Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Stephen Thomas Erlewine is a Senior Editor of Pop Music at Tivo, whose database of music information is licensed throughout the Internet and can be accessed at Allmusic.com. While at Tivo/Allmusic, he's written thousands of record reviews and biographies. He's also contributed to Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Billboard, Spin and New York Magazine's Vulture, and has written liner notes for Raven Records and Legacy.

"Where Are All The Nice Girls: How Power Pop Created A World Without Women"
Pete Townshend labeled the Who's music as "power pop" in 1967 but a decade later the term had been reduced to "melodic songs with crunchy guitars and some wild drumming" by Eric Carmen, the leader of the Raspberries. Terminology isn't the only thing that changed in power pop during the course of the '70s. Every power pop act claimed the British Invasion as gospel but in practice the style abandoned the inclusiveness of '60s guitar pop, gradually losing the female fans that turned the Beatles into superstars. By the end of the '70s, power pop was a genre made by outsiders for outsiders: musicians who pined for a romantic ideal, ignoring the mess of reality. Accordingly, power pop became a haven for men who were too frightened to engage with the world, so they preferred music that evoked the past while also throwing daggers at liberated modern woman, a practice epitomized by the Spongetones' 1982 slut-shaming "She Goes Out With Everybody." The pivot point in the progression of power pop is Elvis Costello, who weaponized geekdom: he turned alienation into an assault. Power poppers didn't embrace explicit confrontation, preferring to sing about girls in songs that were really for boys. It was a passive aggressive stance where they envisioned themselves as good guys slighted by girls and the girls could tell. Scan the lists of classic power pop albums and women appear nonexistent: there isn't a single record with a female member and on Rhino's canon-defining '90s compilations Poptopia, there are only two acts with women--one insisting you should tell another girl to shut up, the other being the Bangles. Far from being an aberration, this self-selecting cult was a harbinger of a geek culture where men isolate themselves from women and put the blame on anybody but themselves.