Sep 06

THE ARCHIES – “Sugar, Sugar”

FT + Popular75 comments • 9,117 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.



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  1. 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.

  2. 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’.

  3. 63
    crag on 14 Apr 2011 #


    Nigella Lawson, TV Chef(2003).

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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:


  9. 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.

  10. 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)

  11. 72
    redhairkid on 15 Feb 2015 #

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

  12. 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.

  13. 74
    Babs Nightingale on 27 Apr 2021 #

    I’m in the middle with this one, 5/10 would be my score. An intriguing mix of hits stalling at #2; Lou Christie, Fleetwood Mac, Tremeloes, Stevie Wonder and then Kenny Rogers.

  14. 75
    Gareth Parker on 1 Jun 2021 #

    Passable bubblegum fodder to me. 4/10.

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