Jangle pop

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"Jangle" redirects here. For other uses, see Jangle (disambiguation).

Jangle pop is a genre of alternative rock from the early-to-mid-1980s that "marked a return to the chiming or jangly guitars and pop melodies of the '60s", as exemplified by The Byrds, with electric twelve-string guitars and straightforward, power pop-inspired song structures. Mid-1980s jangle pop, epitomised by bands such as The Smiths, was a non-mainstream "pop-based format" with "some folk-rock overtones". Between 1983 and 1987, the description "jangle pop" was, in the US, used to describe bands like R.E.M., Let's Active and Tom Petty as well as a subgenre called "Paisley Underground", which incorporated psychedelic influences.[1] In the UK, the term was applied to the new wave of raw and immediate sounding melodic guitar-bands collected on the NME's C86 (and later CD86) compilations.



In 1964, The Beatles' use of the jangle sound in the songs "A Hard Day's Night", "What You're Doing", "Ticket to Ride" and their cover of Buddy Holly's "Words of Love" encouraged many artists to use the jangle sound or purchase a Rickenbacker twelve-string guitar. The Byrds began using similar guitars after seeing them played in the film A Hard Day's Night. Other groups such as The Who (in their early "Mod" years), The Beach Boys, The Hollies and Paul Revere & the Raiders continued the use of twelve-string Rickenbackers. The Byrds, whose style was also referred to as folk rock, prominently featured Roger McGuinn's Rickenbacker electric twelve-string guitar in many of their recordings.

The etymological derivation of the term "jangle" is uncertain. The term may be derived from the lyric "In the jingle jangle morning, I'll come following you" from The Byrds' cover of Bob Dylan's song "Mr. Tambourine Man", or it may be an onomatopoeia that refers to the chiming sound of a twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar's upper-register strings. Jangle pop is related to the power pop genre that developed in the 1960s, including bands like Raspberries and Big Star, who blurred the line between the two styles.


"Jangle pop" began as an American post-punk movement of the early-to-mid-'80s that marked a return to the chiming guitars and pop melodies of the '60s. In 1979, the Athens, Georgia group Pylon debuted with an "angular, propulsive jangle pop sound" that would influence fellow members of the Athens, Georgia music scene,[2] including R.E.M.

In New York City during this period, "jangle pop" could reasonably be used to describe the more conventionally folk-rock Willie Nile, The Smithereens, and popular but unsigned four-piece band The Floor Models,[3] all of whom had origins in Greenwich Village clubs such as The Bitter End, Folk City and Kenny's Castaways, as did many significant East Coast 1960s folk-rock acts. The Smithereens and Floor Models in particular made extensive use of various models of the Rickenbacker twelve-string electric guitar as well as the much rarer Hagström twelve-string electric guitar.[4]

The sound of jangle pop was "essentially a pop-based format" with "some folk-rock overtones." AllMusic claims that it was non-mainstream music with "deliberately cryptic" lyrics and "raw and amateurish" DIY production. Between 1983 and 1987, "Southern-pop bands like R.E.M. and Let's Active" and a subgenre called "Paisley Underground" incorporated psychedelic influences.[1] An article in Blogcritics magazine claims that besides R.E.M., the "... only other jangle-pop band to enjoy large sales in America were the Bangles, from Los Angeles. While better known for their glossy hits like 'Manic Monday', their first album and EP were organic, real jangle-pop efforts in a Byrds/Big Star vein, spiced with a dash of psychedelia on their debut."[5]

Jangle pop influenced college rock during the early 1980s,[6] as demonstrated on early albums by R.E.M., 10,000 Maniacs, Let's Active, The dB's, The Feelies, Guadalcanal Diary, Game Theory, The Connells, Marshall Crenshaw and the Beat Farmers. In Austin, Texas, the term "New Sincerity" was loosely used for a similar group of bands, led by The Reivers, Wild Seeds and True Believers.

In the UK, The Smiths, Felt, and Aztec Camera can be considered part of jangle pop, as can the raw and immediate sounding melodic guitar-bands of the C86/CD86 scene.[7] Australian band The Church can likewise be considered an example of the genre.[8][9] In Canada, around this time of more so the late '80s, bands like The Tragically Hip and Barenaked Ladies had elements of jangle in their earlier material.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jangle Pop. Allmusic.com. Retrieved August 2011
  2. ^ Pylon bio, Allmusic.com. Retrieved August 2011
  3. ^ The Floor Models, Powerpop.blogspot.com. Retrieved August 2011
  4. ^ Hagstrom 12-string electric guitar, hagstrom.org.uk. Retrieved August 2011
  5. ^ "Sunday Morning Playlist: Jangle Pop - Blogcritics Music". Blogcritics.org. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  6. ^ Jangle Pop radiosparx.com. Retrieved December 2011
  7. ^ Sullivan, Denise. "Jangle-Pop". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 28, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Jangle Pop". Rhapsody. Rhapsody International. Retrieved July 28, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Stagestruck" (High Bias review of Wild Seeds, October 1, 2001), archive copy at Internet Archive.