Psychedelic pop (or acid pop)[3] is pop music that contains musical characteristics associated with psychedelic music.[1] Developing in the mid-to-late 1960s, elements included "trippy" features such as fuzz guitars, tape manipulation, backwards recording, sitars, and Beach Boys-style harmonies, wedded to melodic songs with tight song structures.[1] The style lasted into the early 1970s.[1] It has seen revivals in subsequent decades by neo-psychedelic artists.[2]

Characteristics edit

According to AllMusic, psychedelic pop was not too "freaky", but also not very "bubblegum" either.[1] It appropriated the effects associated with straight psychedelic music, applying their innovations to concise pop songs.[1] The music was occasionally confined to the studio, but there existed more organic exceptions whose psychedelia was bright and melodic.[1] AllMusic adds: "What's [strange] is that some psychedelic pop is more interesting than average psychedelia, since it had weird, occasionally awkward blends of psychedelia and pop conventions – the Neon Philharmonic's 1969 album The Moth Confesses is a prime example of this."[1]

Notable works (1966–1969) edit


  • Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys – The album came as an indirect result of bandleader Brian Wilson's experimentation with psychedelic drugs. Music journalist Mike McPadden credits it with sparking a psychedelic pop revolution. He says that while psychedelic rock had existed before Pet Sounds, mainly among garage bands like the 13th Floor Elevators, Pet Sounds inspired mainstream pop acts to take part in the psychedelic culture.[3][nb 1]
  • Revolver by the Beatles – According to AllMusic, the album ensured that psychedelia emerged from its underground roots and presented in the mainstream as psychedelic pop.[1] Biographer Ian MacDonald wrote that the album "had initiated a second pop revolution – one which, while galvanising their existing rivals and inspiring many new ones, left all of them far behind".[4]
  • "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys – Proclaimed by journalist Barney Hoskyns as the "ultimate psychedelic pop record" from Los Angeles in its time.[5] Popmatters added: "Its influence on the ensuing psychedelic and progressive rock movements can't be overstated ... [it] changed the way a pop record could be made, the way a pop record could sound, and the lyrics a pop record could have."[6]



  • Odessey and Oracle by the Zombies – AllMusic's Bruce Eder characterizes the album as "some of the most powerful psychedelic pop/rock ever heard out of England".[10] According to Record Bin's Joshua Packard, the album was a "psychedelic pop spectacle". "Care of Cell 44", its opening track, "presents the band as bearers of a new kind of psychedelia, one that relied less on psychotropics and more on the natural abilities of the band. ... [the album] has gained a well-deserved reputation for being one of the greatest pop records of the '60s."[11]

Decline and revivals edit

By the end of the 1960s, psychedelic folk and rock were in retreat. Many surviving acts moved away from psychedelia into either more back-to-basics "roots rock", traditional-based, pastoral or whimsical folk, the wider experimentation of progressive rock, or riff-laden heavy rock.[12][verification needed] Psychedelic influences lasted a little longer in pop music, stretching into the early 1970s.[1]

Psychedelic pop became a component of the neo-psychedelic style. There were occasional mainstream acts that dabbled in the genre, including Prince's mid-1980s work and some of Lenny Kravitz's 1990s output, but it has mainly been the domain of alternative and indie rock bands.[2]

List of artists edit

Notes edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Anon (n.d.). "Psychedelic Pop". AllMusic.
  2. ^ a b c "Neo-Psychedelia". AllMusic. n.d.
  3. ^ a b c McPadden, Mike (May 13, 2016). "The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and 50 Years of Acid-Pop Copycats". The Kind. Archived from the original on November 9, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  4. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 192.
  5. ^ Hoskyns 2009, p. 128.
  6. ^ Interrante, Scott (May 20, 2015). "The 12 Best Brian Wilson Songs". Popmatters.
  7. ^ "British Psychedelia". Allmusic. Archived from the original on January 1, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  8. ^ 'Evolution (Hollies album),' in Oxford 'Encyclopedia of Popular Music.' Edited by Colin Larkin, 2009
  9. ^ Kitts & Tolinski 2002, p. 6.
  10. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Odessey and Oracle". Allmusic.
  11. ^ Packard, Joshua (October 31, 2015). "Record Bin: The psychedelic pop spectacle of The Zombies' "Odessey and Oracle"". Record Bin.
  12. ^ Bogdanov, Woodstra & Erlewine 2002, pp. 1322–1323.

Bibliography edit