5 Essential Power Pop Albums From 2022: Dazy, Young Guv, The Beths & More
Molly Rankin and Kerri MacLellan of Alvvays perform in London

Photo: Lorne Thomson/Redferns


5 Essential Power Pop Albums From 2022: Dazy, Young Guv, The Beths & More

The beauty of well-executed power pop is how effortless it can sound, and as this year's releases have proven, even a song that clocks in under 2 minutes can make a long-lasting impact.

GRAMMYs/Dec 22, 2022 - 10:32 pm

Power pop may not necessarily be a genre en vogue, but there is something admirable about an artist who devotes their energy to crafting the perfect pop song with nothing but a guitar and a story to tell.

Like many things in music, its origins start with the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, and the Kinks. While the likes of Led Zeppelin, Cream and Jimi Hendrix were pushing the limits (and volume) of the delta blues, power pop upstarts like the Raspberries and Badfinger were trying their best to recapture the sound of Beatlemania. Cheap Trick, whose shows received Beatle-like hysteria abroad, brought power pop to the masses with songs like "Dream Police," "Surrender," and of course their effervescent jam "I Want You to Want Me."

But it was singer/songwriter Alex Chilton and his band Big Star who have remained power pop’s heroes. The band’s first two albums — #1 Record and Radio City — are considered cult classics in the genre. Chilton had a knack for writing catchy, danceable rock songs like  "September Gurls," "When My Baby’s Beside Me," and "In the Street," while at the same time delivering gentler ballads like "I’m In Love With A Girl" or "Thirteen" with the lovesick sincerity of a teenager with a crush.

Their music would go on to influence countless bands, many of whom had commercial success Big Star could only dream of. From Nick Lowe to the Cars, the Bangles to R.E.M., there is a long history of Chilton disciples who have plied their trade creating jangly and bright rock 'n' roll as sweet as candy-o.

Perhaps no disciple was more devoted than Paul Westerberg of Minnesotan misfits the Replacements. For Westerberg, Chilton was both his mentor and muse as a songwriter. "I never travel far without a little Big Star," he sang on the rollicking ode "Alex Chilton" from the Replacements' classic Pleased to Meet Me. On this track, Westerberg envisioned a world in which "children by the million sing for Alex Chilton." Thirty-five years later since that song was written, Westerberg’s power pop utopia has arrived.

2022 saw an explosion of vital power pop releases from artists who both carried that torch and pushed the genre in exciting new directions — a reminder that power pop isn't just fodder for grocery stores or radio replays, but rather music worthy of dissecting and embracing. The beauty of well-executed power pop is how effortless it can sound, and as this year's releases have proven, even a song that clocks in under 2 minutes can make a long-lasting impact. Here are five essential power pop albums from 2022 that you need to check out.

Young Guv – III & IV

For 15 years, Ben Cook was a guitarist for Canadian hardcore punk heroes F<em></em>*ed Up, a band known for pummeling its listeners with loud guitar riffs and barking vocals. It’s about as far from power pop as you can get, which is why it’s surprising that since leaving that band, Cook has made a name for himself making gentler, catchy power pop under the moniker Young Guv.

In 2022, the band released not one but two albums: GUV III & GUV IV, each of which were recorded in the spring of 2020, when Young Guv’s tour was halted in Texas due to COVID. Cook and his bandmates spent the next nine months living at the foot of the Taos Mountains in New Mexico in an "earthship" made from Adobe clay, tires, and bottles. They spent their days writing music, swimming in the Rio Grande, and listening to a lot of Miles Davis, and emerged on the other side with two album’s worth of new music.

While the album covers may look similar, the two records have different feels. Songs on III like "It’s Only Dancing" and "Couldn’t Leave U If I Tried" offer a more immediate rush of danceable, jangle rock, while IV feels a bit more meditative and lived in — like the wilting "Change Your Mind" or minimalistic "Cry 2 Sleep." To put it in a different perspective, III is made for the days out swimming under the sun, while IV sounds like a night best spent gazing at the bright stars in the middle of the desert.

2nd Grade – Easy Listening

For more than a decade, Philadelphia has become the  hotspot for indie rock. Artists like The War on Drugs, Japanese Breakfast, Kurt Vile, and countless others have made a name for themselves in the City of Brotherly Love before becoming embraced by fans far beyond Broad Street. Peter Gill, frontman of Philadelphia’s 2nd Grade, may not be a household name just yet, but after releasing his band’s excellent new album Easy Listening in September, perhaps album opener "Cover of Rolling Stone" won’t be a work of fiction for very long.

The best power pop doesn’t take itself too seriously, and on Easy Listening, Gill writes with a childlike playfulness about Keith Richards’ guitar and the episode of "Seinfeld" when Kramer moves to L.A. Then there are songs like "Me & My Blue Angles" and "Teenage Overpopulation'' that feel as if they have been around forever — like old friends back in town for a beer. "Strung Out On You," in particular, sounds like a classic left off of one of Big Star’s first two records. Easy Listening is exactly as the album title advertises: a breezy and fun power pop gem that makes power pop sound easy.


James Goodson is a music publicist living in Richmond, Virginia who, on a whim during the pandemic, recorded and released songs as DAZY, a solo-project of loud, fuzzy power pop. Following a collection of demos MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD: The First 24 Songs and 2022’s "Pressure Cooker," the one-off hookfest of a collab single with Militarie Gun, DAZY unleashed a debut full-length.

Clocking in at just over 25 minutes, OUTOFBODY is a quick and dizzying hit of electric dopamine, delivered solely via computer and a guitar. These songs rip with huge refrains, thumping drum machines, and buzzy guitars.

Goodson was a child of punk rock, and grew up listening to the likes of Nirvana, Green Day and Rancid. "I wanted to tap into the music that I’ve always loved and will always love so it will never get old to me," Goodson told Stereogum.  Throughout the record, Goodson uses these  influences as a sort of cathartic expression of the existential dread he maps out on OUTOFBODY. You can hear that early pop-punk, college rock, and grunge on "Split" and "On My Way," as well as Oasis and Britpop within the hooks on "Ladder" and "Choose Yr Ramone."

Within all the noise, however, is the comfort in knowing that music you love will never leave your side.

The Beths – Expert in a Dying Field

It’s easy to take what the Beths do so well for granted. Since they first arrived on the scene with 2018’s Future Me Hates Me, the New Zealand quartet has done nothing but write sincere, lasting power pop. In 2022 the Beths released their best album yet, Expert in a Dying Field, a collection of songs that dive into the anxieties and heartbreak of everyday life.

On "Silence Is Golden," the album's loudest song, frontwoman Liz Stokes propels into the unending noise.  Elsewhere, on "Your Side," "Knees Deep," and the excellent title track, Stokes’ lovelorn characters toggle between relationship autopsies and dreams about what’s next, "mixing drinks and messages." "When You Know You Know" wouldn’t sound out of place next to Avril Lavigne on the radio, and features some of Stokes’ best turn of phrases ("Running down the road to jog the memory"). Whether or not the album title is a bit self-deprecating remains to be seen, but the Beths are the heroes that power pop needs.

Alvvays – Blue Rev

Toronto indie darlings Alvvays first arrived on the scene in 2014 with their self-titled debut that included the indie-pop anthem "Archie, Marry Me." They leveled up on their next record, 2017’s Antisocialites, and then… well… the band went silent. For a little while, it felt like Alvvays would never return, but it turns out that the band had to overcome roadblocks of biblical proportions to record their fantastic new record. Not a pandemic, a studio flood, and stolen demos could derail Blue Rev.

On Blue Rev, Alvvays teamed up with GRAMMY-winning producer Shawn Everett to turn power pop on its head and send it in new directions. Blue Rev is awash in shoegaze-y guitars and lush synths, and songs such as "After the Earthquake," "Many Mirrors," and "Easy On Your Own?" sound like if R.E.M.’s Murmur and Monster were put into a blender.

Meanwhile, singer/guitarist Molly Rankin has a unique talent for making life’s mundanities feel high stakes; she writes about running into an ex-lover’s sibling on "Pharmacist," a tale that lands with a gut-punch, singing "You know it happens all the time, it’s alright. I know I never crossed your mind." It’s endlessly captivating and inviting, and with Blue Rev, Alvvays have established themselves as power pop’s new pioneers.

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Outside Lands 2023: Watch Performances By Alvvays, Joy Oladokun, Lovejoy, & More
Joy Oladokun

Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images


Outside Lands 2023: Watch Performances By Alvvays, Joy Oladokun, Lovejoy, & More

On Aug. 11-13, Outside Lands returned to San Francisco's Golden Gate Park for the 15th time. Check out some stellar performances from the multi-day music and food festival.

GRAMMYs/Aug 15, 2023 - 03:30 pm

In the midst of an unseasonably chilly August — a San Francisco trademark — Outside Lands raged once again.

Some 75,000 attendees flocked to the Bay Area to enjoy delicious food and an eclectic array of entertainment — among them Janelle Monáe, Foo Fighters, Kendrick Lamar, and other leading lights of today's music. was there to soak up the tunes and the atmosphere — and film some truly inspired sets. Below, revisit Outside Lands — or, if you weren't there, experience it from afar — with some top-tier performances.



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New Music Friday: Listen To New Music From Jungkook & Jack Harlow, PinkPantheress, *NSYNC And More
Jungkook performs at the 2023 Global Citizen Festival in September.

Photo: Gotham/WireImage


New Music Friday: Listen To New Music From Jungkook & Jack Harlow, PinkPantheress, *NSYNC And More

As September comes to a close, listen to these new songs, albums and collaborations from Ed Sheeran, Lil Wayne and more.

GRAMMYs/Sep 29, 2023 - 08:18 pm

As we close out the month, this New Music Friday has loads of fresh beginnings and highly anticipated reunions.

Several big-name collaborations dropped on Sept. 29, from an electric team-up of the Rolling Stones and Lady Gaga to an R&B and rap fusion from Jungkook and Jack Harlow

Two nostalgic releases arrived as well, with Lil Wayne's new album Tha Fix Before Tha Vi continuing his "Tha Carter" series, while *NSYNC fans were treated to the boy band's first new song in 20 years with "Better Place."

Dive into these seven new releases that blend the old generation with the new. 

Jungkook ft. Jack Harlow — "3D"

BTS singer Jungkook takes us through a nostalgic journey with "3D," a song reminiscent of an early 2000s boy band hit. The hypnotizing lyrics illustrate his close connection to someone he can't reach, so he'll watch them in 3D.

"So if you're ready (So if you're ready)/ And if you'll let me (And if you'll let me)/ I wanna see it in motion/ In 3D (Uh-uh)," he sings in the chorus. 

Jack Harlow pops in, dropping a few verses boasting about his global attraction with women. "Mr. First Class" claims he can "fly you from Korea to Kentucky," as he closes out the song.

With an addictive chorus and groovy baseline, this track has a different vibe from his "Seven" collaboration with Latto. The song marks Jungkook's seventh solo single and second of 2023.

Rolling Stones & Lady Gaga ft. Stevie Wonder — "Sweet Sounds of Heaven"

The Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder blended their talents, to create a harmonic symphony of a song that lives up to its heavenly title. Seven minutes of gospel- and blues-inspired rhythms, enriched by Gaga and Mick Jagger's distinct riffs, make this collaboration an immersive experience. Stevie Wonder grounds the track with his command of piano and melodic tempo.

The track is the second peek of the Rolling Stones' upcoming album, Hackney Diamonds, their first LP release in 18 years; their first release, "Angry," arrived Sept. 6. With production from GRAMMY-winning Andrew Watt, the soulful essence makes "Sweet Sounds of Heaven" an exciting taste of the long-overdue album.

*NSYNC — "Better Place"

Yes, you read correctly. After two decades and a recent reunion at the 2023 MTV Video Music awards, <em>NSYNC is back with a new single, "Better Place," appearing in the new animated Trolls* movie (due Nov. 17). With a nostalgic dance-pop beat, familiar production and breezy lyrics, this single is a remarkable comeback.

"Just let me take you to a better place/ I'm gonna make you kiss the sky tonight," they sing in the chorus. 

The reunion was first teased Sept. 14, through a video of the group's emotional studio session, as Justin Timberlake shared on Instagram. "When the stars align… got my brothers back together in the studio to work on something fun and the energy was special," he wrote in the post. 

PinkPantheress — "Mosquito"

Dive into this musical daydream as PinkPantheress serenades us on her new single, "Mosquito," a dreamy, lucid song reminiscent of old-school R&B. After recently hopping on the energetic remix of Troye Sivan's "Rush" and teaming up with Destroy Lonely on "Turn Your Phone Off," PinkPantheress is transporting us through a new era, full of charm and surprises.

"Cause I just had a dream I was dead/ And I only cared 'cause I was taken from you/ You're the only thing that I own/ I hear my bell ring, I'd only answer for you," she sings in the chorus. 

Co-crafted by GRAMMY-winning producer Greg Kurstin, this song is a transcending, surreal experience. This single isn't about romance, instead she takes us through her entanglements with treasures and money. That's further portrayed in the lavish video, which features a European shopping spree starring "Bridgerton" stars Charithra Chandran, India Amarteifio and "Grown-ish" star Yara Shahidi.

Ed Sheeran — Autumn Variations

The era of mathematical-themed albums seems to be over, as Ed Sheeran has entered a new chapter with Autumn Variations, his second project this year. Sheeran is singing from his heart, sharing soulful tales from emotional events in his life including the death of his dearest friend Jamal Edwards and his wife's health challenges during pregnancy — an extension of the stories he told with May's Subtract.

Autumn Variations is very raw, stripped down and authentic as he takes us through his personal journey. Amidst this, Sheeran still brings in some buzzing tracks including catchy songs like "American Town," "Paper Bag" and "Amazing."

Lil Wayne — Tha Fix Before Tha Vi

Lil Wayne celebrated his 41st birthday with a special present to his fans: the release of a new album two days later. The alluring 10-track project,"Tha Fix Before Tha Vi" dives into past vibes with songs like "Tity Boi," a reference to 2 Chainz's initial stage name, which may be a reference to the upcoming joint album between the two. Each song has a different feel including "Tuxedo," which features a more punk-rock melody and "Chanel No.5 ft. Foushee," which features a sensational beat.

His first album since 2020, Tha Fix Before Tha Vi features rather unexpected collaborators, including Jon Batiste, Fousheé and euro. With different sounds and features than past projects, we could possibly be entering a new Weezy era. 

Thomas Rhett & Morgan Wallen — "Mamaw's House"

Country superstars Morgan Wallen and Thomas Rhett unite for "Mamaw's House," a country-folk track relishing the memories of their grandparents' home and cozy fireplace tales. 

"It's where I spent my summers and she put me to work/ Shellin' peas and shuckin' corn until my fingers hurt/ No tellin' who I'da been without Mamaw's house," Rhett sings in the second verse. 

Rhett said the duo decided to write about their small-town culture — Rhett is from Valdosta, Georgia, while Wallen hails from Sneedville, Tennessee — and the significant presence of grandparents brought to their upbringings. 

"This song just kind of brings up how our mamaws used to act when we were little kids," Rhett told Audacy.. "It's an ode to all the grandmas out there."

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Positive Vibes Only: AMEN Music Offers Up A Spiritual Home In A Joyful Performance Of "Holy Ghost"
AMEN Music

Photo: Renato Rimach


Positive Vibes Only: AMEN Music Offers Up A Spiritual Home In A Joyful Performance Of "Holy Ghost"

Dante Bowe-led worship collective AMEN Music preaches about the power of the holy spirit on their new song "Holy Ghost."

GRAMMYs/Sep 29, 2023 - 07:34 pm

AMEN Music are ready to worship on their new song "Holy Ghost." Against a backdrop of hundreds of lit candles, the contemporary Christian act leads a crowd in singing the praises of the holy spirit in this special performance for Positive Vibes Only.

"Our teacher, my keeper, my all and all/ Thank God for the Holy Ghost/ Sticks closer than a brother and he won't let go/ Thank God for the Holy Ghost/ Completes us and fills us to overflow/ Thank God for the Holy Ghost/ He endows us with power, now the world will know/ Thank God for the Holy Ghost," founder Dante Bowe preaches as he encourages the audience to raise their hands in the air and sing along.

Led by Bowe, the worship collective recently released their debut album, In the Light, featuring 13 rapturous live performances including "Hero," "Come As You Are," "Beautiful (Spontaneous)" and "Jesus We Love You" in addition to "Holy Ghost."

Prior to founding AMEN Music, Bowe snagged six GRAMMY nominations at the 2022 ceremony, including three separate nods in the Best Gospel Song/Performance category. (His own songs "Voice of God" featuring Steffany Gretzinger and Chandler Moore and "Joyful" earned the singer his first two nods, while co-writing Elevation Worship and Maverick City Music's "Wait on You" scored him a third.)

Ultimately, he won his first GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album as a writer on Elevation Worship and Maverick City Music's collaborative record Old Church Basement. Earlier this year, he was nominated for a seventh time — this time for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song as a guest artist and co-writer on Crowder's "God Really Loves Us." 

Press play on the video above to watch AMEN Music's jubilant performance of "Holy Ghost" and check back to for more new episodes of Positive Vibes only. 

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GRAMMY Rewind: Coolio Calls For A United "Hip-Hop Nation" After "Gangsta's Paradise" Wins In 1996
Coolio and L.V. at the 1996 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Russell Einhorn/Liaison


GRAMMY Rewind: Coolio Calls For A United "Hip-Hop Nation" After "Gangsta's Paradise" Wins In 1996

The East Coast rapper took home the GRAMMY for Best Rap Solo Performance for his No. 1 hit "Gangsta's Paradise."

GRAMMYs/Sep 29, 2023 - 05:00 pm

Coolio was living in the "Gangsta's Paradise" of his own creation when the 1996 GRAMMY Awards rolled around. The year before, the ode to hip-hop culture had not only become a global No. 1 hit for the rapper, but also the best-selling song of 1995 in the U.S. And that February night in Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium, the track won Coolio his first GRAMMY, for Best Rap Solo Performance.

Receiving the trophy from Salt-N-Pepa and Mary J. Blige (clad in head-to-toe leopard print), the rapper emerged from backstage with his overjoyed entourage in tow, and started out his acceptance speech by claiming his GRAMMY "for the whole hip-hop nation."

"West Coast, East Coast, worldwide — united we stand, divided we fall. Recognize," he continued before going on to thank God, his then-fiancée Josefa Salinas and his kids, as well as Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, his collaborator L.V., Michelle Pfeiffer (who starred in the song's music video) and others.

Coolio then ended his remarks on a serious note, acknowledging, "We've had a lil' problem lately in high schools and I only got one ting to say to all my Black and Latino brothers out there fightin': Ain't no gangsters living in paradise." 

During the telecast, Coolio also took to the stage to perform "Gangsta's Paradise," which had earned a second nomination for Record of the Year. (That major award ultimately went to Seal's "Kiss From a Rose," along with Song of the Year.)

Sadly, the gangsta rap pioneer died in September 2022 at age 59 after suffering an accidental overdose laced with fentanyl. Press play on the video above to revisit Coolio's GRAMMYs win and check for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

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