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"Brand New Key"
Song by Melanie

from the album Gather Me

Released 1971
Genre Folk, folk pop, pop
Length 2:26
Label Neighborhood Records
Composer Melanie Safka
Producer Peter Schekeryk

"Brand New Key" is a pop song written by folk singer Melanie (Melanie Safka), which became a novelty hit in 1971-72. Taken from Melanie's album Gather Me, it was also known as "The Rollerskate Song". It was her biggest hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in December 1971 and January 1972. It reached #1 in Canada and Australia, and #4 in the UK charts. Melanie's version of "Brand New Key" was featured in the 1997 film Boogie Nights.

Contents

Overview

The song is lighthearted in tone, sung from the viewpoint of a girl 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 you see

The rollerskates in question would have been quad skates which fit over ordinary footwear and were tightened with a screw. The girl's skates are presumably adequate, as she is already skating, but not perfect, as she needs the key:

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

Controversy

Many listeners detected innuendo in the lyrics, with the key in its lock symbolizing sexual intercourse, or in phrases like "I go pretty far" and "I been all around the world".

Melanie has acknowledged the possibility of reading sexual innuendo in the song:

"Brand New Key I wrote in about fifteen minutes one night. I thought it was cute; a kind of old thirties' tune. I guess a key and a lock have always been Freudian symbols, and pretty obvious ones at that. There was no deep serious expression behind the song, but people read things into it. They made up incredible stories as to what the lyrics said and what the song meant. In some places, it was even banned from the radio. My idea about songs is that once you write them, you have very little say in their life afterward. It's a lot like having a baby. You conceive a song, deliver it, and then give it as good a start as you can. After that, it's on its own. People will take it any way they want to take it."[1]

Selected list of recorded versions

Parodies and other versions

In 1976, the parody song "Combine Harvester (Brand New Key)", produced by Bob Barrett, was released in the UK by West Country comedy folk act The Wurzels and reached #1 for two weeks in June. New rustic-themed lyrics by Brendan O'Shaughnessy included "I got a brand new combine harvester An' I'll give you the key". The song was used prominently in the film Evil Aliens.

Following the January 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan, a parody of "Brand New Key" circulated on radio stations. The parody featured lyrics from Tonya Harding's point of view, and included the chorus,

I've got a brand new pair of figure skates,
You've got a busted knee;
They're gonna lock up my ex-husband and throw away the key

Minnie Driver parodied the song[2] at the Spirit Award 2007. The song's lyrics were changed in order to mock the film, Pan's Labyrinth.

Pro-IRA music group the Irish Brigade recorded a song titled "Kinky Boots" that disparaged British forces in Northern Ireland. This song is sung to the tune of "Brand New Key", with lyrics such as "I drove my Saracen through your garden last night" replacing "I rollerskated to your door at daylight."

References

  1. ^ Brand New Key from the Super Seventie Rocksite
  2. ^ Pan's Labrinth parody song
Preceded by
"Family Affair" by Sly & the Family Stone
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
(Melanie version)

December 25, 1971
Succeeded by
"American Pie" by Don McLean
Preceded by
"No Charge" by J.J. Barrie
UK number one single
(Wurzels version)

June 12, 1976 for two weeks
Succeeded by
"You to Me Are Everything" by The Real Thing







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