Brand New Key
|"Brand New Key"|
|Single by Melanie|
|from the album Gather Me|
|B-side||"Some Say (I Got Devil)"|
|Melanie singles chronology|
"Brand New Key" is a pop song written and sung by folk music singer Melanie. Initially a track of Melanie's album Gather Me, produced by Melanie's husband Peter Schekeryk, 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. It also scored No. 1 in Canada and Australia and No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart.
The song is sung from the viewpoint of a girl with roller skates trying to attract the attention of a boy.
In an interview with Examiner.com, Melanie described what she claimed was the inspiration for the song: "I was fasting with a 27-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 McDonald's and the aroma hit me, and I had been a vegetarian before the fast. So we pulled into the McDonald's 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."
Melanie has acknowledged the possibility of detecting sexual innuendo in the song, without confirming or denying the intent:
[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.
Selected list of recorded versions
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- 1971 Ray Conniff And The Singers, on the album I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing.
- 1995 Sharon, Lois & Bram, on the album Let's Dance!
- 1996 Rasputina, on the album Thanks for the Ether.
- 1998 Deana Carter, on the album Everything's Gonna Be Alright.
- 2006 Robinella, on the album Solace for the Lonely.
- 2007 The Dollyrots, on the album Because I'm Awesome.
- 2009 Katharine McPhee, on the album Unbroken.
- 2012 Olivia Newton-John, on the album A Few Best Men (soundtrack).
Parodies and other versions
- A version of the song entitled "Combine Harvester", with new rustic-themed lyrics by Irish songwriter Brendan O'Shaughnessy (including "I've got a brand new combine harvester An' I'll give you the key"), was recorded by Irish comedian Brendan Grace, whose version scored No. 1 on the Irish Charts during 1975. For the UK Singles Chart, West Country comedy folk act The Wurzels scored No. 1 for two weeks during June 1976 with a version of this.
- After 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."
- The song was used prominently in the 2005 movie Evil Aliens.
- With lyrics describing Best Film nominee Pan's Labyrinth, Minnie Driver sang a parody of the song at the 2007 Spirit Awards ("I blew a giant frog to smithereens, I got his golden key").
- An Irish Republican parody of the song entitled "Kinky Boots" was released by The Davitts on their 2011 album Celtic Anthems.
References in popular culture
Melanie's version is heard in the 1997 film Boogie Nights as Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) has his "audition" with Rollergirl (Heather Graham) in front of Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds). The song is also played in Jackass 3-D during the "Bungee Boogie" stunt skit (in which the cast members use bungee cords, skateboards and a ramp to slingshot into a kiddie pool). On April 4, 2016, Jimmy Fallon lip synced the song during a "Lip Sync Battle" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, while he competed with actress Melissa McCarthy.
On the October 17, 2016, episode of singing competition television show The Voice, Team Miley (Cyrus) contestants Darby Walker and Karlee Metzger performed the song in a Battle round. Despite coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Alicia Keys all preferring Metzger's vocal performance, Cyrus chose to name Walker the winner of the Battle. Shortly after, Metzger was stolen onto Team Blake, saving her from elimination.
The original version also appears in the 2016 Hallmark TV movie Signed sealed delivered from the heart.
The original version appears in episode 1 of the first season of the 2017 Australian television series Sisters, as the viewer is initially introduced to Julia, one of the main characters.
In the first online episode of the Comeback Stage of the singing competition television show The Voice, no-chair reject Klea Olson performed the song as part of a Battle round against fellow Team Bebe (Rexha) members Nathan and Chesi Arnett, who performed the song "Tulsa Time." It was not enough for Rexha to choose to advance her to the next round in the Comeback Stage, as Olson was eliminated when Rexha chose Nathan & Chesi as the winners instead.
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