These posts are about the songs that can accurately claim to crossed the key line of chart success, becoming Top 40 hits on Billboard, but just barely. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 40.
The line-up of the terrifically successful band the Archies was as follows: Archie Andrews on lead vocals and guitar, Reggie Mantle on rhythm guitar, Jughead Jones on drums, Betty Cooper on tambourine and Veronica Lodge on keyboards. Except, of course, it wasn’t. Transferring the popular comic book teenagers that debuted in the pages of a standard superhero anthology series a quarter-century earlier to an animated television series, The Archie Show debuted in 1968. The show’s premise involved the gang performing together as a rock ‘n’ roll band, and producer Don Kirshner was charged with pulling together expert studio musicians to create the songs that would be incorporated into the show.
It’s probably fair to say that it worked beyond their wildest imaginings. “Sugar, Sugar” not only spent four weeks at #1 in the fall of 1969; it was the biggest hit song of the year, topping Billboard‘s year end chart, beating out nonfictional acts like the Rolling Stones, the Temptations and Sly and the Family Stone. Standing in for Archie Andrews was the amazingly named Ron Dante, who had another Top 10 hit that fall with his real band the Cuff Links. Clearly, the stunning success of “Sugar, Sugar” ensured that there would be many more releases under the name the Archies, even after the cartoon show that spawned the imaginary outfit was canceled at the completion of its first and only season. Clearly, simplistic, even silly names that reflected the bubblegum pop created in the band’s name served the Archies well as “Jingle Jangle” and “Bang Shang-A-Lang” also made it well into the Top 40.
It was the last single to chart in the Top 40 that only barely made it across that illustrious line. “Who’s Your Baby?” was released as a single in the spring of 1970 with “Senorita Rita” on the flip side. Dante was still handling the male vocals, but original female vocalist Toni Wine had dropped out by this point. Since the label was hardly going out of their way to credit this person as anyone other than “Veronica,” it’s not entirely clear who handled those duties on the song, although most sources point to Donna Marie. It’s an especially interesting question given the potency of the sexpot cooing at the beginning of the song as she demands, “Tell me how much do you love me?” and then responds to the answer by purring, “Mmmm, heavy!” It’s a remarkably steamy beginning for a song that was ostensibly being recorded by squeaky clean, all-American cartoon teens. The bulk of the track is quintessential bubblegum, sounding like Jackson 5 in an especially happy mood. Clearly, being real is overrated.