Brand New Key

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"Brand New Key"
Melanie Brand New Ky.jpg
Song by Melanie from the album Gather Me
Released1971
GenreFolk, pop
Length2:26
LabelNeighborhood Records
ComposerMelanie Safka
ProducerPeter Schekeryk
 
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"Brand New Key"
Melanie Brand New Ky.jpg
Song by Melanie from the album Gather Me
Released1971
GenreFolk, pop
Length2:26
LabelNeighborhood Records
ComposerMelanie Safka
ProducerPeter Schekeryk

"Brand New Key" is a popular music song written and sung by folk music singer Melanie (Melanie Safka-Schekeryk), which became a novelty success during 1971-72. Initially part of Melanie's album Gather Me, it was known also as "The Rollerskate Song" due to its chorus. It was her greatest success, scoring No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart during December 1971 and January 1972. Billboard ranked it as the No. 9 song of 1972.[1] It also scored No. 1 in Canada and Australia and No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart. Melanie's version of "Brand New Key" was featured in the 1997 movie Boogie Nights as well as the 2010 movie Jackass 3D.

Overview[edit]

The song is sung from the viewpoint of a girl with roller skates trying to attract the attention of a boy:

I got a brand new pair of roller skates,
You got a brand new key.
I think that we should get together and try them out, to see ...

The roller skates in question would have been old-style children's quad skates, which were clamped to the soles of ordinary leather-soled shoes. The clamps were tightened with a special "key" that was basically a very simple socket wrench. If the key was lost or misplaced, a pair of pliers (preferably needle-nosed) or other tool could usually substitute, though at some inconvenience. Although the lyrics claim that the roller skates are "brand new", the girl has presumably either lost her key, or the boy of the song is now in possession of it, the key being "brand new" as well:

I roller skated to your door at daylight [...]
I'm okay alone, but you got something I need.

In an interview with rock music journalist Ray Shasho on July 22, 2013, Melanie described what she claimed was the inspiration of "Brand New Key" ... "I was fasting with a twenty seven day fast on water. I broke the fast and went back to my life living in New Jersey and we were going to a flea market around six in the morning. On the way back …and I had just broken the fast, from the flea market, we passed a McDonalds and the aroma hit me, and I had been a vegetarian before the fast. So we pulled into the McDonalds and I got the whole works … the burger, the shake and the fries … and no sooner after I finished that last bite of my burger …that song was in my head. The aroma brought back memories of roller skating and learning to ride a bike and the vision of my dad holding the back fender of the tire. And me saying to my dad …“You’re holding, you’re holding, you’re holding, right? Then I’d look back and he wasn’t holding and I’d fall. So that whole thing came back to me and came out in this song."[2]

Controversy[edit]

Many listeners detect sexual innuendo in the lyrics, with the key in its lock thought to symbolize sexual intercourse, or in phrases such as "I go pretty far" and "I've been all around the world".

Melanie has acknowledged the possibility of detecting sexual innuendo in the song, without confirming or denying the intent:

Selected list of recorded versions[edit]

Parodies and other versions[edit]

The song was used prominently for the movie Evil Aliens.

References in popular culture[edit]

Melanie's version is heard in the 1997 music Boogie Nights as Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) has his "audition" with Rollergirl (Heather Graham) in front of Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds).[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1972
  2. ^ "The Classic Rock Music Reporter: ‘Melanie’ Safka Exclusive: "My Mother Drove Me To Woodstock" (Part 1)". Retrieved 16 Jan 2014. 
  3. ^ ""Brand New Key" - Melanie". Superseventies.com. Retrieved 2014-03-27. 
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 327. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  5. ^ Pan's Labyrinth parody song at YouTube
  6. ^ Jodie Humphries. "Gig Reviews - Bowling For Soup / A / Forever The Sickest Kids /". Live Music Scene. Retrieved 2014-03-27. 
  7. ^ Video on YouTube
  8. ^ Video on YouTube
  9. ^ Boogie Nights soundtrack listing and review by Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine http://www.allmusic.com/album/boogie-nights-original-soundtrack-mw0000027564 Retrieved 3/30/14.
Preceded by
"Family Affair" by Sly & the Family Stone
Billboard Hot 100 number one single (Melanie version)
December 25, 1971 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
"American Pie" by Don McLean
Preceded by
"No Charge" by J. J. Barrie
UK number one single (Wurzels version)
June 12, 1976 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"You to Me Are Everything" by The Real Thing