A Journal of Musical ThingsThe History of Power Pop's Early Days - A Journal of Musical Things
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Published on October 13th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

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The History of Power Pop’s Early Days

Alex Chilton and Big StarIf you’re into contemporary bands like OK Go, Sloan, Fountains of Wayne and Jimmy Eat World, then you might be interested in digging into the history of power-pop.  The AV Club offers this primer of the genre’s biggest years, which stretched from 1972 to about 1986.

Power-pop 101
The hooky yet hard-edged, guitar-driven musical style known as power pop didn’t generate spontaneously. There were threads and uprisings—disconnected sounds that later combined into something like a movement—as early as the late ’60s, when some young rock-‘n’-roll fans were already starting to rebel against rock’s increasing pretensions and ponderousness.

The impulse that led to power pop was already alive in the network of collectors of obscure ’60s garage-rock singles, and in the creators of the disreputable pop hits classified as “bubblegum.” Some key songs by Badfinger and The Move were power pop before the genre really existed, and once the sound became more viable and widely imitated, it was easier to trace the roots of the genre back to rockabilly, doo-wop, girl groups, and the early records of The Beatles, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, The Kinks, and The Who.

Power pop evolved throughout the ’70s and early ’80s, running parallel and sometimes absorbing other trends like glam rock, pub rock, punk, new wave, college rock, and neo-psychedelia. 

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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.



One Response to The History of Power Pop’s Early Days

  1. Ryan says:

    I'm glad someone mentioned Jellyfish in the comments. I know the article covers the period up to '86, but Jellyfish's debut in 1990 continues to be revered as one of the great power-pop albums.

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