Power Pop For Now People

“Pete Townshend coined the phrase to define what the Who did. For some reason, it didn’t stick to the Who, but it did stick to these groups that came out in the ’70s that played kind of melodic songs with crunchy guitars and some wild drumming.” – Eric Carmen of the group Raspberries #powerpop #rockandroll #guitarrock #classicrock #summermusic #partymusic

WARNING: There are no ballads in this program. Repeat, no ballads.

Power Pop, also sometimes known as Anglophile Rock, became a sub-genre of Rock and Roll in the mid-1960’s. The phrase was created by the aforementioned Townsend, the guitarist and principle songwriter for The Who, in attempting to describe to a journalist what type of music his band played, exemplified in songs like “I Can See For Miles” from 1967.

The Bangles, 1986. (l-r) Vicki Peterson, Debbie Peterson, Susanna Hoffs and Michael Steele. Photo by Raul Vega, courtesy of Sony/BMG.

Though this could describe many of the Mod groups of the Swinging London scene, it also encompassed what we now call “Beatle-esque” music: the sound of the Fab Four’s records from the mid-1960’s, where they went from being teeny-bopper favorites and into something new and original, which gradually stripped away the R&B roots of the original British Invasion bands with an emphasis on guitars, melody, brevity, vocal harmonies and beat-heavy drums.

Cheap Trick, 1978. (l-r) Tom Petersson, Bun E. Carlos, Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen. Photographer unknown, courtesy of Getty Images.

About every ten years, the sound makes a resurgence, but has lately failed to ignite the charts as it once did. In the late 1970’s, however, the sound of Power Pop was the perfect template for a slew of post-Punk acts that weren’t attempting to sound like the heavy rock or metal acts of the day.

Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, live at Coachella, 2005. Photo by Karl Walter/Getty.

Initially, Power Pop was the field of white men. Women eventually put their own stamp on the sound during the New Wave era, inspiring a fresh generation of women rockers, starting off most notably and visibly with Debbie Harry of Blondie.

Much of the sound of Power Pop bands in the last decade have been relegated to what is now called Alternative Rock radio and underground bands.

Material Issue, 1992. (l-r) Jim Ellison, Mike Zelenko and Ted Ansani. Photographer unknown, courtesy of Mercury Records.

Unfortunately, Power Pop has suffered because of the bland sameness of acts on commercial radio, creating a dull, sloppy and pale imitation of what the genre was supposed to be about: stupidly hook-y, insanely catchy, sing-along choruses, short songs, blistering solos, blasting from your car radio with the windows down and the rays of sunshine you feel when in love, because at the end of the day, for the most part, this is souped up boy-meets-girl/girl-leaves-boy/boy-begs-girl-to-come-back music.

The Nazz. (l-r) Carson Von Osten, Robert “Stewkey” Antoni, Todd Rundgren and Thom Mooney, circa 1967. Photo Michael Ochs Archives/Getty.

Most of all, Power Pop is the sound of Summer Rock and Roll fun party music. Or, for those of you who remember the “Rate-A-Record” segment on the television program American Bandstand: It’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it.

First Part

  • What Girls Want, 1992, Material Issue, Destination Universe
  • In Your Room, 1989, The Bangles, Everything
  • Stacy’s Mom, 2003, Fountains of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers
  • Paperback Writer (stereo mix), 1966, The Beatles, single A-side
  • Surrender, 1978, Cheap Trick, Heaven Tonight
  • Baby Blue, 1971, Badfinger, Straight Up
  • Open My Eyes, 1968, Nazz, Nazz
  • Radio Radio, 1978, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, This Year’s Model (U.S.) and single A-side (U.K.)

Second Part

  • Dope Nose, 2002, Weezer, Maladroit
  • Ballad of a Teenage Love Doll, 1984, Redd Kross, Desperate Teenage Love Dolls soundtrack
  • A Million Miles Away, 1982, The Plimsouls, Everywhere at Once
  • Go All The Way, 1972, Raspberries, Raspberries
  • Will Anything Happen?, 1978, Blondie, Parallel Lines
  • Tomorrow Night, 1979, Shoes, Present Tense
  • I’m On Fire (original single mix), 1975, Dwight Twilley Band, single A-side
  • Feel, 1972, Big Star, #1 Record
  • Cruel to Be Kind, 1979, Nick Lowe, Pure Pop for Now People (U.S.)/Jesus of Cool (U.K.)


  • My Sharona (full-length album version), 1979, The Knack, Get The Knack

Love to you all.

Ben “Daddy Ben Bear” Brown Jr. 
Host, Show Producer, Webmaster, Audio Engineer, Researcher, Videographer and Writer

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