questions on identity in virtual bands and Vocaloid 



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The Archies is an American fictional band that was founded by Archie AndrewsReggie Mantle, and Jughead Jones, a group of fictional adolescent characters of the Archie universe. The group is known for their real-world success, through a virtual band where the founders played fictional leads- vocalist/guitarist Archie Andrews, bassist Reggie Mantle, drummer  “Jughead” Jones (Beaty,2017). They were later joined by vocalist/keyboardist Veronica Lodge and vocalist/percussionist Betty Cooper.

The concept of the Archies was conceived by Don Kirshner, a music manager who had gained a great deal of fame from being the guy that was brought in by the producers of The Monkees to manage the band itself. Kirshner was a big believer in the idea of studio musicians. He wanted to be able to control every aspect of the production of the song and with studio musicians, that was possible.

The fictional band was inspired by the success of the 1966 TV series The Monkees (Ventrella & Arnold, 2017).   In reality, of course, they were a studio blend made up of hired professionals, but in this case, they weren’t technically faceless. The Archies made no pretence of being a real band in the first place as their music, including the smash hit “Sugar, Sugar,” was “performed” by the animated TV cartoon characters spun off from Archie’s comics.

The Archies is not only the first fictitious band to reach No. 1 on the Billboard charts in the U.S., but it is also the only group to reach such heights without ever performing the song live on stage. Their song “sugar sugar” developed pop culture in its days as it was featured in, The Wonder Years episode “Double Double Date”, and was later used in a fantasy sequence in The Simpsons episode “Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood“, in which Homer dances alongside giant ice cream cones and lollipops on a desert island.  “Sugar, Sugar” has also been featured in several films, such as Now and ThenA Very Brady Sequel (1996), The Sandlot 2 (2005), The Magic Roundabout (2005), Bee Movie (2007) and The Campaign (2012).

The bands’ songs “Everything’s Archie”, “Sugar, Sugar”, “Fortunate Son”, “Everyday People” became hits of their days making the band popular (Stark 2018). Their music genres bubblegum pop that started in the 1960s is highly celebrated for the development of pop music of recent times. Many people who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s still remember cutting out The Archies albums attached to the back of cereal boxes and playing them on their record players.  The song “sugar sugar” remains a moment of levity for those living through a turbulent time in U.S. history.

The parent album of “Sugar Sugar” right On reached No. 197 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The recording was later used in the 1997 film The Ice Storm. In 2020, the “Sugar Sugar” song appeared in a  TV commercial for Applebee’s. The cover of “Sugar, Sugar” peaked at the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 25 and reached Number 4 on the R&B chart.

The Archies were adored by young people who loved their music, and by an older generation who saw them as a clean-cut throwback to a quieter, more respectful time. They have been an inspiration to many young and old folks across the globe and has sparked several projects. The series Riverdale has been inspired by the Archies band that has also adopted character names such as Betty and jughead from it. In the series, Betty forms a band and names it “the archies”.

Scooby-Doo was also originally inspired by the Archies. After the Archies became a smash pop sensation, CBS’s head of daytime programming Fred Silverman requested a new cartoon that would essentially be the Archies solving mysteries. Hanna and Barbera came up with Mysteries Five, which evolved into Who’s S-S-Scared? which became Scooby-Doo. The Chipmunks may have invented the idea, and Gorillaz may have pushed the concept into the 21st century, they both formed a cartoon band quite like The Archies. Lead vocalist Ron Dante sang for other fictional and bubblegum bands. Dante sang Betty and Veronica’s lead vocals on “Jingle, Jangle,” too. Singer Toni Wine also wrote massive hits like “A Groovy Kind of Love” and “Candida.” The voice of Jughead is a songwriter legend.

To date, the Archies are the only fictional band to ever top Billboard’s year-end pop chart, as “Sugar, Sugar” was the top-selling song in America in 1969. Perhaps that will change in the future when we consume holographic pop stars in virtual reality, but for now, the record belongs to Archie, Jughead, Reggie, Betty and Veronica. The Archies should be part of the “rock n roll” textbook because with additional content and newly remastered comic art and colouring on selected stories, the new value softcover should do very well on holiday displays and wherever books are sold.









Beaty, B. (2017). The Archies. In Twelve-Cent Archie (pp. 177-182). Rutgers University Press.

Stark, A. (2018). Virtual pop: gender, ethnicity, and identity in virtual bands and Vocaloid (Doctoral dissertation, Cardiff University).

Ventrella, M. A., & Arnold, M. (2017). Long Title: Looking for the Good Times-Examining the Monkees’ Songs. One by One. BearManor Media.

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