Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Power pop
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Power pop

Power pop is a musical genre that draws its inspiration from 1960s British and American pop music. Lyrically, power-pop songs mostly confine themselves to the eternal subject of romantic love, and musically the style is characterized by strong melodies, prominent guitars, and formal concision, with solos being kept to a minimum.

The term seems to have been coined in an interview with Pete Townshend of The Who in the mid-1960s. However, the Everly Brothers were playing music that can be called power pop as early as 1965; their "I'll See Your Light" displays jangling guitars and an oblique harmonic approach that built upon the innovations of The Beatles and The Byrds. And while The Beatles, The Byrds and The Who are often cited as the progenitors of power pop, these groups never confined themselves to the strict elements of the style. The groups who arose in the wake of the Beatles' success are also important in the evolution of the style--the Left Banke, The Beau Brummels, The Knickerbockers and The Zombies.

Modern power pop begins in the late '60s with the first recordings of the Flamin' Groovies and Badfinger. Badfinger singles such as "No Matter What," "Baby Blue" and "Day After Day," all recorded around 1970, are the template for the power pop that followed. In the early '70s the form became codified through the work of The Raspberries, Big Star, Blue Ash, Dwight Twilley and Todd Rundgren. At this stage power-pop groups were nearly all American, and the first albums by Big Star and the Raspberries are still considered among the essential recordings in the genre.

Although Rundgren and the Raspberries achieved some chart success during this period, Big Star was essentially unknown. It was not until later in the '70s that power pop enjoyed a renaissance; the dB's, the Records, Cheap Trick, the Knack, 20/20 and the Shoes all drew upon the innovations of earlier groups, and the Knack's "My Sharona," although a simplified version of the more nuanced style evinced by the "classic" power-pop groups, was a major hit. The Flamin' Groovies, whose 1969 LP Supersnazz had contained both power pop in embryo and stylized reworkings of '50s rock and roll, turned decisively to the style in 1976 with songs like "Shake Some Action" and "You Tore Me Down." Nick Lowe recorded many songs in the power-pop vein, including the 1979 hit single "Cruel to Be Kind."

In the 1980s and 1990s power pop continued to be a viable, though somewhat uncommercial genre, as artists such as Marshall Crenshaw (whose first two albums are considered classics of the genre), Matthew Sweet. Teenage Fanclub, Material Issue, The Posies and Jellyfish drew inspiration from Big Star, the Beatles, and glam rock groups of the early 1970s like T. Rex and Sweet. Power pop eventually broke into the mainstream more than ever before with the success of Weezer in the mid-'90s. Certain 1990s acts not associated with the genre, like Nirvana and Oasis, bore definite signs of its influence, which continues today with acts like Jet and The Vines. Another group influenced by power-pop was The Shazam, whose songs were reminiscent of those of Badfinger, the Move and 10cc.

See also: List of power pop musicians

> {| id="toc" style="margin: 0 2em 0 2em;" Rock and roll | Rock genres Garage rock | Glam rock | Glitter rock | Hard rock | Heartland rock | Instrumental rock | Jangle pop | Post-rock | Power pop | Psychedelia | Pub rock (Aussie) | Pub rock (UK) | Rock en español; | Soft rock | Southern rock | Surf Blues-rock | Country rock | Folk-rock | Progressive rock | Rockabilly Japanese rock | Kiwi rock