Thursday, April 8, 2010

Retro Read: Bubblegum Music: The Nake Truth by Kim Cooper and David Smay

The current wave of 80s and 90s nostalgia is a bit disconcerting for someone standing on the precipice of middle age. Let's face it: we're getting old. I suppose that's how baby boomers must have felt watching the 60s and 70s come back in a big way twenty years ago. I remember the pages of Teen magazine during the summer of 1989 filled with retro hippy slang, granny dresses, and John Lennon glasses. Granted, it was the 20th anniversary of Woodstock; nothing like good old capitalism to celebrate peace, love, and understanding.

Of course, the 60s weren't all hippies and love-ins. The younger siblings, and the children of older baby boomers were cutting their teeth on sugary AM radio pop. At first I was hesitant to read Bubblegum Music, thinking it would be teeming with hipster irony, but it's actually a pretty cool homage to all those songs that should qualify as "guilty pleasures." (A concept I refuse to embrace. If it gives you pleasure, don't feel guilty. Own it.) There are a lot of fun, sometmes serious, essays here about bubblegum pop ranging from the 60s through the late 90s, including one really funny conversation about The Monkees. (Full disclosure: I am a huge Monkees fan.) It's aged surprisingly well, too (the book was written a decade ago.) The chapter, "1999: The Year Bubblegum Snapped," is just waiting for the next  generation's misty-eyed nostalgia.

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