Some Timely Thoughts On The Ever-Evolving Genre
I never try to think of bands as power pop; for me, it's all about the song. Big Star is usually classified as power pop, but their songs range is style from "Thirteen" to "Holocaust". About as divergent as it gets. A great song for me just happens to fit what gets labeled as power pop.
My favorite song of 2022 was from a band that is probably considered by most if you listen to their catalog as indie pop or shoegaze (and yes, there's a lot of crossover there with PP) and it's by a San Francisco band, The Umbrellas.
My definition? A ton of "oohs & aahs," soaring riffs, and hooks so sweet you fall into a sugar coma. I also agree with you that it can (should?) be defined on a song by song basis.
Badfinger, The Plimsoles, and Jellyfish...you're speaking my language !! I don't care what genre something is considered, if it's good music, it's good music!,,,
I agree. September Gurls puts a lump in your throat like a junior high crush and that is the key component which attracts me to the PP.
I have a few basic reference points, starting with the ‘70s NYC band the Fast’s definition of power pop as “real rock ‘n’ roll with la la las.” Bomp magazine put out an equation: the punk of the Sex Pistols plus the teen pop of Shaun Cassidy equals the power pop of the early Who.
For me, power pop is something that’s catchy and leans forward instead of strolling. I don’t think it applies to Buddy Holly, it might apply to some Eddie Cochran, and it begins in earnest with “Please Please Me” by the Beatles.
From the 'and another thing' files, it's always struck me that power pop border police are often talking at cross purposes. For some, the emphasis is on POWER pop, thus the focus on slashing guitar chords and lead guitar hooks (e.g. Cheap Trick), while for others the key is power POP, translating into enriched melody and harmonies (e.g. The Raspberries).
Not one mention of Dwight Twilley? His music never fails to please 😁
I think the answer to the age old question, "What makes something power pop and not just melodic, guitar based rock music?" is actually pretty simple. The answer is Keith Moon (cue 'Pictures of Lily').
I try not to ever wade into the Beatles-Kinks-Who (or OK Go/FoW-inspired) genre debates, since popular music is by nature and in practice a connected, derivative, inspirational, and largely nothing-new-under-the-sun art form. (and: "comparisons ARE odious," unless you're a critic or writing catalog copy.)
SO I think Angelo (last name?) of Power Pop Criminals may be the one who said this, and deserves the credit for a concise summation of that thing people love to argue about while they *should* be listening, and playing their instruments :
'Power pop'? You mean, melodic rock'n' roll with sha-la-la's?"
It's also whatever Greg Shaw says / said it is.
I think "No Matter What", "Tonight", "I Wanna Be With You", "Get To Know You" define the power pop sound although there are thousands of songs that fit the genre. Some great power pop songs are not always by power pop bands: STP "Big Bang Baby".
All of the above is 100%
Another great piece Steve. Here's my two cents from a few years back: https://poprockrecord.com/2015/09/27/poprock-versus-power-pop/
Tommy Keene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBkr7rdYd90