OMG, that link was really bad - lol. Ok, I see where you're coming from now :)
In the vid with the studio take it sounded like he was influenced by Jim Morrison's vocal style, and it sounded less natural for him than it was with Jimbo. He clearly didn't have the monitors on stage to help him pull off his faux-baritone voice. Funny what bad monitors can do to a singer. Plenty of decent singers have gone off key when they can't hear themselves. He pulls it off in the studio, and once people are fans they'll forgive a lot live.
Interesting point about pop, Ken. Still, what label could you apply to songs like Brian Hyland's Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
or The Archies's Sugar Sugar
How about "commercial" instead of "pop"?