The Songs of Summer #60: ‘I Want Candy’ by The Strangeloves
60! Two months give or take a day of nothing but the finest summertime songs from across the decades!! Today’s entry is another song that doesn’t have anything to do specifically with summer, but it’s a summer song nevertheless. Why? Because I say so, that’s why. Remember, this is my list? And I get to do things my way? Good.
‘I Want Candy‘ was a #11 smash hit in the summer of ’65 for The Strangeloves, which was really just a group of studio musicians along with the song’s writers Bert Berns, Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer. Studio band they may be, but ‘I Want Candy’ is a garage pop song for the ages. The Strangeloves recorded an album’s worth of other original songs and covers, but none capture the energy or the magic of ‘I Want Candy‘. Its’ lo-fi recording quality and stomping Bo Diddley beat make it perfect for the summer soundtrack.
I suppose I should take a second to try to explain a little bit about my songs of summer. Why do some songs, like this one, make the list when then have nothing to do with summer? Hmmm…It’s kind of hard to explain. It’s about the way they sound, they way they make me feel. But more than anything else, I think about it like this:
I’m at the beach…the sun is out, with just a touch of a cool breeze…I’m stretched out in a beach chair, umbrella shading me from the hottest of the sun’s rays…the surf is rolling in, and I’m just relaxing, maybe with a good paperback book, maybe just people-watching..Definitely with my girl by my side, and definitely with a cooler of icy beverages nearby. What would a song sound like coming out of a single tiny speaker on a battery-powered radio? Would it sound just right? Would it enhance the perfect summer mood? If yes, then it’s a Song of Summer. That’s my formula. People of a younger generation may think a perfect summer song is one that sounds good pumping out of a car trunk full of sub-woofers. That’s cool. Everybody’s entitled to their very own Songs of Summer, and their very own set of criteria that makes a song qualify. This is simply how I do it.
And I guess that’s why so many of my favorite summer songs are older; they were recorded, engineered and mastered to sound their best when played in less than pristine conditions…like blasting out of a car or transistor radio speaker. I don’t need a $10,000 stereo system to get good sound. With the right song, any crappy speaker will do, and it’ll sound like perfection. Like ‘I Want Candy ‘. Its primitive sound, slightly distorted vocals…sound so good on a summer day.
Like most everybody else who wasn’t around in 1965, I first became aware of this song through it’s cover version by new wave band Bow Wow Wow, and its beach-themed video from MTV’s early days (in fact, it’s a prototypical early-MTV music video. So classic.) It too, is a Song of Summer.
Do you want candy? I want candy.
Original Strangeloves version:
Bow Wow Wow, from 1982: