Jangle pop

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

Jangle pop is a subgenre of rock music with its origins in the 1960s which features trebly, arpeggiated picking (typically on chiming electric twelve-string guitars or 6 string guitars, often employing a capo and chord inversions), together with straightforward song structures.[1][2] The Beatles and The Byrds are commonly credited with launching the popularity of the "jangly" sound that defined the genre.[1][2][3]

The term "jangle pop" itself emerged as part of the genre's resurgence the early to mid-1980s that "marked a return to the chiming or jangly guitars and pop melodies of the '60s", and was epitomised by bands such as The Smiths. 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.[4] 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. The Byrds modeled their sound on The Beatles and prominently featured Roger McGuinn's Rickenbacker electric twelve-string guitar in many of their recordings.[5] Rickenbacker guitars were expensive and rare, but could create a clear, ringing sound that could not be reproduced with the more "twangy" Telecaster or the "fatter, less sharp" sound of the Les Paul.[5] 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. Folk rock artists Simon and Garfunkel crossed over into jangle pop by adding twelve-string guitars to their music, which helped launch their commercial success.[5]

The term "jangle pop" itself was not used during the original movement of the 1960s, but was later popularized during the 1980s to refer to the genre's 60s origins.[6] The term "jangle pop" 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", and the chiming sound of the twelve-string Rickenbacker's upper-register strings.[1] Jangle pop saw a crossover with other subgenres of the 60s and 70s, including power pop artists like Raspberries and Big Star who blurred the line between the two styles, and folk rock artists such as Simon and Garfunkel.[1] The artists that pioneered jangle pop in the 60s and 70s would later become an influence on 1980s post-punk and new wave artists.[1][6]


The resurgence of jangle pop in the 1980s began as an American post-punk movement that marked a return to the chiming guitars and pop melodies of the 1960s. 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,[7] 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,[8] 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.[9]

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.[4] 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."[10]

Jangle pop influenced college rock during the early 1980s,[11] 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.[12] Australian band The Church can likewise be considered an example of the genre.[13][14]

1990s to present

In Canada, jangle pop continued into the 1990s with bands like The Tragically Hip and Barenaked Ladies, which had elements of jangle in their earlier material. Barenaked Ladies' early work, from their 1992 debut album Gordon to their 1998 multi-platinum record Stunt, featured distinctly jangle pop songs and influences.[15][16] Jangle pop also continued to influence American artists into the 1990s. In particular, Arizona artists from Gin Blossoms' 1992 breakthrough album New Miserable Experience[17] to The Refreshments' 1996 debut album Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy embraced the genre, a movement that was dubbed "Southwestern jangle pop."[18] Jangle-pop influenced American rock artists such as Gainesville, Florida's Sister Hazel,[19][20][21] Berkeley, California's Counting Crows[22] and Boston, Massachusetts artists Guster,[23] continued to see mainstream success in the 1990s and 2000s.

In 2015, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man" and the first wave of jangle pop, Jakob Dylan headlined an all-star concert including artists Beck and Fiona Apple at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles.[24] The concert will be followed by a compilation album featuring covers of songs by jangle pop artists such as The Byrds and The Beach Boys.[24]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 LaBate, Steve (December 18, 2009). "Jangle Bell Rock: A Chronological (Non-Holiday) Anthology… from The Beatles and Byrds to R.E.M. and Beyond". Paste. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  2. 1 2 Wilkin, Jeff (August 19, 2015). "British band Life in Film sounds off on 'Jangle Pop'". The Daily Gazette. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  3. Stebbins, Jon (September 1, 2011). The Beach Boys FAQ: All That's Left to Know About America's Band. Backbeat Books. ISBN 9781458429148. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  4. 1 2 Jangle Pop. Allmusic.com. Retrieved August 2011
  5. 1 2 3 Kocher, Frank (September 2012). "Jingle-Jangle Revolution: How Rickenbacker Guitars Changed Music". Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  6. 1 2 Peake, Steve. "Jangle Pop - Profile of '80s Underground Genre Jangle Pop". About.com. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  7. Pylon bio, Allmusic.com. Retrieved August 2011
  8. The Floor Models, Powerpop.blogspot.com. Retrieved August 2011
  9. Hagstrom 12-string electric guitar, hagstrom.org.uk. Retrieved August 2011
  10. "Sunday Morning Playlist: Jangle Pop - Blogcritics Music". Blogcritics.org. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
  11. Jangle Pop radiosparx.com. Retrieved December 2011
  12. Sullivan, Denise. "Jangle-Pop". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 28, 2011.
  13. "Jangle Pop". Rhapsody. Rhapsody International. Retrieved July 28, 2011.
  14. "Stagestruck" (High Bias review of Wild Seeds, October 1, 2001), archive copy at Internet Archive.
  15. Jacobs, Jay S. (1999). "One Week With... The Barenaked Ladies". PopEntertainment.com. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  16. Schabe, Patrick (September 11, 2000). "Barenaked Ladies: Maroon". PopMatters. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  17. Wood, James (January 8, 2013). "Interview: Gin Blossoms' Jesse Valenzuela Discusses the Band's Plans for 2013". Guitar World. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  18. "Recordings: The Refreshments, Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big & Buzzy (Mercury)". Phoenix New Times. February 29, 1996. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  19. Sitt, Pam (August 18, 2000). "It's a Big Freakin' Deal ; All-day concert provides a little variety with six acts at Cheney Stadium". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 25, 2016. Acoustic jangle-pop band Sister Hazel achieved commercial success with its 1997 hit, "All For You."
  20. Sister Hazel biography. Billboard.com. Accessed May 12, 2016.
  21. Durchholz, David (March 26, 2003). "Critics' Picks: Sister Hazel with the Wil Seabrook Band". The Riverfront Times. Retrieved July 25, 2016. The very definition of a mainstream jangle-pop band, Sister Hazel belongs in the company of Counting Crows, Third Eye Blind, Edwin McCain, Hootie and the Blowfish and matchbox twenty
  22. Reviews: The Counting Crows, This Desert Life. CMJ New Music Monthly. December 1999. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  23. "Guster 10/25 – State Street Theatre". Slope Media. November 1, 2010. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  24. 1 2 Wood, Mikael (October 13, 2015). "Jakob Dylan and friends hear California of yesteryear at Echo in the Canyon". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
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