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MY 250 FAVORITE POWER POP SONGS OF ALL FUCKING TIME

MY 250 FAVORITE POWER POP SONGS OF ALL FUCKING TIME


Cheap Trick

I recently read the book SHAKE SOME ACTION, by John M. Borack, which listed the "Top 200 Power Pop Albums of All Time."  Although Borack’s list was quite a bit different from what mine would be, I enjoyed it immensely, and it inspired me to write a list of my favorite 100 power pop songs… which quickly became my favorite 150 power pop songs… and then my favorite 200…  But I couldn’t leave "Fox on the Run" or Skycyle off my list… so I finally settled on a nice, round 250 songs.  My obsessive compulsion has its advantages.  Well, at least if you’re a power pop fan reading this blog…

"What’s power pop?"

This is the question every person asks me after asking "What type of music are you into?"  There’s been whole books written on the subject, as well as a wonky Wikipedia page, and they don’t answer the question that well, so I’m not sure how I can do.  But my answer is usually something like this: traditional pop song arrangements that focus on hooks and melodies, but that often have a harder, rockier thrust.  However, that only describes the power pop I personally like best.  Carl Cafarelli in "Shake Some Action" describes it in the following way:

"In strictest terms, power pop is literally pop music with power, catchy tunes with an attitude.  It refers to an energetic interpretation of pop rock, based in equal parts on melodic hooks and killer instinct.  It takes obvious inspiration from mid-1960’s rock ‘n’ roll, especially from groups like the Beatles, The Kinks, and the early Who.  From about 1977 onward, it has frequently absorbed a recognizable influence from the ragin’ rhythms of punk."

Well, why the fuck not.  Let’s go with that.

For me, power pop was birthed by the above-mentioned bands in the ’60’s, but was truly created by the big five – Big Star, the Raspberries, Todd Rundgren, Badfinger, and Cheap Trick – in the early-to-mid ’70’s.  New wave bands like the Knack, Squeeze, and the dB’s, and punk bands like the Ramones, helped to hammer it into shape in the late ’70’s and early ’80s, and today’s post-modern purveyors continue to add new wrinkles every year.

"How did you decide what bands belong on this list?"

I hunted and poked and came up with whom I came up with below.  I normally left off bands who may have had a power pop song or two, but weren’t generally considered power pop overall; Alice Cooper’s Under My Wheels, The Old 97’s Rollerskate Skinny, or The Clash’s Hateful, for example, weren’t included because Alice, the Olds, and The Clash aren’t really power pop bands.  Other bands that sidle power pop, but aren’t quite, like Elvis Costello and The Replacements, I also left off the list.  And I didn’t include the piano pop sub-genre of power pop that would include great bands like the Ben Folds Five and Fluid Ounces. I DID include punk power pop bands; although Borack slides past them in his book, there’s no doubt in my mind that The Ramones and The Buzzcocks are pure power pop.  

 "You’re missing ______!  How could you leave them off, you cocksucker?!"

First of all, calling me a cocksucker is a little harsh.  It’s only a list, and everyone’s tastes are different.  (Note: This is a list of my FAVORITE power pop songs not the GREATEST power pop songs – it’s completely subjective.)  There are a lot of classic power pop bands I may appreciate but really don’t enjoy much – The Shoes, 20/20, and Dwight Twilley, for instance.  Overall, I definitely lean toward the harder-edged, rockier power pop of Cheap Trick (5 songs), The Wannadies (7 songs), and The Ramones (4 songs), or the more extravagant indie power pop bands like Apples in Stereo (6 songs) or Sloan (5 songs).

In making this list, I have to thank Jordan Oakes, who lovingly compiled the Yellow Pills compilations, John M. Borack , Joe Williams, my friend and CD-compilation maker,  and Not Lame Records, the number one purveyor of great power pop (please check them out at www.notlame.com).

Also, you can check out a very truncated downloadable version of this list on iTunes at MY 100 FAVORITE POWER POP TUNES SONGS AVAILABLE ON ITUNES.

Here goes.  Enjoy –

1. Surrender – Cheap Trick

2. Erica’s Word – Game Theory

3. Pulling Mussels (From the Shell) – Squeeze

4. Calling All Destroyers – Tsar

5. Goin’ Through Your Purse -Material Issue

6. These Others –  The Vandalias

7. Good Girls Don’t – The Knack

8. Late – Trip Shakespeare

9. Cruel to Be Kind – Nick Lowe

10. Gimme Love – The Swingers

11. Go All the Way – Raspberries

12. Why Bother? – Weezer

13. Crybaby – Utopia

14. Down Like Me – Ken Stringfellow

15. Alright – The Lost Patrol

16. Headache -Frank Black

17. Golden Blunders –  The Posies

18. The KKK Took My Baby Away – The Ramones

19. Town Called Malice – The Jam

20. Highschool – Flashing Lights

21. Couldn’t I Just Tell You – Todd Rundgren

22. Can’t Make Your Life – Lilys

23. Your Love Is the Place Where I Come From – Teenage Fanclub

24. Indy 500 – Girlpope

25. Don’t Deflate – Starling

26.  Yellow & Blue – Ice Cream Hands

27.  She Digs Her – You Am I

28.  Teenage Kicks– The Undertones

29.  Counting the Beat – The Swingers

30.  Going Underground – The Jam

31.  Dear Scene, I Wish I Were Deaf – Nightmare of You

32.  Get Over It– Ok Go

33.  He’s a Whore – Cheap Trick

34.  The Ghost at Number One – Jellyfish

35.  This ‘n’ That – Silver Sun

36.  The Rest of My Life –  Sloan

37.  Been Waiting – The Flashing Lights

38.  Turn It Around – Steve Ward

39.  The Way I Want to Be – The Village Green

40.  Mr. Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra

41.  The Ballad of El Goodo – Big Star

42.  I Don’t Want Control of You – Teenage Fanclub

43.  Sick of Myself – Matthew Sweet

44.  She’s So Young – The Pursuit of Happiness

45.  Melanie – The Nines

46. Sun – The Toms

47. Opportunites – You Am I

48. Up the Junction – Squeeze

49. Homemade Movie Queen – Ray Wonder

50. About Your Fame – The Apples in Stereo

51. Taking Up Space -The Cavedogs

52. Nothing Wrong – The Wannadies

53. I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams -Weezer & Rachel Hayden

54. The Kind of Day I Had – Dum Dums

55. Keep the Home Fires Burning – The Bluetones

56. Dawn Can’t Decide – The Lemonheads

57. Sucked Out – Superdrag

58. Hurt Me – The Odds

59. Wish It Would Rain – Roger Joseph Manning Jr.

60. Dumb – Silver Sun

61. Gene Autry – Beulah

62. Losing California – Sloan

63. Buzzbomb – The Vandalias

64. Earn Enough for Us – XTC

65. Mary Provost – Nick Lowe

66. Disaster – Frisbie

67. Jesse’s Girl -Rick Springfield

68. I’m Shakin’ -Rooney

69. Mule – Wille Wisely

70. Across the Sea – Weezer

71. When Did Your Heart Go Missing? – Rooney

72. Madame Helga – Stereophonics

73. Someone Somewhere – The Wannadies

74. There She Goes -The Las

75. Do Anything You Wanna Do – Eddie and the Hot Rods

76. Charity at Home – The Vandalias

77. Those Words – Eggstone

78. Needles and Pins – The Ramones

79. I Want to Be Buried in Your Backyard – Nightmare of You

80. Built in Girls – Wrens

81. Purple Sneakers – You Am I

82. No Tomorrow – Orson

83. The Big Lie – Gigolo Aunts

84. 24 – Game Theory

85. Understanding Jane – The Icicle Works

86. Whenever You’re on My Mind – Marshall Crenshaw

87. Wish List –  Jets to Brazil

88. Nobody Knows – Raspberries

89. Oh Tara – The Knack

90. Electric Chair – The Dolls (featuring Jane Jensen)

91. I Can’t Take It – Cheap Trick

92. I Need Love – Sam Phillips

93. It Hurts Too Much – Eric Carmen

94. Ever Fallen in Love – Buzzcocks

95. No Matter What – Badfinger

96. Cigarette Lighter Love Song – Marvelous 3

97. Permanent – Arthur Yoria

98. New Mistake – Jellyfish

99. Trees – The Lovehammers

100. A Spy in the House of Love – dB’s

101. Teenage Dirtbag – Wheatus

102. Different Girl – Swag

103. Love Is the Answer – Utopia

104. Benefits of Lying (With Your Friend) – Apples in Stereo

105. Maybe Tonight – The Knack

106. Ride – The Montgomery Cliffs

107. Junk – Brainpool

108. Under the Light of the Moon – The Merrymakers

109. No One Told Him – The Vandalias

110. Hollow Head – Sloan

111. My Mind – The Scruffs

112. Fallen Angels – Bill Boll

113. You and Me Song – The Wannadies

114. This Year’s Jessica – The Beatifics

115. Stupid Thing to Say – Treble Charger

116. Everybody Gets What They Deserve – The Churchills

117. The Bird That You Can’t See – The Apples in Stereo

118. Comets – Brian Stevens

119. The Genius – True Love

120. Yearbook – Splitsville

121. Baby It’s Cold Outside – Pezband

122. No One Else (acoustic version) – Weezer

123. Dragonfly – The Sun Sawed in 1/2

124. I Don’t Wanna Break Up – Tsar

125. Get High – All Day Sucker

126. Shorty – The Wannadies

127. She Looks Like You – Arthur Yoria

128. She Reduces Me – Paper Airplane Pilots

129. Gee Angel – Sugar

130. Wednesday Girl – The Montgomery Cliffs

131. The Way She Drives – Ice Cream Hands

132. April’s Fool – The Merrymakers

133. Caught By the Fuzz – Supergrass

134. Down with Peter Green – The Mayflies USA

135. Call Me – Arthur Yoria

136. Horse & Carriage – Calamine

137. MONoSTEReo – Tsar

138. Uri Geller – The Wannadies

139. That’s What the Little Girls Do – The Knack

140. I Just Wanna Stay at Home – The Blondes

141. It’s Up to You –  The Tuesdays

142. The Good Life – Weezer

143. I Was Never a Normal Boy – Nightmare of You

144. How Good It Can Be – The 88

145. Same Old Drag – The Apples in Stereo

146. Your Number or Your Name – The Knack

147. Don’t Want to Say Goodbye – Raspberries

148. Leave Me Alone – The Cavedogs

149. Smallville – Brainpool

150. Weight The Can’t Be Carried – Heavy Blinkers

151. Oh Yes (It’s a Mess) – The Wannadies

152. Daisy Duke – Rooney

153. Hoover Dam – Sugar

154. Head On – The Jesus and Mary Chain

155. You Said That Last Night – The Apples in Stereo

156. I’ll Come Down – The Davenports

157. Nothing Lasts Forever – Copperpot

158. Gray – You Am I

159. Thirteen – Big Star

160. Take the World – Blow Pops

161. Cannot Love You Enough – Willie Wisely

162. A Notice to Everyone (The Cops Are Pissed) – The Model Rockets

163. Ruin Everything – The Maroons

164. Everybody Knows – This Perfect Day

165. Cruel Girl – The Red Button

166. All in Your Head – Rooney

167. Jade – The Waking Hours

168. It’s the Night Time – Josh Rouse

169. She Came On – Super Deluxe

170. How Can Love Hurt So Much – The Knack

171. Newark Needs Insurance – Bill Boll

172. El Scorcho – Weezer

173. Slackjawed – The Connells

174. Thinking Out Loud – The Mayflies USA

175. Alison’s Starting to Happen – The Lemonheads

176. Hide Another Mistake – The 88

177. Hot Dog – Eugenius

178. Next Time – Three Hour Tour

179. A Good Man Is Easy to Kill – Beulah

180. Message ’78 – Myracle Brah

181. Into the Crowd – Brainpool

182. Love is for Lovers – dB’s

183. Phone Call No. 27 – Admiral Twin

184. Monkey in the Middle – The Merrymakers

185. A Million Miles Away – The Plimsouls

186. What in the World – Richard X. Heyman

187. Girlfriend – Uptown Sinclair

188. Do Re Mi – Every Single Saturday

189. Crash – Primitives

190. Can You Feel It? – The Apples in Stereo

191. Someone Who’s Cool – The Odds

192. In Quintessence – Squeeze

193. That’s What They Do – Holiday with Maggie

194. I Saw the Light – Todd Rundgren

195. Let’s Be Friends Again – The Toms

196. Bliss – Fuzzbubble

197. Everything’s Going Your Way – Love Nut

198. Anything, Anything – Dramarama

199. So It Goes – Nick Lowe

200. Everything You’ve Done Wrong – Sloan

201. Letter from an Occupant – The New Pornographers

202. My Brain is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg) – The Ramones

203. False Alarm – Sloan

204. Tonight It’s You – Cheap Trick

205. Out of My Head – Fastball

206. Song One – The Argument

207. Hysterical – The Blakes

208. Back of My Hand – Jags

209. I Like You a Lalalala Lot – The Wannadies

210. Radiation Vibe – Fountains of Wayne

211. Thinking About You – Michael Carpenter

212. Directly from the Heart – The Innocents

213. She’s So High – Tal Bachman

214. Hard Cold Stone – Stingray Green

215. Annie Get Your Gun – Squeeze

216. That’s Rock ‘n Roll – Eric Carmen

217. Alright – Supergrass

218. All – Skycycle

219. Senses Working Overtime – XTC

220. From Blown Speakers – The New Pornographers

221. Timpani Heart – The Sun Sawed in 1/2

222. Parador – Wisely

223. Someday, Someway – Marshall Crenshaw

224. Damage – You Am I

225. Sorrow (Boots of Pain) – The Cavedogs

226. The Fan – Material Issue

227. We Got to Be Good to Each Other – Ray Wonder

228. Bad Karma – The Montgomery Cliffs

229. Ontario – The Posies

230. Hyde Street Virgins – The Loud Family

231. Fox on the Run – Sweet

232. Bruised – The Bens

233. Stuff and Nonsense – Split Enz

234. Papercup – Brainpool

235. Fifteen – You Am I

236. Always Carry On – The Spongetones

237. But I’m Different Now – The Jam

238. I May Hate You Sometimes – The Posies

239. Every Day I Fall in Love Again – Linus of Hollywood

240. Heaven’s Falling – Cheap Trick

241. The Weakest Shade of Blue – The Pernice Brothers

242. Black Coffee in Bed – Squeeze

243. Does It Even Matter – Myracle Brah

244. Infatuation – The Spongetones

245. I Could Use You – Material Issue

246. Danny Says – The Ramones

247. Get Up – You Am I

248. Too Much, Too Little, Too Late – Jellyfish

249. I Don’t Mind – Buzzcocks

250. Don’t Tell Me – The Shivvers

The above is all going to change in a matter of days.

And, unless you get easily ill, go see CLOVERFIELD!  You can read everything I had to say about it by signing up at www.jgas.org/forum, and going to my personal forum.

James

© 2008 – 2009, Just Linda. All rights reserved.

Category: LISTS

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  • Shawn H

    I now have a lot of bands I will soon look into. Now, about that list…Only one from Badfinger? No “Feel” or “In The Street” by Big Star? Including two of the wimpier Raspberries songs (“Nobody Knows” and “Don’t Want To Say Goodbye”) but don’t include “Tonight”, “I Wanna Be With You”, “Play On”, “Hard To Get Over A Heartache” or I’m A Rocker”? Thanks for the info. your list brings, but I see major omissions here. Peace.

  • Christopher Churchill

    Linus’s Old ¬†band Size 14 – 1990s Power pop Band – The band have recently made B-Sides and Unreleased Tracks available via Facebook to listen to :

    Size 14 Facebook Page

  • Liveatbudokan

    Love your list. Enjoyed reading through it but I’m sorry but no inclusion of ANY 20/20 (Oh Cherie, Out of This Time? Jet Lag? ) song let alone Yellow Pills?¬† I know you said you don’t really enjoy them much but that’s like saying that you like Metal but don’t like Motorhead.

  • Listen to a podcast review of The Wannadies album Be A Girl on the Dig Me Out Podcast at digmeoutpodcast.com, a weekly podcast dedicated to reviewing lost and forgotten rock of the ’90s.

  • Timcoartsltd

    Thanks for putting my Sun songs on your list!!! You’ve got great taste in music overall.
    Tim Rose
    The Sun Sawed in 1/2

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