Monday, January 2, 2012

Brand New Key - Melanie

(M. Safka) Buddah 2011 105


Chart Entry: 8th January, 1972
Highest Position: #1
Points: 103,096
From the album "Gather Me".


It was meant to be a quirky break from her more serious work, an innocent tune inspired by the music of the 30's, but Melanie's "Brand New Key" took on a life of its own once it hit the airwaves in 1971.

Apparently, Melanie's search for spiritual enlightenment caused her to go on a 27 day fast, drinking nothing but distilled water. The fast seemed to have failed as the urge for a McDonald's burger prompted her to write "Brand New Key" on the return trip from the restaurant. It took just 15 minutes for the hit to be written, the lyrics suggesting nothing more than a day with a young girl who has just bought herself a brand new pair of rollerskates. No cause for controversy? Think again.

In an interview, Melanie acknowledged that once a song was written, the listeners may interpret it in any way they choose, and in the case of "Brand New Key" it was taken in the Freudian way, the famous lock and key analogy of a sexual encounter replacing the innocent travels of the rollerskating girl. Melanie insists that the song is about the former and not the latter. Nevertheless, "Brand New Key" was banned by radio stations, possibly adding to its worth to purchase the single, propelling it to #1 in Australia, Canada and the US.

The supposed sexuality of the song was further reinforced during the 1997 film, Boogie Nights when Heather Graham's character, the aptly named Roller Girl, has sex for the first time with Mark Wahlberg. I guess with all that attention devoted to the perverse side of "Brand New Key", Melanie would have to cave into the "new" meaning of the song and reap the rewards.

There wasn't too much more for Melanie in the way of commercial success after her biggest hit. In Australia, she enjoyed another four minor hits, 1973's "Bitter Bad" the only one to make any impression on the Top 50 when it peaked at #49. In 1989, Melanie received an Emmy for writing the lyrics for the theme to TV's Beauty And The Beast, "The First Time I Loved Forever". Since then, ten albums have been added to Melanie's extensive discography, the last, 2010's Ever Since You Never Heard Of Me.


Chart Run: (26 weeks in Top 100)
(Go-Set Charts)

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