Brand New Key

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"Brand New Key"
Melanie Brand New Ky.jpg
Single by Melanie
from the album Gather Me
B-side "Some Say (I Got Devil)"
Released October 1971
Genre Folk, pop
Length 2:26
Label Neighborhood
Songwriter(s) Melanie Safka
Producer(s) Peter Schekeryk
Melanie singles chronology
"Ruby Tuesday"
"Brand New Key"
"The Nickel Song"

"Ruby Tuesday"
"Brand New Key"
"The Nickel Song"

"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 was featured in the 1997 movie Boogie Nights as well as the 2010 movie Jackass 3D and an episode of Helix.


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, 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."[1]


Many listeners[who?] 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". Another common viewpoint on the song, is that the song is clearly an innocent reflection upon the typical workings of a child's mind regarding their possessions (In this case, quad skates and the associated key essential for tightening/loosening a locking clamp on the skates).

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.[2]


Selected list of recorded versions[edit]

Parodies and other versions[edit]

  • 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.[17]
  • 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").[18]

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).[19] 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.[20]

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 appears in season one of the FX show The Bridge, as the character Daniel Frye flushes his supply of drugs and alcohol.

The original version also appears in the 2016 Hallmark TV movie: "Signed sealed delivered from the heart".

During the 16th Season of American Idol, contestant Maddie Poppe performed the song during the Top 24 elimination round.[21]


  1. ^ Ray Shahso (August 12, 2013). "The Classic Rock Music Reporter: 'Melanie' Safka Exclusive: "My Mother Drove Me To Woodstock" (Part 1)". Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  2. ^ ""Brand New Key" - Melanie". Retrieved 2014-03-27. 
  3. ^ a b Steffen Hung. "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Archived from the original on 2016-06-02. Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  4. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 
  5. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Brand New Key". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  6. ^ "Dutch Top 40 - Melanie, Brand New Key". 
  7. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "MELANIE". 
  10. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 161. 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "Songs from the Year 1972". 
  13. ^ 1972_in_British_music#Best-selling_singles
  14. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1972/Top 100 Songs of 1972". 
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-22. Retrieved 2015-05-21. 
  16. ^ Maclean's Magazine November 6, 1995. Vol. 108, Iss. 45; pg. 72. "Let's Dance by Sharon, Lois & Bram". Chisholm, Patricia.
  17. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 327. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  19. ^ Boogie Nights soundtrack listing and review by Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine Retrieved 3/30/14.
  20. ^ Lip Sync Battle with Melissa McCarthy. YouTube. April 4, 2016. 
  21. ^ American Idol (2018-04-15), Maddie Poppe Sings "Brand New Key" by Melanie - Top 24 Solos - American Idol 2018 on ABC, retrieved 2018-04-26