The energy of punk rock, and the melodicism of the above-average pop song. Beatlesque harmonies earn bonus points. First found in some garage bands of the 60s, who lacked the finesse of The Beatles, but made up for it in Who-like aggresssion. Underground bands of the 70s referred to this strain of rock about as much as they harkened back to The Stooges or New York Dolls, and even the unhip-in-its-day bubblegum pop of Kasanetz and Katz became an influence. The Flamin' Groovies and Blondie are two of many examples, but most such bands were generic new wave.

"Oh my God, what's that song? I'm in love with that song!" - The Replacements, "Alex Chilton"

Just what is power pop? Well, most recently, it's been bands like Sloan and Superdrag, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and Weezer. Because mainstream pop has deviated into the manufactured pop (or "studio pop") of Britney Spears et al., and the angst pop of bands like Linkin Park, power pop is now predominantly in the indie rock arena. And while there is a lot of indie pop that isn't power pop (like Magnetic Fields and The Microphones), there's another serious strain that is (like, say, most Yo La Tengo and new bands like Saturday Looks Good To Me). There are also occassional power-poppers that slip into the bigtime, like the aforementioned Weezer and Maroon 5. Confused yet?

While the roots of power pop run from jump blues through the British Invasion, the first band to really get called power pop was Big Star.
A band from Memphis, Big Star was playing Southern-tinged rock in the early '70s, when bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd dominated the charts. Largely ignored at the time, Big Star would go on to be one of those bands that no one listened to at the time, but who influenced a generation.
Mainly a songwriting collaboration between Chris Bell and Alex Chilton (formerly of the Box Tops, where he had a hit with "The Letter" at 16), Big Star combined glowing harmonies with Velvet Underground covers and the driving power of Southern rock and roll with the beauty of Beatles-esque pop.

Around this time, Jonathan Richman started his band, the Modern Lovers. Best known for their hit "Roadrunner," the Modern Lovers also included a young Jerry Harrison, now better known for his work in the Talking Heads. Richman's music (or Richman himself) has been featured in movies like Repo Man and There's Something About Mary, and Roadrunner was one of the songs covered by the Sex Pistols at their last show ever.
The lines between what would become punk and what would become power pop were blurred at the beginning, with bands like the Ramones essentially updating '60s bubblegum pop (so called because of the 1910 Fruitgum Company) with more energy and subversive lyrics. However, the essential distinction between punk and power pop is that power pop is generally not as nihilistic as punk. In the current climate, however, bands like Blink 182 get labeled pop punk for coming from a tattooed background, instead of being called power pop based on their music. C'est la vie.

Power pop reached its commercial peak with a band from Chicago called Cheap Trick. Best known for their incredibly successful album "Live at Budokan," Cheap Trick had a massive run of hits, including "I Want You to Want Me," and "Surrender." The "cheap trick" incidently, was guitarist Rick Neilson's close resemblence to nurse killer Richard Speck.

Power pop truly arrived in the '80s, with the anger of punk tapering off into the commercial success of New Wave. Bands like Talking Heads, the Pretenders, and the Soft Boys all had hits on the radio and MTV. The Soft Boys, including guitarist Robyn Hitchcock, were emblematic of the power pop scene's ultimate emergence with their revamped psychedelics on the album "Underwater Moonlight."
And then, there's The Cars. Now famed as a producer, including Weezer's "Green Album," Rick Ocasek's band pulled nine top ten hits off of their 1978 debut. If you want to hear power pop in your head, just think of "Just What I Needed."

For better or worse, grunge killed power pop's mainstream (along with hair metal). Bands like Superdrag and The Figgs were picked up then dumped by major labels in a scramble for "alternative." From there, it's been a long road back for lovers of power pop.

Most of the progress has been made on the independent front, with artists like Ted Leo garnering critical respect and respectable sales. Still, there have been breakthrough artists like Weezer and The Flaming Lips who have reminded millions that pop can still pack a punch.

Important albums to be added in a seperate entry.

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