Bubblegum Pop is a type of Pop music that is deliberately marketed towards teenagers and children, that is in an upbeat, positive style, and is regarded as not having much depth. The sounds is typically described as being ‘contrived’ as it is generally over-manufactured. Little known vocalists are usually used, and they have very limited – if at all – creative control; the music is very much driven and created by producers, with the aim purely being in sales rather than creating a worthwhile style of music. The genre arose in the United States in the late 1960’s and enjoyed mass popularity until the end of the 1970’s. Due to the genre being focused on creating simple, catchy hits, the genre is mostly composed of singles rather than albums; it gave way to the phenomenon of the ‘one hit wonder.’
Compositionally, Bubblegum Pop is very simple, as it is only meant to have one function; to be catchy enough to be memorable so people will buy the song. A lot of childlike themes are used, with the genre usually being focused on the innocence of younger teenagers. Occasionally double entendres will be included, giving songs a slightly more adult nature, causing some controversy as young people are buying music that they don’t fully understand the meaning of. Basic chord sequences are used; sometimes songs will only use four songs in their entirety, which is not a lot! Major scales are mostly used, thus providing the ‘upbeat’ tone, with limited inclusion of ‘unusual’ chords and melodies, with the theory being that the simplicity will appeal to as many people as possible. Simple harmonies are sometimes incorporated, but usually on thirds, as this is enough to create a different sound and create interest, but without making the sound ‘challenging’ in any way.
Riffs, either on guitars or pianos are included to add to the catchy nature of the songs, and simple beats, often composed synthetically on drum machines for example, also add to the repetitive sound. Friendships, happiness, and romance are common themes explored. Sweets also feature quite often within lyrics, with comparisons like, ‘sweet as candy,’ or sometimes they will be used as almost nonsensical descriptions, like ‘jelly beans,’ ‘caramel,’ being used to talk about a person or situation.
The image of bands and singers creating Bubblegum Pop is important too; boybands wearing pastel colours with neat haircuts are commonplace, and girls with dresses and hair in bunches are equally frequent, the idea being the singers are relatable to a young audience.
The instruments used are typical to that of Pop music, with vocals, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards and drums being included. Synthesizers are also generally incorporated as they can create a ‘clean’ Pop sound, fitting with the somewhat ‘plastic’ nature of the music.
Overall, I dislike Bubblegum Pop by principal, as it is produced with little thought to actually creating interesting music with any kind of message, and is simply made as a means for making money. However, due to the innocent lyrics and happy sound, the music is accessible to people of all ages, and is a useful bridge for getting children and young teens into music, which is definitely a positive thing. Certainly there is no harm in enjoying some catchy, upbeat music from time to time.