Power Pop Songs Other Than ‘Go All The Way’: Gimme Five

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Whenever a band comes along that plays upbeat, guitar driven, melodically catchy music, sooner or later they are compared to the Raspberries and their big power pop hit from 1972 “Go All the Way.” Not so surprising; in both theory and practice, the definition of power pop is very narrow. Too much power, it turns into Cheap Trick; too much pop, it becomes the Archies.

Still, there are more great classic power pop songs out there than “Go All the Way.” Here are five that are at least as good, if not better …

TOMMY JAMES AND THE SHONDELLS, “I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW” (1967): A 1960s classic that pre-dates the Raspberries. The studio version clocks in at about two and a quarter minutes, proving again that brevity is often a key ingredient called for in the power pop cookbook.

THE RUBINOOS, “I WANNA BE YOUR BOYFRIEND” (1979): A perfectly constructed pop masterpiece, a few years back it was at the center of a lawsuit involving Avril Lavigne’s 2007 hit “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend” that was later settled out of court. Understandable: the Rubinoos’ timeless original feels like a song that must be in the public domain, sounding as if it had existed on pop radio forever.

BIG STAR, “SEPTEMBER GURLS” (1974):This one is definitely a contender for the best power pop song of all time. “September Gurls” barely contains the wistful heartache that only comes from being in love with being in love – until the real thing comes along, and inevitably goes away again. It’s also a reflection of real life, being that in their time Big Star’s three albums were never able to further their short but promising career.

THE ROMANTICS, “WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU” (1980): So sweet, it’s a toothache disguised as music. Still, its backbeat is tough enough to keep it out of the dentist’s office and on the radio.

THE KNACK, “YOUR NUMBER OF YOUR NAME” (1979): Even up to the death of leader Doug Feiger in 2010, the Knack were still saddled with the “Nuke the Knack” backlash that followed their successful debut in 1979. Too bad; 30-plus years later, the negative “brash” and “contrived” labels have worn away, revealing that Feiger indeed had a knack for writing power pop gems, including the non-single album cut “Your Number or Your Name.” Its comparative restraint makes it less likely to press the buttons of those who dislike the Knack’s better known material.

JC Mosquito

JC Mosquito

JC Mosquito spends most of his day keeping the wolves from the door. When he's not occupied with this pastime, he's interested in all things rock and roll -- which may or may not have died back in the late 1950s, the late 1970s, or the early '90s, depending on who you believe. Contact Something Else! at [email protected]
JC Mosquito
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