Various Artists

Poptopia! Power Pop Classics of the '80s

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Poptopia! Power Pop Classics of the '70s presented the roots of power pop, and its successor, Power Pop Classics of the '80s, finds the genre slowly mutating into a classicist style. In the '80s, power pop didn't have as dedicated an audience as it did in the previous decade (or that it would have in the '90s), and the place to hear catchy guitar pop was in the ringing jangle pop of the American underground. As a result, about half of the bands on this collection -- including Let's Active, the Bangles, the DB's, Tommy Keene, the Smithereens, Hoodoo Gurus, and the La's -- had more in common with jangle pop than power pop, but they shared the same love of the three-minute single and the pure, catchy melody. Also, their presence makes Power Pop Classics of the '80s a bit more diverse than its predecessor, since there's a greater variety of pop styles, from the punchy rock of the Romantics' "What I Like About You" and the British Invasion stylings of the SpongeTones ("She Goes Out With Everybody") to the AOR of Utopia ("Crybaby") and the new wave of Holly & the Italians ("Tell That Girl to Shut Up") and the Plimsouls ("A Million Miles Away"). On the whole, the collection doesn't deliver as many thrills as Power Pop Classics of the '70s, but that's only by a slight margin, since among these 18 tracks are some of the finest pop singles of the '80s.

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