May 07

DONNY OSMOND – “Puppy Love”

FT + Popular32 comments • 8,028 views

#316, 8th July 1972

DonnyThe badness of this track is no fault whatsoever of its singer: Donny’s performance sells the song, and by the end he sounds honestly desperate for his love to be real. The problem is that Osmond sounds too young – he was 15 but his voice here is quavering, barely broken, and against a wretchedly treacly arrangement he is helplessly cast as cute. And we listeners are equally helplessly cast as the disbelieving world who don’t believe in the love, or the record, or any of it. We don’t have to, of course: enough of us have to find it adorable to make it a smash, no more.But its adorability has worn seriously thin.



  1. 1
    Erithian on 11 May 2007 #

    Well, there were many of us who didn’t find it adorable at the time! Just as Jeff W made the discovery from “Metal Guru” that pop stars could be objects of lust, this was the one that made me realise that girls could swoon over yukky singers like Donny. Didn’t like it then and it hasn’t aged well.

    Of course this was another facet of the rock’n’roll revival. That same summer Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Bill Haley and Chuck Berry appeared in a Wembley revival gig, so it was logical that the other side of late 50s teen culture, Paul Anka and Tab Hunter love songs, should put in an appearance as well. Then in 1973 George Lucas warmed up for “Star Wars” with “American Graffiti”, cashing in on nostalgia for the long-gone era of, er, 11 years previously. Imagine a hit film about Britpop coming out this year.

  2. 2
    jeff w on 11 May 2007 #

    Yes, I think my reaction at the time was similar. I totally got (and get!) the adoration of David Cassidy circa ’72, but Donny? ew

    But I don’t get this comment of Tom’s: “the problem is that Osmond sounds too young”. Isn’t that exactly the point of the song, hammered home in Donny’s follow-up cover of “Too Young”? ‘They’ say we are not old enough to know what love is. (There’s that shadowy ‘they’ again from “Vincent”.) But what do ‘they’ know, says Donny, about what a young heart really feels. And you try telling those tweenie girls with their bedroom posters of Osmond that they’re too young to really be in love.

  3. 3

    haha i on the other hand* WORE A GIANT OSMONDS BADGE at school — i confess that this was to make my pals go WTF** more than any enormous love of (or knowledge of) osmonds music

    *actually quite a bit later than this
    **i shd do a post on the poptimist resistance underground at my school, there was a MILITANT ABBA FAN w.no friends who enjoyed being hated for this (and admittedly other less shallow) reasons — he was also having an affair with a 35-year-old woman, tho i’m not sure what the relevance is

  4. 4
    Erithian on 11 May 2007 #

    Number 2 Watch: Donny held off the debut hits for two pretty big 70s acts: Gary Glitter’s “Rock’n’Roll Part 2” and Dr Hook’s “Sylvia’s Mother”.

    NME described 1972 as the year of the pretties, with Osmond, Cassidy and Michael Jackson breaking out from their real or fictional family acts to bigger solo status. One question – how come the UK didn’t get the same thing happening with Bobby Sherman, who was huge in the US but had just one minor hit here?

  5. 5
    Tom on 11 May 2007 #

    Jeff what I was trying to get at is that he sounds about 10, rather than about 14-15, i.e. when he sings “They call it puppy love”, I think “Yes, they’re probably right.” instead of “Aww poor Donny”.

  6. 6
    Rosie on 11 May 2007 #

    I never caught the Osmonds bug. I was too old for it by this time – I’m the Monkees generation – and this kind of saccharine sentimentality never was my thing.

    It’s a pretty enough song but the interpretation makes me want to reach for the sick bag.

  7. 7

    osmondcorp central picked up on the “erm not old enuff” prob and quickly despatched LITTLE JIMMIO to sort it (this may be a number one so i won’t say more)

    aw, look at donny’s cheeky little face

  8. 8
    Marcello Carlin on 11 May 2007 #

    Bobby Sherman never came to Britain, is the quick answer. White Plains had the hit with “Julie Do Ya Love Me?” here.

  9. 9
    Tommy Mack on 11 May 2007 #

    There’s something of John Kerry about that photo of Donny.

  10. 10
    Lena on 11 May 2007 #

    Maybe he did this song as “Go Away Little Girl” went to #1 in the US and osmondcorp wanted to capitalize on his youth, before his voice changed?

    I was way too young to know about him at the time, but he must have been the grandmas’ favorite too, so utterly wholesome…

  11. 11
    DavidM on 12 May 2007 #

    i.e. when he sings “They call it puppy love”, I think “Yes, they’re probably right.”

    Well, yes, you would, because you’re one of the ‘they’! Though he is young – and sounds younger – it’s TRU LUV.
    Though I’ll guess you’ll… never know.

    Anyway. Yes, this song is unbearable. And the arrangement of the lettering on the poster irritates me strangely.

  12. 12
    Chris Brown on 12 May 2007 #

    At first glance, doesn’t that photo look worryingly like he’s pointing a gun at us? Maybe it’s just because I associate that typeface with cowboys for some reason.

  13. 13
    steve m on 14 May 2007 #

    fear his guns of love

  14. 14
    intothefireuk on 15 May 2007 #

    Well I was pre-teen at the time this was around and therefore probably in the prime target audience. It’s fluff but I liked it then and for some reason I still like it now. Either that’s an astounding lack of taste or there must be some redeeming quality in the record that no one else gets. I don’t think he does sound that young and it’s the double tracked pleading vocal, ultimately, along with the overall rich production of it that sucks me in. Fortunately, of the whole Osmonds catalogue, I only like this & Crazy Horses so it’s only a minor lapse.

  15. 15

    everyone likes crazy horses except ppl who are lying to themselves

    (in fact even ppl whpo are lying to themselves like it! but they’re lying to themselves!)

  16. 16
    Marcello Carlin on 15 May 2007 #

    “Crazy Horses” is OK but I liked it better when the Doors recorded it in ’69 under the title “Touch Me.”

    “Let Me In” is the real concealed Osmonds classic, if it had been on SMiLE cont p 994b

  17. 17
    Mark Grout on 16 May 2007 #

    I remember the first time I heard this! It was on a TV show, a protoVideo of Don walking around a lake looking wistful.

    The Orchestra swirls, the tune starts, and I thought “Ah ok, girl backing vocals…. When’s the lad starting to sing then?”

  18. 18
    Waldo on 17 May 2007 #

    Someone help me, HELP ME, pleeeeeeze!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. 19
    Marcello Carlin on 17 May 2007 #

    Is that one of Paul Anka’s backing musicians?

    “Can anyone here add to the confusion?”

  20. 20
    Doctor Casino on 25 May 2007 #

    I expected to hate this, but instead I just don’t mind it. Tom is completely right about the “too young” problem – but there’s a pretty broad tradition of that sort of thing. The reference point here isn’t Paul Anka, but The Students’ “I’m So Young” (yes, you are). And of course, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers.

  21. 21
    Marcello Carlin on 25 May 2007 #

    er, Paul Anka wrote it.

  22. 22
    Doctor Casino on 25 May 2007 #

    Well, sure…but…still!

  23. 23
    Marcello Carlin on 27 May 2007 #

    This just in from Paul Anka via email: “You have no conscious. Where’s Joe?”

  24. 24
    mike on 5 Oct 2007 #

    About half an hour ago, Donny Osmond himself (for lo, it was He) sang the opening line of this song to me down the phone. I have never struggled so hard to maintain professional composure.

  25. 25
    wichita lineman on 22 May 2008 #

    Crazy Horses = Touch Me?? Can’t see that for the life of me.

    Got to agree, as an 8 yr old at the time, that the whole “they” thing made sense. It’s all very non-sexual, so the success of the record (not the song – I guess Anka was cynical even at 16) is entirely based on generational misunderstanding. The early 70s was the first time anyone had made records that gave any credit to the idea that pre-teens might fancy each other. Salt Lake City Donny aged 15 most likely equated to pre-teen UK boys and girls more than yr average 15 yr-old in 1972; hence, this hitting bigger here than the teen-oriented Go Away Little Girl.

    I remember hearing this for the first time on Tony Blackburn’s breakfast show along with Love Unlimited’s Walking In The Rain, both mid-tempo and keening. Of course, I listen to one more than the other these days.

    And all Donny hits here-on in were dismissed by me and my 8+ mates as “weedy”, not at all to be confused with Love Unlimited. We learned fast. And I’ll stand by that judgment.

  26. 26
    richard thompson on 23 May 2008 #

    I know it’s fluff, Alan Freeman played it on Pick of the pops, my sister was in love with Donny, there was a mile long queue of women waiting to sign his book in Birmingham and one fainted when he turned up, only he was late and didn’t have time to sign everyones, the only time I saw him in the flesh, my dog won the dog with the best trick at this summer at Brean Sands, he sat up and begged, this song reminds me of being ten, depends on how old you were at the time, though my mates in the juniors didn’t like the Osmonds, they all liked Slade, all the girls loved Donny.

  27. 27
    Lena on 6 Nov 2012 #

    You won’t hear this on the radio: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/the-bull-in-maze-gary-glitter-rock-n.html Thanks for waiting – and reading – everyone!

  28. 28
    Lena on 20 Nov 2012 #

    Someone help him, help him please: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/11/hang-up-heartbreak-dr-hook-medicine.html Thanks for reading, linking, etc. everybody!

  29. 29
    Paulito on 1 Dec 2016 #

    One small correction to Tom’s entry: Donny was in fact just 13 when he recorded this, not 15. So no wonder he sounds so young. Because he was, like.

  30. 30
    Lazarus on 29 Dec 2017 #

    I don’t have a lot of time for this either but the one Donny song I do go back to is the Goffin/King song ‘Hey Girl’ (co-written with Freddie Scott) which went Top 10 in the States for Freddie in 1963 and later provided similar success for Donny – from his ‘Portrait of Donny’ LP. Surprisingly, I don’t think it was ever issued as a single here. Billy Joel later recorded a decent version.

  31. 31
    lonepilgrim on 2 Sep 2018 #

    As a 12 year old at the time I found this song – with a boy almost my age professing love for a girl – toe curlingly embarrassing. Was this how I was supposed to have to behave in the future? The glitzy production didn’t (and doesn’t) make me better disposed to it either.

  32. 32
    Gareth Parker on 30 May 2021 #

    Only 2/10 here for me I’m afraid. Not my cup of tea at all.

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