June 7, 2010

Michael Chabon on Power Pop

Here's a nice bit from novelist Michael Chabon's review of a compilation album from the American early 1970s power pop band Big Star, whose singer Alex Chilton died recently. "Power pop" is a term coined by Pete Townshend of the Who in 1967 to denote their early Beatles-influenced hit singles like Can't Explain and The Kids Are Alright: big, jangly electric guitars, melodic hooks, supporting vocal harmonies, and a fast backbeat. On paper, it always sounded like a surefire winner as a genre that would appeal to both sexes. After 1970, however, that seldom worked out as planned, and power pop became largely a nerd niche:
Finally, power pop at its purest is the music of hit records that miss. Pick up any of Not Lame’s International Pop Overthrow collections, or the numerous sets that Rhino has issued over the years—Shake Some Action and Come Out and Play, or the three volumes of Poptopia—and you will find that from about 1970, when Badfinger released the first true power-pop record, “No Matter What” (which admittedly went to #8 on the U.S. chart), an astonishing amount of effort and genius and chops has been expended by the practitioners of power pop to create a large number of equally well-crafted, tightly played, buoyant-yet-wrenching surefire hit songs that went nowhere, moved no units, never made it out of the band’s hometown, or came heartbreakingly close to Hugeness before sinking, like The Records’ “Starry Eyes” or Bram Tchaikovsky’s “Girl of My Dreams,” back into the obscurity that is the characteristic fate of all great power pop.

That's largely true. Consider the song Chabon cites as the genre's most perfect representative -- Big Star's 1974 single "September Gurls." I had never heard it until today, although I would have loved it had I heard it in 1979. I saw Bram Tchaikovsky in Houston in 1979 or 1980 and I couldn't understand why they were being played only on Rice U.'s 50 watt radio station instead of on a 50,000 watt AM Top 40 powerhouse. 

On the other hand, there's also a selection effect. Popular pop bands can't be power pop. The Cars, for example, were immediate hits (here's 1979's "My Best Friend's Girl") so they don't figure in power pop's tragic mythology. In real life, unlike in his songs, Cars lead singer Ric Ocasek always got the girl, having six sons by his three wives, the last of whom, Paulina Porizkova, was the first of the Slavic supermodels.

The surest test of a selection effect is how Cheap Trick went from power pop loser legends to just another big time rock band over the course of 1978. Cheap Trick's 1977 album In Color was praised in the press as a power pop classic for about a year because it was this wonderfully commercial record that nobody bought. In the fall of 1978, I went with some Rice friends to see Cheap Trick open for Foreigner at a Houston hockey rink. We got bored with Foreigner, and as we were walking out through the parking lot, we ran into Cheap Trick's drummer Bun E. Carlos looking for his car, alone. We told him him how great he was and he was very gracious. He told us to look out for their upcoming live album on import vinyl from Japan. 

I tried to sound optimistic about its fate as I promised him I'd buy it, but I felt sad for Cheap Trick. They were this hugely entertaining band with a sound that, in theory, ought to appeal to tens of millions of people; but almost nobody cared, and they were reduced to telling Rice geeks in a parking lot to keep an eye out for their import album from Japan. It was sad. But, it was also cool, because me and my friends knew Cheap Trick were this great power pop band, and the fewer people who realized that, the cooler it was (for us, not for them.)

A few weeks later, Cheap Trick at Budokan showed up in Houston's underground record collector store. It was this insane, almost unlistenable LP of pubescent Japanese girls screaming over the top of Cheap Trick, like the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.

And ... Budokan quickly became a gigantic hit all across America. Cheap Trick then returned with the studio version of their greatest song, "Surrender," and headlined hockey rinks for a number of years. 

But, selling 20,000,000 albums meant Cheap Trick couldn't be in the power pop pantheon of futility anymore, so Chabon leaves them out of his retrospective.

51 comments:

Whiskey said...

The Replacements? They were explicitly modeled after Chilton/Big Star, and even wrote a song named after him.

X had some punk-flavored power-pop songs. Wall of Voodoo had the same only with synths instead of guitars. The B-52s?

Jeff said...

Cheap Trick is a great band. But for having a lot of success and influencing some top bands, Cheap Trick has had an awkward journey.

Although they are still around today, Cheap Trick has gone years not knowing what musical direction to pursue. I guess it's part of the curse of being a power pop band.

Ronnie V said...

And ... Budokan quickly became a gigantic hit all across America. Cheap Trick then returned with the studio version of their greatest song, "Surrender," and headlined hockey rinks for a number of years.

Cheap Trick's "Golden Era" didn't last very long. I saw them open for Cinderella and Ratt in Jacksonville back in '85, which is kind of a step or two down from opening for Foreigner in Houston.

They made a minor come back in '88 when they scored a hit with one of the lamest songs ever.

I hadn't given them a another thought until I read this post.

Jackson said...

Normally Steve is well-plugged into all things Los Angeles, but somehow he managed to write a fantastic post about power pop that does not mention The Plimsouls!

Anonymous said...

Eddie and the Hot Rods 'do anything you wanna do'
The Records "Starry Eyes"
Rockpile "Girls Talk"

Memories, sweet memories..

Garland said...

If you plan on making Chabon your new Gladwell, that is very funny and I heartily endorse.

agnostic said...

He left out the girl groups like the Go-Go's and the Bangles (who covered "September Gurls"). More prejudice against anyone who made it onto MTV.

Still, he's given a helpful way to measure how good the musical zeitgeist is -- how common is the sense of yearning? Doesn't have to be in everywhere, but can't be absent either (in which case it sounds soulless.)

When was the last time there was a keen feeling of yearning or desire in pop music? Judging by lists of "top power-pop songs," it was 1990 or 1991 with The La's or Matthew Sweet. After that the songs listed are either goofy like Weezer or too emotionally numb like OK Go.

Same with the pre-rock music of the '40s and '50s -- little sense of urgency. Looks like people will be listening to the late '50s through the very early '90s forever.

Cat Patrol said...

I saw Cheap Trick in concert last year. They really sucked. But at least I expected that they would suck.

As far as the Cars, I always preferred Benjamin Orrs voice over Rick Ocasik.

Ray Midge said...

I think it's fair to say Cheap Trick quickly returned to power-pop futility pretty soon after I want you to want me faded.

I remember hearing She's Tight by those guys, released afterward, thinking it was gonna be big and ... nothing.

Doesn't have the jangly guitars to fit your power pop definition, more fuzz, but still, a sweet little gem that never got its due credit. Shame.

I'd love to see some K-Tel collection of Power Pop tunes that never got their due.

Jeff said...

As Ronnie V notes, Cheap Trick never fully recovered since their god awful song, The Flame.

The problem with power pop bands (The Who included) is that good writing is necessary. If you song writer suddenly goes dry, the band is in for lean times.

I love the Rolling Stones. But like a lot of other bands, they can crank lots of new songs out using simple variations of 3 chords. Keith Richards can make the song sound unique and good by adding a guitar solo. Power pop bands don't really have that luxury.

Saint Louis said...

Having grown up (or at least reached the age of majority) in the '90s, I'd have to go with Fountains of Wayne. They had one big hit ("Stacy's Mom"), but never anything else.

Of course, much better was their song "Red Dragon Tattoo" and their cover of Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time."

jody said...

interesting story about cheap trick. once in a while i find it interesting to think back on times which i lived through and recall just how uncertain the future actually was. the future of now legendary events which are long past and known for certain.

i recall the 1980 steelers-rams superbowl as it was in the middle of happening. of course the steelers were going to win and chuck noll was going to go 4 for 4 - looking backwards from 2010.

in 1980, watching on the television, there was a real chance the rams were going to win the game and chuck noll was going to have a 3 for 4 record in the big game. the steelers were in the same position as the patriots in the 08 patriots-giants superbowl. i'm totally confident every patriots fan knew for sure the patriots were gonna win that game and bill belichick was going to go 4 for 4. until they didn't win, and history was set in stone.

i also remember in 1986, when high schoolers were excited to see what metallica did after ride the lightning. of course they were going to write and record the best heavy metal album of all time - looking back on it from 2010. except in the months of waiting in 1986, it was totally and completely not certain at all what the next metallica album would sound like.

"Probably really good" and "Probably heavy!" were as accurate as the guesses got. the only thing that was certain in 1986 was that people were mostly looking forward to the new metallica album more than the new judas priest album. iron maiden was the established champion of heavy metal and obviously nothing metallica was going to release would be quite as good as what the champ could do.

and then master of puppets came out and it positively obliterated anything judas priest or iron maiden had ever done. it smashed their peak efforts, their "prime" albums, into oblivion. the legend of metallica was established in one single album release. metallica toured with ozzy osbourne that year and people were more excited for metallica. they leapfroged the existing legend in 1 year.

DCThrowback said...

That "minor" hit by Cheap Trick managed to hit #3 on Casey Kasem's Weekly Top #40.

I will say there is something reassuring about seeing elite musical opinion from 30-40 years ago mirrored by today's elite opinion. Consistency is nice. Sites like Pitchfork Media, Paste Magazine and Onion's AV Club replicate the same sorts of adoration for discovering and loving music that just doesn't have commercial success. They are happy targeting 15% of the public that interested in this kind of music. The explosion of the internet has allowed elites to congregate and commiserate like nothing ever before. You'd think that would lower societal alienation, but what do I know?

Also: here's a link to my favorite Plimsouls song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIxgBMNhsKU Great hooks!

Anonymous said...

"Surrender" is one of the best rock-n-roll songs ever recorded. "Got my Kiss records out" is one of the best lines. So good.

Louise Gay said...

When I hear the phrase, power pop, AC/DC comes to mind but...

Kevin B said...

Plimsouls need mention. My favorites from the late 70s were Squeeze, and Nick Lowe/Dave Edmunds/Rockpile. One tight song after another (not to mention producing Elvis Costello) and very little recognition.

Cruel To Be Kind

Carlene Carter, real life wife of Nick Lowe and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash, is the bride in the video. Can't say there's much of a resemblance to mother Maybelle.

Matra said...

Weren't the 1990s a big power pop period? My view may be distorted by living on campus then but bands like Wilco and the Lemonheads seemed huge.

Do Britpop bands like Kula Shaker and The Stone Roses count as power pop?

BTW Cheap Trick had a minor hit in the mid-80s called "Tonight It's You".

Anonymous said...

When are we gonna have an American Idol thread here? OK, I'll start one. The last three winners have what in common? White guys from Middle America, nice white guys. The teenage girl effect is often cited, but it's, er, nice to see nice guys still finishing first in our demonic society.

There seems to be a trend of female participants showing up for auditions looking determinedly unattractive, then whoring it up a wee bit as the show progresses and they realize they've got a chance. The Crystal girl who almost won this year looked like a panhandler. Quite a story there.

Oh, single moms? If you want to do something nice for your son, please, don't get a tattoo of his name; consider removing your tattoos. One finalist this year (Siobhan) had a heart with an x through it. She's 20. How do you explain to your kid that tattoo? Should people with that tattoo even be let near children?

Ellen was unbearable to watch, openly perving on 16 year old girls, favouring girls (they divided them into girls and boys this year, sort of like high school), and making one poor girl sing a song with gender bending lyrics. Some are claiming she's the cause for low ratings, the Usual Suspects are up on their hind legs denying it, but, fuck, she looks like a freak, and it is supposed to be a family show.

Didja see guest judge Avril Lavigne ixnay a guy because he's married with kids, suggesting he belongs at home instead of on the road? Not coincidentally, he's a minister, and she happened to be wearing devil horns at the time (seriously).

No Jews left on the judges panel, now that Paula and Simon are gone. It reeked of The Aristocrats, rich Hollywood Jews ridiculing and humiliating the poor young gentiles chasing their dreams.

Marc B said...

Cheap Trick headlined the first concert I attended while they were still in their prime back in '82. Most of the music marketed as New Wave was really just power pop with skinny ties.

In Memphis, everybody knew about Alex Chilton, but no commercial stations played Big Star or Chilton solo material, so it wasn't until one of his many resurgences in the early 2000's that I heard any of that music. In the 1980's, he was lionized by popular college rock bands and critics, but was still thought of as that pissed off former member of the Box Tops in his own hometown. I saw him play live a few times, but I was into punk, metal, and hardcore and far more interested in the coeds hanging out at the bar.

Power pop is still quite popular with the underground rockers that like a little bit of everything. The Exploding Hearts(RIP)are a recent band that gets the most notoriety. Goner Records is label that releases a few new power pop records each year. I'm not fond of the genre, but I really like the following songs:

Badfinger - Baby Blue
Queen - Best Friend
Cheap Trick - Surrender
Cowsills - I'm the One you Need (come around here)
Vapors - Turning Japanese
Nick Lowe - Cruel to be Kind
Buzzcocks - Time's Up & Boredom
Flying Lizards - Money

12 String Jangle said...

Never heard Big Star until today either, although many British bands mentioned them in interviews in the early '90s (I used to read NME and Melody Maker religiously.) This is where Scottish band Teenage Fanclub got their style from! Probably never would have heard this without the internet.

Reg Cæsar said...

You hadn't heard September Gurls until now? Bloody hell, I bought it new in 1974. (Thanks to Stereo Review, which in the '70s was more fun to read than 99% of the music was to hear.)

However, I hadn't heard-- nor heard of-- Andy Kim's Rock Me Gently, of the same vintage, until last year. (The Mrs, born after its release, knows it well, though-- its a regular on her mom's oldie station.) It was a shock to see how masculine Mr Kim (a Lebanese Montrealer) really is, considering how Phil Spector aurally castrated him on Baby I Love You five years earlier.

As for Cheap Trick, power-pop futility is apparently hereditary. Check out daughter Holland Zander's 2005 foray thereinto. Chronicles subscribers might enjoy knowing that the produce store on the cover is a short walk from the editorial offices.

Reg Cæsar said...

For the ultimate in power-pop obscurity, try John Lennon's favorite band, Grapefruit, which included a little-known member of that notorious, noisy Young family.

Steve Sailer said...

"12 String Jangle" -- good screen name.

I, personally, can't believe that anybody prefers Bob Dylan's version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" to the Byrds' 12 string electric guitar version, but, evidently, some do.

It would be interesting to figure out what correlates with an appreciation for a particular instrument. Do people who like the sound of 12 string electric guitars, like I do, tend to also like X or Y or Z?

Pandora.com, which has employed professional musicians to classify a vast number of songs by their musical elements, could theoretically provide some interesting data to social scientists.

My guess would be that power pop is kind of beta -- it's music invented by guys who try to rock hard while simultaneously incorporating elements that will appeal to girls: romantic yearning, vocal harmonizing, singable melodies, etc.

It appeals to rock critics (sensitive, intelligent guys) because -- on paper -- it ought to pander to everybody. But it also appeals to rock critics (elitist, nerdy guys) because it has this huge history of seemingly inexplicable failure (as Chabon points out) to wallow and glory in. Power pop seems like it ought to be the heir to t he mainstream of rock history from Elvis's "Don't Be Cruel" through the Beach Boys to the Beatles, but that seldom works out as planned.

Steve Sailer said...

Reg,

I saw Andy Kim on one of those PBS oldies fundraising shows a few years ago doing "Rock Me Gently" and he looked great, although he must have been about 60. (Having taken 20 years off from the music business must have done wonders for him.) He had kind of a Lebanese Neil Diamond thing going -- a show bizzy masculine ultra-confidence -- which works well if you got a song as catchy as Rock Me Gently or Diamond's early stuff (but not so hot when the good songs stop flowing, as happened to Diamond in the 1970s).

justine said...

Don't forget to mention the Romantics. And as a perfect example of the geek theory of power pop probably the greatest power pop band that never made it the Flashcubes from Syracuse NY in the late 70s early 80s. Cristy Girl right up there with September Girl and there is a bunch of other monsters on the CD compilation available on Amazon. The band achie ved some success years later in Japan where it is treated as a big cult influnce. Also let's not forget the Modern Lovers with the song I'm straight the anti "hippy Johnny" anthem.

Kevin B said...

Tom Petty holds a place in there too. Jangling Byrds' guitars, great hooks, melodic and driven by the beat. I wasn't a fan in the late 70s, early eighties as I was more into the punk scene in LA. There was an incredible amount of music making going on in the clubs and most who were paying attention to those small fish considered rising superstars as a crass and a bit boring.

Petty is one the few true rock superstars. Easily accepted into the TWs, Dylan, Harrison, Orbison and the rest, his band bridged generations with a straddling of sixties rock and new wave. He doesn't fit completely into the power pop niche. A little too ragged in just the right places, far too known, liked and famous, polished but still heart felt. Yet, all the power pop ingredients are there. He's a true talent and I found respect for his work years after the punk scene deteriorated into useless noise.

agnostic said...

Power pop isn't true beta. It's a "sneaky fucker" style. In nature there aren't just the violent polygynous alpha and the wimpy monogamous beta -- there's also the polygynous pretty boy male.

(In the side-blotched lizard where the "sneaker" strategy is most apparent, the sneakers are yellow like females, allowing them to fly under the violent orange male's radar. So the yellows invade / replace the oranges.)

The polygynous sneaker strategy is to be charming and disarming, rather than amassing a harem by violence or dominance. As you mentioned, Ocasek has 6 kids by 3 wives, including a Czech supermodel. Think of how many groupies the Beatles and the Byrds went through during the '60s. Not beta.

Of course, they'll feel torn-up for sleeping around and express a yearning to return to that special one, but ultimately the power-pop and pretty boy types are heartbreakers. They honestly feel that way, too; it's not a cynical ruse. Some types of female heartbreakers feel sincerely torn up about it too.

The doormat type of guy is going to be more sappy or whiny about girls, like John Mayer. That's true beta music there. And look who he's dated -- hardly anyone other than a much-older Jennifer Aniston, who was already way past whatever her prime value may have been. With no yearning or soul, girls aren't going to melt and welcome him in, so he gets no groupies.

The lead singer of My Chemical Romance is like that too with women. Totally unlike the charming and disarming strategy.

Peter A said...

"September Gurls" was also covered by the Bangles. It's not that obscure, I'm surprised Steve has never heard it. And of course the theme song for the sitcom "That 70's Show" was the Big Star song "In The Street" performed by Cheap Trick - in a nice convergence of 70's power pop.

I like Steve's theory about power pop being "beta" - there's some truth to that. It's often music that's a little too self conscious and too eager too please. This is why AC/DC was not power pop. REM is the only band I can think of that graduated from power pop to mega band, maybe because Michael Stipe is not beta - he really doesn't care what you think and that comes through in his singing.

The 90s was probably the golden age of power pop - Matthew Sweet, Velvet Crush, the Lemonheads, and dozens of others.

Jim O'Sullivan said...

Welcome to Michael Chabon week at iSteve!

As for Mr. Tambourine Man, I loved the Byrds' version till I found out that McGuinn was the only band member to play on it. Now, it sounds synthetic to me.

Anonymous said...

Nothing much to add, except that the first three New Pornographers albums are really awesome Power Pop.

Steve the Conservative Jew said...

Speaking of 70's power bands, how about Grand Funk? Not loved by critics, but managed to fill hockey arenas and baseball stadiums in the early 70's. Had a great run for several years.

Anonymous said...

eels are probably the closest thing to nerdy power pop we have now. They (really he, since it's basically one guy) write poppy, pretty songs but are lauded by rock critic nerds everywhere. Has a very high nerd fan base as well.

Ray Sawhill said...

The Rubinoos were an interesting case -- Berkeley wise-asses whose stage act was a satirical put-on (yet was sweet and engaging anyway). I attended a concert of theirs and the audience was as much into the put-on as the band was -- it was like stepping into a Mad magazine parody of an early Beatles concert, with singalongs, girls shrieking and swooning, the band members each playing a classic junior-high role (the dreamboat, the tall-lanky dumbass ...)

They were good! Even if you chose to take 'em straightfaced, some of the songs were mighty catchy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1PaOziQrzc

If memory serves, they were classified for a while as New Wave, and may even have toured with Jonathan Richman (a special case) -- was there a special sub-subcategory of powerpop that went powerpop>new-wave-ish>humorous/sweet?

Brent Lane said...

Ah, a subject dear to my heart. A nice distraction from the ongoing global death spiral.

I was more than an afficianado of power pop, I was a practitioner, and can attest to the futility of the genre. My bandmates and I also had the misfortune of trying to make a career of music at the exact time that MTV went national around 1983 or so, thus exposing us to seductive influences that ruined our natural power pop/punk style - in fact I can pinpoint the exact moment it happened: when our frontman/guitarist/chief songwriter saw this. Nothing he wrote after that was ever the same.

The key to great power pop, as defined by Chabon, lies in its lack of success. Pete Townshend has said in interviews that he could no longer write the the kind of songs he wrote when The WHO first came out, because after they finally hit it big with Tommy he was no longer a big-nosed, socially awkward loser, he was a Rock Star, and everything he wrote from that point forward was from that perspective.

Power pop does live on in the current day, albeit in a form better suited to the times, wherein its perpetrators can't escape the obvious realization that they are doomed, which takes away the sheen of false optimism of the earlier era. They call it emo.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely no sentimentality here for rock pop music. Rock is dreck. We were bamboozled by the music industry. Me too, I bought all that shit and thought it was important at the time. I played it in bands professionally for decades. It was designed for ignorant non-musical schmucks - like us boomers.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite lyrics from a pop song, from Christie's "Yellow River" (1970)

... put my guns down the war is won, fill my glass high the time has come...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJ5-FoiBuVc

Anonymous said...

Power Pop = music for beta males

Anonymous said...

This article reminded me of a band I haven't even thought of in 30 years, "Shoes"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Opz_drg1O8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9DfyEiw6yM

Anonymous said...

(Cliff Arroyo)

A personal favorite of mine, the power pop anthem I fyou want my love by Cheap Trick.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8qMLWpzwPc

At the time I thought it would go through the roof but it only had middlin' success.

#45 US, #11 US Mainstream Rock, #57 UK, #2 Australia

Anonymous said...

http://www.stylusmagazine.com/articles/on_second_thought/prefab-sprout-two-wheels-good.htm

Rolling Stone magazine once called Prefab Sprout's Paddy McAloon the "last pop genius."

In my experience of being a Prefab Sprout fan these many years, I have noticed one particularly ironic fact: I have never met a single female who likes Prefab Sprout. Truth be told, most every woman I’ve ever played their records for has run screaming from the room, and I’ve gotten similar stories from many of my male friends as well. When I first noticed that trend some 7 or 8 years ago, I remember thinking to myself that it didn’t make sense—the music is insanely catchy, not too “rockist,” and has super-intelligent lyrics. It seemed tailor-made for the intelligent female pop fan. I remember thinking to myself that if only I could find a female Prefab Sprout fanatic... that woman would be the greatest catch ever. She would appreciate great pop music, and by default have a keen insight into the hidden, sensitive depths of the male psyche. If I could find such a woman, I knew I could forge the sort of mature relationship I’d longed for since graduating college—I mean, how could we not have the perfect relationship after all that knowledge that Paddy had dropped on us?

Well, I never did find that mythical female Prefab Sprout fan, although I’m sure she’s out there somewhere. But I’ll say this: The first and only woman I ever met who sat through and actually enjoyed a Prefab Sprout album (I believe it was their debut, Swoon) married me on June 1st, 2002. Thanks, Paddy!

MQ said...

This is kind of weird...I mean what the hell is power pop? Just well written, melodic yet propulsive songs with lots of guitar but not too much of a blues influence? Is Green Day power pop now? Would Vampire Weekend be power pop if they had a few crunchy guitars in the mix?

Anonymous said...

Can't anyone mention Huey Lewis?

poolside said...

Don't forget the Raspberries ... with Eric Carmen on lead vocals. "Go All the Way" is a classic power-pop anthem.

Anonymous said...

Agnostic clearly hasn't followed John Mayer's recent interviews.

Marc B said...

"I mean what the hell is power pop?"

To me, it's a hazy area somewhere in intensity between bubblegum and glam, just less ballsy. And I don't always know it when I hear it.

As far as power pop being music for Beta's, your probably right on the whole, but I've known a surprising number of dominant males comfortable enough with their status to admit to enjoying bubblegum, glam, sunshine pop, and even YeYe. Most fans of the most aggressive noise rock are pathetic wimps.

Anonymous said...

agnostic - The doormat type of guy is going to be more sappy or whiny about girls, like John Mayer. That's true beta music there.

Great! I laughed out loud when I read that.

Anonymous said...

There's a simpler explanation for why the appeal of power pop remained so limited: when played at school dances, it provided neither fast dances nor slow dances -- its rhythms and tempos fall in between -- so all the cool kids no doubt found it useless. This limited its appeal to the types of males who sit around and listen to music instead of playing sports.

blue said...

The Cars:

Benjamin Orr is really really cute. Ric Ocasek, even at 30, is so gross looking. The other guitarist in the band is also cute.

I don't get it. It's Orr who should have had 6 sons by 3 wives, not Ocasek.

I prefer Orr's voice. "Just what I needed" is THE song.

I suppose Ocasek did the songwriting though? Maybe that's what the women were responding to.

justine said...

It was all over for power pop by the second Romantics album. So it all ended by 1982. It is impossible to create the real power pop sound or movement nowadays

Reg Cæsar said...

I saw Andy Kim... Having taken 20 years off from the music business must have done wonders for him.

Not to mention outrageous royalty checks from co-writing Sugar Sugar, the first US-made reggae track to reach #1.

Reg Cæsar said...

He left out the girl groups like the Go-Go's and the Bangles...

The Bangles were the better band, but the Go-Gos had the better songs. Interesting "gender" note: the Bangles covered Katrina's Going Down to Liverpool. That and I'm Walking on Sunshine were written by one Kimberley Rew-- who has to be the last male ever given that name.

Illinois gave us Cheap Trick, Styx, Survivor, Chicago and REO Speedwagon-- whose lead singer Kevin Cronin named his son Paris.

Good for him. Paris has been a boy's name for 8000 years, but try and get that through modern American skulls!

The little black girl ahead of me at the bookmobile tonight mentioned having a sibling named Paris. I didn't dare ask which sex.