Pop Goes the World

Will Schwartz and Hey Willpower want you to think about why you like pop, or, barring that, get your booty bouncin'

Whether or not this music makes you pause to ponder the meaning of pop in your life depends on the kind of person you are; if it doesn't make you want to walk the dinosaur, though, you may consider checking to see if you have a pulse. "I definitely want that to be a big huge part of it," says Schwartz, "losing yourself in fun dance music." Can't hang with that? Well, as the song says: "We can dance if we want to/ We can leave your friends behind/ 'Cause your friends don't dance and if they don't dance/ Well, they're no friends of mine."

See, the thing is, Schwartz writes melodies the way that that Cyrano de Bergerac guy wrote love letters. And they aren't electro or synth-pop or even electronica melodies; they sound like smooth R&B, like teeny-bopper boy bands and Babyface. Really, the only thing that keeps the music of Hey Willpower from being, like, completely mainstream is the DIY production. The tunes are crisp and beat-heavy, with more hooks than a nun's brassiere, but they're definitely low-budge.

"People say, 'Man, you sound like Justin Timberlake. Maybe you should make it edgier,'" explains Schwartz. "But to me, it's much more subversive to keep it the way it is."

Not surprisingly, mega-pop wack jobs the Scissor Sisters have tuned in to what Hey Willpower is doing, asking the band to open for them on their recent tour; Schwartz and friends just finished up a tour with the subversive sirens of Le Tigre as well. These not-so-minor achievements -- which are all the more impressive considering the group has yet to even put out its debut (look for it in the spring) -- raise an odd, slightly ironic question: What if Hey Willpower's postmodern pop becomes the next big thing? Will the 14-year-old studio audience of TRL be screaming Will Schwartz's name one of these days?

"If that happens," he says, with one of his self-effacing chuckles, "then we'll just have to take pop music further."

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