Every now and then a band with a power pop or indie streak, wises up and “goes commercial,” leaving behind some of the cult audience to experience mass audience acceptance and adulation. The best example of this was a little known L.A. band called Kara’s Flowers, who in 1997 wowed me with their debut The Fourth World on Reprise Records. Like most new “star” talent it had great songwriting and massive hooks on the single “Soap Disco.” But it wasn’t until lead singer Adam Levine ditched the tight group harmonies, and started emulating Stevie Wonder’s soulful approach he was able to breakout as the band Maroon 5.
This year the new “breakout” band to reach mass popularity is the Fun. While Aim and Ignite was one of 2009’s best power pop LPs, the band then moved away from those classic power pop influences (Beatles, Queen, ELO). Nate Ruess (vocal), Jack Antonoff (guitar) and Andrew Dost embraced popular hip hop culture and style for Some Nights. They even used Auto-Tune and had Janelle Monáe assist on their breakout hit “We Are Young.“ Thankfully, the band’s core strengths stay intact: uplifting melodies and emotional lyrics have made this one of the best releases for a pop band.
It’s not in my main list this year because its not really a power pop band anymore, but its mainstream success should be applauded.