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What Is Sunshine Pop?

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What Is Sunshine Pop?

5th Dimension's 1967 LP Up, Up and Away

Definition: Although it's often confused with Bubblegum Pop or Baroque (Chamber) Pop, "Sunshine" pop is actually much closer in form and function to Europop; while the bubblegum hits of the late Sixties shared its sunny harmonies, bubblegum tended to have a somewhat harder R&B edge. Likewise, though Sunshine Pop shares some elements with Baroque pop (harpsichords, for example), that's mainly due to their common musical ancestry. The true nature of Sunshine's genealogy is twofold: the swinging Europop of the early and mid-60s, which emphasized Euro folk music elements and big brassy arrangements, and the Los Angeles pop sound already epitomized by the Beach Boys, which took its cues from the postwar pop vocal tradition. The result is a relentlessly upbeat, cheery style that -- in a rarity for the rock era -- features no blues or jazz elements to speak of.

The typical sunshine pop song, true to its name, features lyrics that focus on the beauty of nature, specifically its spring and summertime versions: sunny days, green grass, warm breezes. But the real joy of the genre lies in its escapism; many of its most famous songs are primarily concerned with nature as a metaphor for freedom, for a natural and uncomplicated approach to life. This was no accident, given the youth movement that was already defining the decade.

The aforementioned L.A. sheen, along with the style's signature vocal harmonies, helped drive this point home. By the end of the decade, sunshine pop had become so ingrained in society that it was seen as the family-friendly alternative to the darker and more revolutionary strains of rock then taking root. (The Brady Bunch and Partridge Family TV shows both benefited from this perception.) Eventually the style morphed into "soft rock," as America's teens began to pick up on the other revolution: the one happening in danceable R&B.

Also Known As: Bubblegum, Europop
Examples:
  1. "Up, Up and Away," 5th Dimension (purchase/download)
  2. "The Rain, The Park and Other Things," The Cowsills (purchase/download)
  3. "98.6," Keith (purchase/download)
  4. "Lazy Day," Spanky and Our Gang (purchase/download)
  5. "Windy," The Association (purchase/download)
  6. "59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)," Harper's Bizarre (purchase/download)
  7. "Happy Together," The Turtles (purchase/download)
  8. "Daydream Believer," The Monkees (purchase/download)
  9. "I Think I Love You," The Partridge Family (purchase/download)
  10. "Go Where You Wanna Go," The Mamas and the Papas (purchase/download)
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