Bubblegum Pop

Bubblegum Pop & Opinions on Beyoncé and The Knux

With the explosion of acts like the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus, it's time to take a look at the musical genre that has had teens screaming for over half a century: Bubblegum Pop.

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Music News

A glance at the numbers coming out of the traditional music industry institutions don't paint a pretty picture. But, as Jim and Greg explain, for everyone outside the major labels and distributors, 2008 hasn't actually been such a bad year. Apple is reporting a 34% increase in sales. This includes iTunes downloads as well as players and accessories, but compare these stats with the 20% dip the record companies are reporting, and you get even more proof that the old model needs tweaking.

There's another surprising news item coming out of the digital music realm. If you had asked Jim and Greg years ago to bet on what artist would dominate digital music sales today, they would never have guessed Journey. The power balladeers' 1981 hit "Don't Stop Believin" just became top selling catalog track in iTunes history with over 2 million downloads. How did this song eclipse heavy hitters like "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Bohemian Rhapsody?" Greg attributes the song's late blooming success to 3 things: its association with the Chicago White Sox, its use in the Sopranos' finale, and its use during Kanye West's most recent tour. Jim would prefer to never have to hear from Journey again, but Greg will defend the song's catchiness, particularly that unforgettable keyboard riff.

In sadder news, South African singer Miriam Makeba died last week at the age of 76. Greg says that Makeba is to South Africa what Edith Piaf, Mahalia Jackson and Celia Cruz are to their home countries. Her passion for South Africa and for all of the continent mirrored her voice and her music, and in the case of her recording contract, jeopardized it. Makeba is best remembered through the conviction you can hear in songs, so Jim and Greg play the updated version of "Pata Pata" from her 2000 album Homeland.


Bubblegum Pop

Bubblegum Pop acts like Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers are all the rage now, but a look back at the history of rock shows that teen and tween-oriented acts have always dominated the charts. Ever since music executives discovered how successful you could be marketing to kids, they have been manufacturing Bubblegum Pop acts for each new generation. But while not all of these teen idols can claim to be artists, many produced terrific, upbeat, well-crafted songs. Here are some of Jim and Greg's favorites:

  • Ricky Nelson
  • 1910 Fruitgum Company
  • Ohio Express
  • The Archies
  • The Banana Splits
  • Jackson 5
  • New Edition
  • Boys II Men
  • Backstreet Boys
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Naked Brothers
  • Hilary Duff
reviewI Am... Sasha FierceI Am...Sasha Fierce available on iTunes

Beyonce I Am...Sasha Fierce

Beyonce and her alter-ego have a new album out called I Am…Sasha Fierce. The album contains two discs, one comprised of ballads (the Beyonce side) and one comprised of funkier, up-tempo tracks (the Sasha Fierce side). Greg explains that Beyonce has reinvented being an R&B diva in the 21st century by putting the emphasis on songs. But, that's where this release falls through for him. The songs are not as strong, and he doesn't buy the Sasha Fierce attitude. For Greg this is a Trash It. Jim couldn‘t disagree more. He thought the ballad side had surprising range. Another pleasant surprise was Beyonce’s take on europop dance music. The second disc is full of great party tracks, and Jim recommends listeners Buy It.

reviewRemind Me In 3 Days...Remind Me in 3 Days available on iTunes

The Knux Remind Me in 3 Days

The Knux is a hip-hop brother act originally from New Orleans. Their new album Remind Me in 3 Days follows the release of a successful MySpace hit "Cappuccino." Jim admits that they aren't the greatest of rappers, but he was blown away by their enthusiasm. That enthusiasm extends to the inventive production as well. Greg agrees, calling the duo“audacious.”But he notes that while they bring in lots of reference points, they are completely unpolished in a refreshing way. Both critics give The Knux debut a Buy It rating.


Featured Songs

  1. Kanye West, Heartless, 808's and Heartbreak, Roc-A-Fella, 2008
  2. Journey, Don't Stop Believing, Escape, CBS International, 1981
  3. Miriam Makeba, Homeland, Homeland, Putumayo Artists, 2000
  4. Miriam Makeba, Pata Pata 2000, New World Party, Putumayo Artists, 1999
  5. High School Musical 3, Now or Never, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Walt Disney Records, 2008
  6. The Dixie Cups, Iko Iko, Chapel of Love, Red Bird, 1964
  7. Ricky Nelson, Believe What You Say, Ricky Sings Again, Imperial, 1959
  8. The Ramones, Little Bit O' Soul, Subterranean Jungle, Sire, 1983
  9. Ohio Express, Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, Ohio Express, Buddha, 1968
  10. 1910 Fruitgum Company, Simon Says, Simon Says, Buddha, 1968
  11. The Archies, Sugar Sugar, Everything's Archie, Essential Media Group, 1969
  12. The Banana Splits, The Tra La La Song, The Tra La La Song, Decca, 1968
  13. Jackson 5, I Want You Back, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5, Motown, 1969
  14. New Edition, Cool it Now, New Edition, MCA, 1984
  15. Boyz II Men, Water Runs Dry, II, Motown, 1994
  16. Backstreet Boys, I Want It That Way, Millenium, Jive, 1999
  17. Justin Timberlake, Rock Your Body, Justified, Jive, 2003
  18. Hillary Duff, So Yesterday, Metamorphosis, Buena Vista, 2003
  19. Beyonce, If I Were A Boy, I Am…Sasha Fierce, Columbia, 2008
  20. Beyonce, Diva, I Am…Sasha Fierce, Columbia, 2008
  21. Beyonce, Irreplaceable, B'Day, Columbia/Music World/Sony Urban, 2006
  22. The Knux, Cappuccino, Remind Me in 3 Days, Interscope, 2008
  23. The Knux, The List, Remind Me in 3 Days, Interscope, 2008
  24. Kanye West, Robocop, 808's and Heartbreak, Roc-A-Fella, 2008
  25. Jodeci, My Phone, Forever My Lady, Uptown, 1991
  26. The Eagles, Take It Easy, Eagles, Asylum, 1972
  27. Cocteau Twins, Lorelei, Treasure, Rough Trade Germany, 1984
  28. The Vivian Girls, Where Do You Run To, Vivian Girls, In the Red, 2008


nytimes.com Digital music sales up in 2008 theguardian.com Journey boasts most downloaded song nytimes.com Miriam Makeba dies youtube.com Listen to Miriam Makeba sing“The Click Song” beyonce.com Beyonce chicagotribune.com Greg's Chicago Tribune review of Beyonce jimdero.com Jim's Chicago Sun-Times review of Beyonce and The Knux soundcloud.com The Knux wikipedia.org About The Knux last.fm Listen to *I Am…Sasha Fierce."