Let’s give it up for the supermodel who’s become a super talk show mogul. The one and only Tyra Banks. In honor of the woman who will pull almost any stunt to get people to watch her show (as the accompanying picture shows), you go girls (and boys) and get your iPod/MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 tunes that come up.
Guided By Voices — The Official Ironmen Rally Song (Under The Bushes, Under The Stars): Sure, Robert Pollard has released way too much material, but boy, he certainly had a ton of great songs. This majestic mid-tempo song, which was also released as a single, is nearly up there with GBV classics like “Motor Away” in the hierarchy of Mid-Fi Arena Rock Classics.
Queen — Killer Queen (Sheer Heart Attack): This was the song that broke Queen big as a pop act. They had devoted a lot of their first two albums to being a poofier, sleeker alternative to Led Zeppelin, with some success. But this led them to being one of the biggest bands in the world. On this playful pop number, Queen shows off the influence of Roxy Music and Sparks, but the campy flash and high energy is just dialed down a little bit.
The Hives — Main Offender (Veni Vidi Vicious): The Hives aren’t the best garage band around, but they are really good and very few bands have as much flair or personality. This song sounds like the New York Dolls meet The Move, and that’s fine with me.
The Young Nashvillians — Follow That Girl (The Sad Smiles Of The Young Nashvillians): A second appearance from this rag tag group of college students from, you guessed it, Nashville, who recorded in the mid-‘80s. This is one of their later recordings, as evidenced by the polished. This is goofy retro pop, with a prominent Farfisa organ and alternatively scratchy and twangy guitars in the vein of early XTC and The B-52s.
Sagittarius — Artificial Light (Of All The Living Lies) (Present Tense): This ’60s studio band was the brainchild of Gary Usher, who co-wrote songs with Brian Wilson and produced The Byrds and Simon & Garfunkel. He collaborated on this awesome psychedelic soft pop effort with Curt Boettcher. The result is something akin to The Free Design, The Association and The Beach Boys, but with unique dense arrangements, and a general trippier vibe. Listening to the myriad instruments on headphones, perfectly placed in the mix, is a real treat.
The Hollies — You Need Love (Evolution): This is a proto-power pop number from one of the underrated bands of the ’60s. They may have been the best harmony vocalists of all of the British Invasion, with Graham Nash always stacked on top with an angelic voice. If you are in a power pop band, and have some good singers, cover this number. You’ll be glad you did.
The Rolling Stones — Lies (Some Girls): I’d rather listen to Some Girls than Exile On Main Street. On Some Girls, the band established a new type of groove that carried them for about five or six years until it was impossible to stop the rot. This is not one of the stellar tracks from this album, but it still sounds good. Charlie Watts effortlessly taps out a beat that is metronomic, and yet it still swings, while Ron Wood and Keith Richards just fill the track with cool blues guitar tomfoolery.
The dB’s — Working For Somebody Else (The Sound Of Music): Peter Holsapple has such a great hangdog voice and it is perfect for this bitch session about having to have a job. After all, as someone smarter than me once asked, if work is so great, why do they have to pay you to do it? This song has a wobbly R & B foundation, while Holsapple’s melody pushes him near the top of his range. There’s lots of great guitar business going on here, but this song would work if it were just Peter on an acoustic.
The Merry-Go-Round — On Your Way Out (The Merry-Go-Round): This ’60s band was led by Emmit Rhodes, who went on to become a cult figure in pop/power pop circles for McCartney-esque solo albums. On this band’s sole LP, Rhodes showed proficiency for melodic folk-rock in the vein of The Byrds and The Youngbloods. I think there is a best of for these guys, and Rhodes was a really good songwriter, so if you like this sort of stuff, look for the compilation.
Myracle Brah — Hearts On Fire (Plate Spinner): What started as a side project for Baltimore’s Andy Bopp (of Love Nut) became a favorite of the power pop underground in the late ’90s/early ’00s. Bopp mastered the canon of The Beatles, Badfinger and Cheap Trick, and then created bittersweet gems by the fistful. He’s vacillated from more classically retro material and attempts to take power pop into more contemporary directions without losing its roots. He did that latter thing quite well on Plate Spinner, which had creative production and compositions and arrangements that connected dots. This sounds like Paul McCartney fronting Radiohead in an “Eleanor Rigby”-“Karma Police” mash up. Great tune.