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Power Pop

Power Pop is a cross between the crunching hard rock of the Who and the sweet melodicism of the Beatles and Beach Boys, with the ringing guitars of the Byrds thrown in for good measure. Although several bands of the early '70s -- most notably the Raspberries, Big Star, and Badfinger -- established the sound of power pop, it wasn't until the late '70s that a whole group of like-minded bands emerged. Most of these groups modeled themselves on the Raspberries (which isn't entirely surprising, since they were the only power-pop band of their era to have hit singles), or they went directly back to the source and based their sound on stacks of British Invasion records. What tied all of these bands together was their love of the three-minute pop single. Power-pop bands happened to emerge around the same time of punk, so they were swept along with the new wave because their brief, catchy songs fit into the post-punk aesthetic. Out of these bands, Cheap Trick, the Knack, the Romantics, and Dwight Twilley had the biggest hits, but the Shoes, the Records, the Nerves, and 20/20, among many others, became cult favorites. During the early '80s, power pop died away as a hip movement, and nearly all of the bands broke up. However, in the late '80s, a new breed of power pop began to form. The new bands, who were primarily influenced by Big Star, blended traditional power pop with alternative rock sensibilities and sounds; in the process, groups like Teenage Fanclub, Material Issue, and the Posies became critical and cult favorites. While these bands gained the attention of hip circles, many of the original power-pop groups began recording new material and releasing it on independent labels. In the early '90s, the Yellow Pills compilation series gathered together highlights from these re-activated power poppers, as well as new artists that worked in a traditional power-pop vein. Throughout the early and mid-'90s, this group of independent, grass-roots power-pop bands gained a small but dedicated cult following in the United States.