What’s power pop, you ask? It’s ridiculously radio-friendly hooks and close vocal harmonies, mixed with a hefty dose of Marshall stacks and relentless four-on-the-floor beat. Perfect for music fans who like a little sugar in their rock! The genre has its roots in the British Invasion sound of the mid-sixties, borrowing heavily from The Who and The Beatles, as well as Americans, The Byrds. Following the demise of the Fab Four at the start of the ’70s, a host of new groups hoping to carry the pop torch amped up their jangling Rickenbacker 12-strings and made a bid for Billboard glory. Only a few made it, but the music that came out of the power pop golden era (1973-1982) is still among the catchiest ever committed to wax.
Read on for 20 essential power pop tracks that will be lodged in your brain for the rest of your life. Overly commercial? Maybe. Guilty pleasures? Possibly. But you’ll be singing right along, we guarantee it! Be warned: This ear candy is so sweet, you’re going to have to brush your speakers before bedtime.
20. “So It Goes” by Nick Lowe (1978)
The British pub-rocker had scored previous hits during his stint in Brinsley Shwartz, recording the original version of Elvis Costello’s “What So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love And Understand.” That tune is power pop to the max, but Nick’s solo debut Jesus Of Cool brought out even bigger guns like “Little Hitler”, “Roller Show” and this cut.
19.“Abracadabra (Have You Seen her?)” by Blue Ash (1973)
This band straight outta Youngstown, Ohio anticipated the raw energy of Cheap Trick a few years early. Like a garage freak-beat band that recently bought amps, this stomper is just one of many great cuts from their excellent first album, No More, No Less. Despite boasting catchy riff-heavy songs and opening for The Stooges, Bob Seger, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, they didn’t match the success of Badfinger, The Raspberries, and other power-pop brethren.
18. “Black And White” by The dBs (1981)
You could pick pretty much any cut from their jangley debut Stands For Decibels and stick it on this list. Chris Stamey and Will Rigby, formerly of power poppers Sneakers, teamed up with Peter Holsapple in the early ’80s for a southern-friend sound. The dynamic tension between Stamey’s avante-garde style and Holsapple’s shimmering guitar work made for an interesting sweet-and-salty (or black and white) blend that has become a cult favorite. For many, they are the definitive power pop band.