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Category Archives: power pop


Through a chain of coincidences we may never appreciate, we were offered tickets to see Paul Collins performing in Springfield by people who didn’t know who Paul Collins was when we didn’t even know he was playing Springfield. Thus the “power pop curse” was undermined as the gravity of this magnetic songwriter drew us into the seedy heart of the state capitol.

Bet you’re wondering: Did he play “Hanging on the Telephone?”
Did he!

Songs about rockets! Blast off!



Actually a song about a car, not a rocket, but forward-looking nonetheless.

13 September 2010: Doug Hoepker joins us to play more than twenty power pop classics, launching his new online collaborative mix project Mixtured. 20 rock geeks each selected a song from the power pop idiom, and we manage to spin most of them. A massive collaboration.

Cristy’s pick for the mix and what she wrote about it:

Material Issue, “Renee Remains The Same”

I always think of power pop as a rock junkie’s amazing discovery. The bands seem to shine in eras in which they’re most unfashionable. The prog-drenched ’70s: Oh my gosh, there’s this band, Big Star, who sound like the Beatles! The synthy ’80s: Whoa, there’s this band, the dB’s, who sound like Big Star! The autotune-crazy ’00s: Sweet, there’s this band, Generationals, who sound like the dB’s!

In the early ’90s, it was Material Issue, who sounded like Cheap Trick. Most late Friday nights in junior high, I watched MTV, slogging through videos by Queensryche, Poison, and Cinderella. Cut to a black-and-white video featuring lanky clean-cut boys with a singer in a striped t-shirt who played a jangly guitar and sung with a (fake) English accent. I got the cassette as fast as I could, memorizing every two-minute song, every shout-along chorus about girls. Then a few years later, as it happens with these bands, Material Issue were gone. “But melodies, harmonies, and skinny ties never die. They’ll be back up when the pretty blue lights come on.

William’s pick for the mix and what he wrote about it:

“And Your Bird Can Sing,” The Jam

“Powerpop?” I asked, “what’s that?” He didn’t answer right away. Smoothing his moustache as he put the top down, tapped the cassette into the dash, and dropped the convertible into gear.  Easing out of the parking lot, slowing to admire the waitresses on roller skates, he checked his sunglasses in the rearview mirror, and said, “It all starts with the Beatles.” I sense we are in for a long ride.

One facet of the Beatles is a preverb of powerpop, except the Beatles escaped the curse of obscurity, that bad paradox by which songs crafted to be so commercially perfect, pleasing, single-sized, compressed, and seemingly radio-friendly are resigned to the box of shrugs, not played in the sports car but left in the garage to be rediscovered at the yard sale by people like us. So I choose this cover, one degree removed from the Fab Four. No disrespect intended. To me the song has the characteristics of my favorite gems of the genre: an overly melodic guitar line (more net than hook—I’m thinking “Shake Some Action,” “Baby Blue,” “Starry Eyes”), a certain bratty exuberance to the lyrics, and, of course, those loud lollipop vocals: if it’s worth singing, it’s worth harmonizing.

Cristy and I have had five radio shows so far, and we’re hitting our stride.

January 3: Power pop
January 10: Worst guitar solos ever
January 17: Covers
January 24: Songs less than two minutes in length

Although Cristy and I had to resort to sound-collage, we were able to use almost everybody’s suggestions for the radio show featuring songs that refer to their bands by name. Except for Zach’s, and he wins the Golden Geek of the Week Award for naming a song I had never heard of and couldn’t find: “Black ’47.” Scott listened online and said the music was “baaaad,” and, as much as I relish arguing with Scott, I have a nagging suspicion that he may have a point. Beefheart’s “The Blimp” (suggested by Mark E. Nslin) caused a bit of on-air friction between the two hosts. Even 15 seconds of “Iron Maiden” by Iron Maiden was way too much for me.

Suggestions are welcome. Here’s what we have so far.


Monochrome Set
Jocko Homo (Are We Not Men?)
Give it to the Soft Boys
Big Country
Talk Talk
Have a Cigar
Belle & Sebastian/My Wandering Days Are Over
In the Court of the Crimson King
Red Hot Chili Peppers [song off the first album]
Clash City Rockers
Black Sabbath
Chaka Khan
Mommy, What’s a Funkadelic? (does it really say the word?)
Killer Queen
They Might be Giants
Wang Chung
Who Are You?
Wonder Boy
Show Biz Kids

This show is now online.

What is Power Pop?

Listen as Cristy explains the difference and spins crunchy earcandy.

Our first radio show together, at the numbingly early hour (for us) of 8 a.m. Saturday. You can hear the pain and trepidation in our voice, but none of that is to be heard in this explosive mix of Power Pop classics.

Listen to the hour-long MP3 online.

644_44456488370_5329_nRevolver vs. Sgt. Pepper? We’re still fighting…