe Jughead, but still…

  12. 12
    Doctor Casino on 25 Sep 2006 #

    It’s a kid’s fantasy too! Sugar’s delicious, so what could be more fun than having it dumped all over you? This song is stupid!

  13. 13

    yes they were dr casino — so my assumption was actually right — but i didn’t find out it was right for many years, and in fact pretty muich decided at the time i must be wrong bcz there seemed to be no TV programme or comic they were in! so i WAS out of the loop and right to feel so

  14. 14
    Tom on 25 Sep 2006 #

    Rosie it was #1 for 8 weeks – even though I like it I admit this is definitely too long.

    I actually swing around on this one a lot – sometimes it annoys me a bit or just sounds listless in comparison to later manufactured bah humbug pap-more-like.

    And in my gut I agree with Casino that great pop does need something more – but I do like this so what is the ‘something more’ in it? I think the way the record starts up a bit dumb and repetitive and then brings in all these other elements (including girls!) might just stand in quite well for the exciting expansion of your world when you’re going from home-centered childhood to friend/gang centred tweenhood. So if it’s striking a greater chord than “I like this tune/these characters” maybe it’s that.

  15. 15
    wwolfe on 25 Sep 2006 #

    The female lead is sung by Toni Wine, who co-wrote “Groovy Kind of Love” and “Black Pearl,” among others. (According to All Music, she also was “Dawn” alongside Tony Orlando in the studio for “Candida;” after some solo recording, she married Chips Moman. Interesting career trajectory.)

    The rhythm section is Hal Blaine and (I think) Joe Osborne, making the Archies the cartoon brethren of the Byrds, the Raiders, the Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkle, the Grass Roots, and hundreds more.

    This is another huge hit that I have no clear memory of hearing back then. I bought it in my early 30s, after reading Lester Bangs’s essay on bubblegum and deciding to renounce all shame when it came to my bubblegum love. I’m now the proud owner of five Archies albums, among many other bubblegum acts of the period. (I actually prefer “Bang-Shang-a-Lang” to this one, but I like both a lot.)

    My band does a medley of bits from songs using this same 1-4-5 chord progression and rhythm. If I recall all the songs, it goes: Louie Louie/Sugar Sugar/Wild Thing/Farmer John/Downtown/Game of Love/Like a Rolling Stone/Twist and Shout/Hang On Sloopy. The irony we enjoy in the first three songs is that the first and third are supposed to be dirty, but aren’t, and the second is supposed to be innocuous, but might be dirty.

  16. 16
    Chris Brown on 25 Sep 2006 #

    I heard this a lot as a child, which possibly ruined it for me, but I was well into my teens before I realised they were cartoon characters. Even when I finally saw the video, I just associated it with all those old songs that had animated videos made for them in the Eighties.

    Perhaps the kindest thing I can say here is that it’s too effective: it really does sound like the musical equivalent of necking half a pound of sugar. Only a child or drug addict would want to do it, and it’s likely to lead to vomiting.

  17. 17
    GeorgeB on 25 Sep 2006 #

    Don’t see it as mindless, trivial and contrived, altho it obviously came out of a test tube/committee (so to speak). It’s practically perfect in every way and just soooo irresistable.

  18. 18
    intothefireuk on 25 Sep 2006 #

    Well, fortunately I’ve always found it quite resistable. Even as a child it seemed far too seamless. The best bit for me is the electric piano bass sound which features heavily from the very start. In fact it sounds remarkably like the EP bass sound on Kims 70s hit Rock Me Gently. Ron Dante’s vocal is excellent as it was on ‘Tracy’ and I like that just as much. However the repetition of the title and the sheer repetition of the record on the radio at the time was enough to leave me liking not loving it. Like others have said I never knew they were only cartoon charaters until much later – so that was never a factor. Great production for the time though.

  19. 19
    Doctor Mod on 26 Sep 2006 #

    Doctor Casino is right.

    Ergo, TWO Doctors here agree that this much sugar is dangerous to your well-being.

    Overexposure to this song–and I daresay it was overexposed–can put anyone in a diabetic coma.

  20. 20
    Doctor Casino on 26 Sep 2006 #

    But bravo to wwolfe for bringing up “Bang Shang A Lang,” which i do actually like! A “Doo Wah Diddy” rewrite that I like considerably more than “Doo Wah Diddy” – love the slight strain on the backing vocals as they rise to meet the highest “Bang shang a langs.” The ultimate destination point of all three songs is, of course, “Sugar Shack,” which probably beats them all hands down.

  21. 21
    Doctor Casino on 26 Sep 2006 #

    Although I suppose “Bang Shang A Lang” owes considerably more to “Ring-A-Ding-Ding!” now that I think about it. (Now that would be a skewed taking-sides…)

  22. 22
    jeff w on 26 Sep 2006 #

    bah, this is mere proof of a conspiracy by the medical profession to try and keep themselves in business! I’ve been spooning the sugar regularly and haven’t needed to see a doctor in nearly 25 years. Coincidence? I think not.

  23. 23

    you say cavity i say space-time portal

  24. 24
    Steve Mannion on 26 Sep 2006 #

    An ILM thread once asked ‘what is the most pop song ever?’ and this was the first thing i thought of. Although I ended up unsure of this because I think it’s a bit too simplistic to really be held up as something which encapsulates the essence of Pop (as genre) succinctly. Confused and a little tired, I fled the scene.

  25. 25
    alext on 26 Sep 2006 #

    Dr T says: this record is great.

  26. 26
    Matt D’Cruz on 26 Sep 2006 #

    I’ve never really got this record – its always felt a bit forced to be and I can’t put my finger quite on why.

  27. 27
    Tom on 26 Sep 2006 #

    Maybe the ‘writing for cartoons’ thing made them hold back a bit? Certainly much as I like it it doesn’t have the bizarro playground wildness of say “Yummy Yummy Yummy” or “Captain Groovy And His Bubblegum Army”. But then those records didn’t have a brand to protect.

  28. 28
    Steve Mannion on 26 Sep 2006 #

    I’ve danced to this song on a packed dancefloor at Plastic People (trendy basement club in Shoreditch) so that’s a nice memory to go with it having not been around at the time.

    And blimey I failed to realise it stayed at #1 for so long – the longest stay since The Shadows ‘Wonderful Land’ some seven and a half years earlier. How big a deal was this at the time? Perhaps everyone got sick of it and the need for something more ‘wintry’ became more key than usual. Enter the Rolf!

  29. 29
    Tom on 26 Sep 2006 #

    I can pretty much imagine how 8 weeks of this followed by 6 of Rolf must have been the kiss of death as far as serious rock fans and the charts were concerned.

    (Tho I think a large chunk of the serious rock they preferred was pretty awful)

  30. 30

    the essence of incommensurability: a 45-yr-old’s solicitude for a 15-yr-old’s understandable disdain towards a record aimed at who he no longer is vs a 35-yr-old dad-to-be’s solicitude for how the 5-yr-old will hear it?

    this is a guess — as i don’t know how old all we commenters are — but i bet some of the intensity of response-difference really does stem from age-difference, and CAN’T be shuffled away by appeal to the “timeless pop canon” (or whatever the route to ahem aesthetic objectivity is)

  31. 31

    (haha ok the second para is the most boring and obvious point ever made on POPULAR! the interesting bit (?) is the amount that is generalisable in mechanics of the first para maybe: in a way this is just my pet theory the SEVEN AGES OF (GUILTY) POP MAN as per usual, except it also includes the conundrum of how aged x you view yrself aged y viewing yrself at age z)

  32. 32
    Marcello Carlin on 26 Sep 2006 #

    complicated by my never really having progressed beyound the z stage

  33. 33

    true of all of us, except for sharply difft values of z? (i was very disgruntled to be 8! i liked being 7!)

  34. 34
    Marcello Carlin on 26 Sep 2006 #

    dunno, trout mask replica was in the album chart the same time as the archies and rolf, didn’t see any difference at the time and still don’t!

  35. 35
    DavidM on 26 Sep 2006 #

    2

  36. 36
    Alan Connor on 26 Sep 2006 #

    I always held out against reading The Archies, even when internet and so on made it possible. There were references to it, usually scatological / playful / scathing, in American indie comics that I like, but I’d never wanted to have to suck up every piece of Ameridreck necessary to get what might just be a hipster’s take on it.

    As a result, I’d never wholly twigged that the Betty and Veronica who I’d heard described as sexual objects so often were the singers of this pleasing song.

    But of course they were!

    Resurrection watch: Cover versions include Wilson Pickett, Tommy Roe (unsurprisingly), Neil Sedaka, Jimmy Smith, the aforementioned Ventures, Ike & Tina, Tom Jones, Dollar and the Germs.

    Many many films, often in those with dozens and dozens of songs used, including A Very Brady Sequel, Now And Then and Josie & The Pussycats.

    The Simpsons is one of my favourite users of pop songs, like when Bart and Millhouse go crazy on sugar having found $20 in “Boy Scouts ‘N’ The Hood”. It’s also in “Sweet & Sour Marge”, but was oddly left out of the “I Want Candy” / “Lollipop” / “Peppermint Twist” / “Whip It” segue in “The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour”.

    I’m sure it must have been in all manner of adverts, but none spring to mind. Or is the WHOLE SONG AN ADVERT??????

    nb: there was a comment in the recent mountain of words that reminded me why I wanted to do these trails of how songs got re-used and reinterpreted, but I can’t remember what it was. Maybe I’ll find it as I work back.

  37. 37
    Marcello Carlin on 27 Sep 2006 #

    You forgot the Jonathan King “prog” cover, issued under the guise of Sakkarin, Top 20 in ’71.

  38. 38
    Mark Grout on 27 Sep 2006 #

    Jonathan King missed the point?

    I say yes to this one.

    On holiday, Alice found and bought an Archie Comic (Betty, actually). Never saw one before, pretty cool. I was going to get a sub for Alice and Amber, but the postage was rid.

  39. 39

    i’m not sure jonathan king ever missed the point

  40. 40
    Marcello Carlin on 27 Sep 2006 #

    JK was sending up pretentious prog.

  41. 41
    jeff w on 27 Sep 2006 #

    My favourite cover of “Sugar Sugar” is by one of the artists whom Tom will be writing about very soon! It may even be on the B-side of their 1970 #1, but Google won’t confirm this.

  42. 42
    Marcello Carlin on 27 Sep 2006 #

    Neither can I, since purchasing of the record in question was not encouraged where I grew up…

  43. 43
    Doctor Mod on 27 Sep 2006 #

    . . . must have been the kiss of death as far as serious rock fans and the charts were concerned

    For serious fans my age (I was 18 in 1969), it certainly was. We didn’t have Rolf here, but we had more than enough garbage on the chart (some of which made it over to your side of the Atlantic). Over here we had FM radio, and by this time the singles charts weren’t exactly the center of our musical sensibilities. Album-oriented rock had already begun to take center stage, a trend that probably dated back to Sgt Pepper.

  44. 44
    Alan Connor on 27 Sep 2006 #

    You forgot the Jonathan King “prog” cover, issued under the guise of Sakkarin, Top 20 in ‘71.

    Nice one. I saw this on a list of JK tracks (I think in the Late Late Breakfast Show annual), but forgot it – and have indeed never heard it. I kinda wish I’d bought his King Of Pop box set when I saw it reduced in Our Price in the mid-90s. Kinda.

    And the unpopular band were, I presume, the England World Cup Squad – the Pipes & Drums & Military Band of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards not having done any bubblegum that crossed my radar.

  45. 45
    Chris Brown on 27 Sep 2006 #

    I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with being mindless, trivial and contrived – it’s just this song I don’t like.

    As for the childhood thing, well I obviously used to be a child, and by that time this had somehow become part of the list of records that adults thought children would like. If we got to hear pop music at my primary school, we’d get this amongst a limited rotation; the only other one I can recall now is ‘Superman’ by Black Lace.

  46. 46
    henry on 28 Sep 2006 #

    let’s not forget the cover of this song by the wonderful Dave Pell Singers…

  47. 47
    Doctor Mod on 30 Sep 2006 #

    Well, if you don’t hate soul and you want to hear an interesting spin on this one, you might consider the Wilson Pickett cover version.

  48. 48
    blount on 30 Sep 2006 #

    alex chilton did a version in a medley with (i think) ‘sex machine’

  49. 49
    koganbot on 2 Oct 2006 #

    I’m in the middle on this one, probably give it a 6 or 7. To emphasize what maybe Tom and a few others have been edging towards saying: for bubblegum, “Sugar, Sugar” is actually quite TEPID, owing to the vocals, which are unnecessarily pale and don’t do the song justice. Seem more like sugar substitute than actual sugar. But even as a song, I don’t see how “Sugar Sugar” has got nearly the hooks and melody of “Solitary Man” and “Crimson and Clover” and “Na Na Hey Hey” and “I Want You Back,” not to mention “Time of the Season” and “The Boxer” and “Pinball Wizard” and “Volunteers” and “Whole Lotta Love.” So I don’t see this song as particularly emblematic of either bubblegum or pop world 1969. As for the something else that great pop (or even average pop) ought to and usually does have: how about passion and dramatic tension and at least something going on in the lyrics? All the bob sh-bops and a-ding-a-dong dings from the old rock ‘n’ roll era gave singers a slalom run to show off their style and gave kid listeners vocal footwork to aspire to and to annoy adults and other kids with. And as for “the skills of compacting complex observations and emotions into direct and compact form” that’s accessible to a ten-year-old (sir pynk s lord of sukrat on another thread), few have ever done it as well as Jeff Barry & Ellie Greenwich did over and over back in their teenpop heyday: “He used to act bad/He used to but he quit it/It makes me so sad/’Cause I know that he did it/For me.” The relatively light-hearted “I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still/Da doo ron ron ron da doo ron ron/Somebody told me that his name was Bill/Da doo ron ron ron da doo ron ron” sketches a world and a situation with a couple of brush strokes. You met him (on a particular day, a particular time), somebody told you his name – this dreamboat, your heart skips a beat but you don’t even who he is, so there’s a distance to cross (and a song to listen to). And the joyous “Chapel of Love” gives you a dark backdrop in six words – “And we’ll never be lonely anymore”: so the condition of this happy wedding is a base state of loneliness, this joy springing from that sorrow. Same thing happens in teenpop nowadays: “Don’t let nobody tell you your life is over,” sing a couple of frightened home-schooled teenagers named Aly & A.J. exhorting you and themselves to heed the call of the world and not to hide out in fear, the delirious beauty of this song feeding off the terror depicted in their others. Or the kiddie-Oprah-pop in High School Musical – “You know the world can see us in a way that’s different than* who we are” – is what gives these kids something to soar and fly away from. Or a pop lyric can simply be a whammy ball to toss against the world and see what happens: “How come every time you come around/My London London Bridge wanna go down.” Not that every great pop song has to have interesting words, or any words, but they sure help.

    (No doubt somewhere, someplace “Sugar, Sugar” tossed itself against the world in an interesting way, and some of you were there. But I don’t feel my way into this happening when I hear “Sugar, Sugar,” which isn’t nearly as good as the other songs I mention in this post.)

    *I grimace at this “than”; I’m probably just showing my age.

  50. 50
    blount on 2 Oct 2006 #

    “Time of the Season” and “The Boxer” and “Pinball Wizard” and “Volunteers” – i’ll take ‘sugar sugar’ easy over any of these awkward can’t-dance bombast groans! the ‘no dramatic tension’ claim seems laffable too – the whole song’s a downhill snowball til the crest of ‘pour a little sugar on my honey’ with the immediate reprise of the chorus after carrying a marked note of triumph/glee where previously it was just hunger and anticipation.

  51. 51
    Mr. Snrub on 26 Nov 2006 #

    This song is best appreciated when mashed up with The Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting for the Man” on “Velvet Sugar” by Go Hme Productions (the 261st best single of 2006).

  52. 52
    Billy Smart on 18 Nov 2007 #

    Judge Dale’s verdict today: “A worthy chart-topper!”

    Billy says: Quite right, too!

  53. 53
    tim davidge on 8 Mar 2008 #

    “He plays it over and over again!” “Well, that’s what you do, when you hear a tune you like”. I can remember this conversation between one of my siblings and a great aunt a few weeks after having parted up with my eight-and-sixpence (still a year or so to go before decimalization) and bringing home my orange-label RCA copy of ‘Sugar Sugar’. It was my first-ever pop record purchase. It wasn’t so much a “tune” as a series of devices, as many, indeed, have said. The hooks, the strong underlying beat and the overall infectiousness just made me want to buy the thing and play it over and over again. Six million others, many of them probably younger than the average pop record buyer, fell for this one. But there was no ‘phenomenon’ beyond this one record. There was, I can clearly remember, a follow-up in the spring of 1970, but it sank without trace. I can’t even remember what it was called, and the Guinness book just gives the one title under “Archies” and then nothing else. Ever.

    “Sugar Sugar” was something of an exercise in cynicism. Don Kirshner, the man behind the Archies, was going to make sure his puppets wouldn’t up and run the show in the way his former charges the Monkees had done. Hence the cartoon. But a cartoon can’t generate the same kind of following that a ‘real’ pop act can. It can sell millions of records to school-age kids, but only once.

  54. 54
    Marcello Carlin on 8 Mar 2008 #

    Follow-up was “Jingle Jangle” and the one after that was “Who’s Your Baby?” which is fantastic.

  55. 55
    Lena on 8 Mar 2008 #

    “Time of the Season” isn’t bombastic.

  56. 56
    Marcello Carlin on 9 Mar 2008 #

    Unlike the current number one (at time of writing) which, um, borrows its riff…

  57. 57
    mike atkinson on 9 Mar 2008 #

    OK, OK, I’ve finally streamed “Time Of The Season”: and blimey, yes, total steal there from “Fluffy” Duffy…

  58. 58
    Doctor Casino on 4 Jan 2009 #

    Two things I’ll admit are absolutely fantastic in this song:

    1) The long “OOooooOOOooooHH!” that the male lead does maybe twice in the song to lead back to the “pour a little sugar on me” hook. There’s some actual non-cartoon DESIRE in that yell, it’s one of the few times it doesn’t actually sound like Archie Andrews is singing but in fact a real live HUMAN.

    2) The way the bass and piano come THROBBING back in, again just in a couple of places – there’s one around 2:13 or so. Pretty great, huge sound there.

  59. 59
    Waldo on 25 Oct 2009 #

    I don’t think anybody’s mentioned the girl in the kissing booth, a fairground attraction surely defunct in our more enlightened times. As Rosie mentions, the problem with this one was that it simply would not go away and I still don’t think is ever has. A giant of a pop song linked to a cartoon (I remember thinking, wrongly, that The Archies were the Scooby-Doo kids), it would have been a major surprise had it bombed. The only criticism I have is that it was far too American and that the overwhelming embrace we gave it here was perhaps something of a surprise.

  60. 60
    Dan Worsley on 30 Apr 2010 #

    One of Mark E Smith’s favourite records apparently, that alone’s worth a couple of points.

    Between an 8 or 9 for me, purely for the contrast between the earthy male vocal (pour a little sugar on it, baby) and the soaring female response (don’t I make your life so sweet).

  61. 61
    richard thompson on 15 May 2010 #

    I haven’t heard it since this morning, it was played on Sots, a very radio friendly song, liked it aged 7, I don’t even like sugar these days or bubblegum or sweets, when I do play serious rock albums, such as ummagumma I can’t listen to too much of that stuff on my own either, part of that LP was recorded at Mothers in my local high street in Erdington, albums outsold singles in 1969, sugar sugar was also included in one of these hopeless medleys in 1981.

  62. 62
    Sam on 14 Sep 2010 #

    Was this ever on a Sugar Puffs advert? The first time I heard it was in 1978, when my mum upped and went to live on a ‘commune’ in Wales, taking me with her. An older kid played me this record, claiming it was by the Honey Monster – this was obviously confusing as nothing on the disc sounds like the Honey Monster.

    The problem with it is simply that it’s far too long for what’s in it, it should clock in at under two minutes. The bubblegum ‘Hey Jude’.

  63. 63
    crag on 14 Apr 2011 #

    DESERT ISLAND DISC WATCH:

    Nigella Lawson, TV Chef(2003).

  64. 64
    Lena on 6 Mar 2012 #

    When is bubblegum not bubblegum? http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/03/higher-love-lou-christie-im-gonna-make.html Thanks for reading, y’all!

  65. 65
    Lena on 8 Mar 2012 #

    Return of the Mac: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/03/guiding-hand-fleetwood-mac-oh-well-part.html Merci for reading, everyone!

  66. 67
    Lena on 13 Mar 2012 #

    We had a dream: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/03/end-of-era-stevie-wonder-yester-me.html Thanks for reading, everyone!

  67. 68
    Lena on 13 Mar 2012 #

    And so it ends?:http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/03/turn-around-kenny-rogers-and-first.html Merci for reading, everyone!

  68. 69
    wichita lineman on 14 Mar 2012 #

    Re 62: Honey Monster did a cover of Sugar Sugar in 1977, part of an EP with Disco Doreen and The Honey Monster Story. It has “99p” printed on the sleeve. It’s on Warner Brothers. Bloody weird.

    This Is Love is my second favourite Archies song, a single in ’71 I think:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfFTxJkQK4c

  69. 70
    Ken Shinn on 30 Jul 2012 #

    Re 62: Honey’s cover of the song was definitely used on a Sugar Puffs TV ad. “Gotta have a breakfast that tastes so yummy…Don’t know what I’d do without my Sugar Puffs, MUMMEEEEEEE!” Ably assisted on dad-dancing back-up by his oddly male Mummy, Henry McGee.

  70. 71
    hectorthebat on 6 Jun 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Blender (USA) – Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own (2003)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Dave Marsh & Kevin Stein (USA) – The 40 Best of the Top 40 Singles by Year (1981) 40
    Q (UK) – The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 765
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  71. 72
    redhairkid on 15 Feb 2015 #

    Not a record I particularly care for. Sorry, guys.

  72. 73
    lonepilgrim on 28 Sep 2017 #

    I was definitely aware of this at the time and as a 9 year old it hit my sweet spot (haw haw). Even so I grew tired of it after its long run with the same cartoon (getting progressively clipped) each week on TOTP. Now, I don’t mind it too much but I wouldn’t choose to listen to it.

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