In spite of (or, more likely, because of) the momentous cultural turning points which stretched across 1969 -- among them, Woodstock, Vietnam, the moon landing, and the beginning of the Nixon presidency -- the biggest-selling pop single of the year was not the product of a generational torch bearer like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, or Bob Dylan. In fact, it wasn't even the work of a real band at all. With the Archies' "Sugar, Sugar," pop music moved 180 degrees away from the overtly political, consciousness-expanding aesthetic which emerged during the Summer of Love toward a calculated simplicity and innocence not heard since the years prior to the British Invasion. For better or worse, "Sugar, Sugar" and the countless bubblegum records which came before and after didn't reflect their times, but rejected them -- escapist fare at its purest and most palatable. Conceived by producer Don Kirshner following his firing by another pre-fab (albeit flesh-and-blood) group, the Monkees, and inspired by the long-running Archie comic book line and subsequent animated series, the cartoon band was in reality a group of session musicians including vocalists Ron Dante, Ellie Greenwich, Andy Kim, and Toni Wine; Kim co-authored "Sugar, Sugar" with Jeff Barry, Greenwich's husband and longtime songwriting partner. The song is the very essence of simplicity, a classically constructed pop record with an undeniably infectious melody and charmingly inane puppy-love lyrics; nothing revelatory and nothing earth-shattering, which is precisely the point -- as the "bubblegum" appellation suggests, it's total ear candy, and lord knows it struck a chord, selling over six million copies. What "Sugar, Sugar" offers is a complete escape from reality, sticky-sweet feel-good music so blatantly commercial and artificial it wasn't even attributed to three-dimensional performers -- coming at a time when counterculture credibility meant seemingly everything, it would be almost tempting to call the Archies revolutionary if that didn't defeat the entire purpose of what they were all about.