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It’s been a while since we offered up a Music Post, an occasional tradition around here on Sundays. But with the encouraging news that the six lawmakers who are negotiating the state budget (i.e. the “big” House and Senate appropriations chairs) have made some significant progress this weekend, we were inspired to present this interpretive dance video of the groundbreaking song “Pop Corn” as an homage to them.
“Pop Corn” was composed by Gershon Kingsley and performed on a Moog (rhymes with “rogue”) synthesizer in 1969 for his album Music to Moog By. Mr. Kingsley, who is credited for introducing the synthesizer to popular music, reportedly wrote the piece in about 30 seconds after listening to the sounds made by a nearby popcorn machine. “To work on the synthesizer during Gershon Kingsley’s time took not only technical genius, but also a daring inventiveness and a thirst for experimentation,” comments Samuel Franco, writing for the San Francisco Jewish Community Weekly.
Mr. Kingsley went on the found the First Moog Quartet, the first electronic music group to perform at Carnegie Hall. They re-recorded the instrumental in 1971. Fellow quartet member Stan Free re-recorded the piece the next year with his own band, Hot Butter. The Hot Butter version, which we feature here, peaked at Number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. We have no idea who the six people dancing are, but they are awesome.
“Pop Corn” became the first international pop-dance-electronic hit, reaching number one on various charts and selling over two million copies worldwide. Popcorn has inspired countless remixes over the decades, including from the Boston Pops, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Jean Michel Jarre, and the Swedish Chef from The Muppets.
Mr. Kingsley, in addition to recording many other songs and movie scores, also created the musical riff accompaning the WGBH logo, which fans of public television will immediately recognize. He is now 92 years old.