The Cowsills In Magazines

Arts and Entertainment
July 19, 1968
Time Magazine


Tunes for Teeny-Weenies

A dozen years ago, Critic John Mason Brown defined television as chewing gum for the eyes. Now the record industry has come up with the bubble gum for the ears. Set to a chink-a-chink beat, bleating out the pep-rally fervor, it goes like this:

Yummy, yummy, yummy, I got love in my tummy,
And I feel like a-lovin’ you;
Love, you’re such a sweet thing,
good enough to eat thing,
And that’s just a-what I’m gonna doooooo.

Bubble-gum music is the latest confection created for the subteen market, which accounts for about one out of every four single records sold. These customers, who range from high school freshman all the way down to third-graders, are the displaced person of the rock revolution. Today’s groups sing about such everyday teen-age concerns as war, alienation, racism and narcotics. But to quite a few subteens, especially the more sheltered ones, having a social conscience means worrying about getting home by 10 p.m., grass is just grass, sex is necking, and the byword is don’t trust anybody over 13.

Bubble-gum music speaks to them of their own concerns, or rather unconcerns. Since they are a the awkward age, midway between playing house for fun and playing it for real, the music shrewdly looks both ways, combining nursery rhymes with sex. In May I Take A Giant Step (into Your Heart), the lines go:

I remember how it started
All the kids were out to play,
Then she said, “Hey, let’s play
‘May I.’”

On a forthcoming record, a group called the Salt Water Taffy chants Sticks & Stones:

Nothing you could say could ever
make me leave her …
Save your breath ‘cause I’m ignoring,
But don’t forget it’s me that’s scoring.

Simon Says. The bubble-gum trend has been puffed up largely by a 25-year-old former actor and rock-‘n-roll singer named Neil Bogart. Last year, as general manager of the newly formed Buddah record label, he set the formula with a recording called Simon Says. It sold 1,700,0000 copies. The latest in line of 28 similar disks is Yummy, Yummy, Yummy by the Ohio Express, which last week was No. 15 on the Billboards bestseller chart of 100. In all, Buddah has piled up first year sales of $5,800,000 and has already grown to be the nations seventh largest producer of single records.

Now other groups and labels are cashing in on the same market, including the Cowsills on MGM (Indian Lake) and Manfred Mann on Mercury (My Name Is Jack). But Buddah and Bogart hold the original charter,. “We are giving kids something to identify with that is clean, fresh and happy,” Bogart says. “Let them worry about the world’s problems when they get older.”

Fair enough. But many parents will find more reason than rhyme in the lyrics of Bubble-Gum World:

You think you’re in a bubble-gum world,
It is getting to the point, you’re going a little insane.

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