March 29, 2016

I’m 26 and Still Listen to Pop-Punk Everyday

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As I get older, I notice the same reactions when I tell people my favorite genre of music is pop-punk. It’s a startled look of, “Oh, really?” and “Like, blink-182? When’s the last time they put out music?”

It seems these days, most casual music listeners don’t even realize pop-punk is still an existing genre. Every so often a new band emerges and garners some mainstream success like Say Anything, Paramore or Fall Out Boy. I know what pop-punk fans are thinking; “These bands aren’t new and there’s tons of bands out there with a lot more success in the last 5 years.” Imagine probing a typical high school English class or a freshman Philosophy course and asking them if they’ve ever heard of Neck Deep, State Champs, The Wonder Years, or The Story So Far? I suspect the results will not be favorable. Pop-punk has gone through several phases since the mid-90’s and right now there’s set to be a resurgence.

There seems to be a disconnect with a portion of the millennial generation and pop-punk. Pop-punk saw its first huge surge in the late 90’s with bands like Blink-182, Green Day, Sum 41, and New Found Glory populating the airwaves and generating fun music videos on MTV and Fuse. This was heaven for the pop-punk community as they garnered mainstream success and started an influential movement that has given us the bands we have today. Even now, it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t know “All The Small Things, Ocean Avenue, or When I Come Around.” Right around 2006 is when things started to dip. Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, and Paramore were keeping the scene exciting and fresh, but it was the beginning of an inevitable shift downwards. The popularity of pop-punk hadn’t reached the levels it did in the late 90’s. Pop-punk started becoming synonymous with phrases like “middle-school/high school music,” “angsty teen music,” or my personal favorite “music that whines about relationships.” The majority of casual music listeners stopped listening to pop-punk after their mainstream appearance faded and many saw the genre of pop-punk as a “phase of the early 2000’s.”

So what if you never left that “phase?” What if you followed the genre to where it stands today? You’re left with more bands than you can possibly imagine. I grew up listening to Blink, Green Day, and Sum 41. These are the bands that taught me a love for music, inspired me to pick up an instrument, find some of my best friends. What many people forget is that these bands grew up too. Their music doesn’t center around the same adolescent problems we faced when we were 15-18. Their lyrics cover a variety of topics including: death of a loved one, depression, career decisions, and loneliness. The genre has expanded its musical boundaries from simple power chords to complex riffs, timing changes, and even concept albums. I listen to pop-punk for the energy and because it’s catchy as hell. The variety of bands I listen to can have me screaming my lungs out in joy or sorrow. I love rolling down my windows on a summer day and blasting Transit as I head out to do errands.

Pop-punk is alive and well. More well-known artists in pop-punk are signing with record labels such as Hopeless, Rise, and Fearless. If someone wants to listen to pop-punk they have to actively seek it out. It’s no longer commonplace to hear artists on the radio or see their music videos on television. It takes effort. Thankfully, with rising record labels like Pure Noise Records and Take This To Heart Records, the genre is finding these amazing artists and giving them a bigger platform to be heard. Bands like Knuckle Puck and Counterparts are leading the heavier pop-punk era to new and exciting heights while older veterans like Yellowcard and Simple Plan have evolved their sound to fit with the times.

It is disheartening when someone scoffs at the mention pop-punk based on pre-conceived notions they had when they stopped following the genre over 10 years ago. How could someone lump all these artists together and dismiss them as being focused on “relationship problems” or “an immature phase.” For example, if you compare the raw, emotionally charged music of The Hotelier to the fast-paced positivity of Neck Deep,  you will notice an astounding difference. Granted, both of those bands do have a few tracks that might qualify for “whining about relationships,” but that shouldn’t define who they are. They offer so much to so many different audiences. The thing that cracks me up is that whenever I show someone the newer pop-punk I listen to, they really enjoy it! If only they would give it a chance again, they could find something really special in it.

What does pop-punk means to me? Everything. I find myself relating to their lyrics, jumping around to the beats, humming the catchy choruses in my head, and genuinely making me excited for the day. There’s a level of energy not present in any other genre and it’s addicting. There is something for everyone. If you’re craving harsh vocals and melodies, The Story So Far and Like Pacific are up your alley. If you want to relive the nostalgia of the early 2000s, Seaway and The Spacepimps are right here. I could go on about the joy of pop-punk concerts, but, that’s another piece for another time. With all of the tools available to audiences today (YouTube, Bandcamp, Spotify) it’s very easy to find new artists and I all but guarantee there’s something for everyone. I implore you to check out the genre’s finest today. Being 26 and listening to pop-punk every day might make you think I haven’t grown up. I’d argue, I’ve done exactly that.

Written by: Patrick Marion

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