Past the Pinnacle of Pop Punk’s Popularity

Megan Lickhalter


In the past year, the pop punk genre has made a comeback into mainstream media, thanks to up-and-coming band, 5 Seconds of Summer and their fanbase.

  Punk music began in the ‘70s with bands such as the Sex Pistols and the Ramones, but did not become popularized or mainstream until the ‘90s.  Pop punk took the heavy guitar and fast tempo from classic punk and combined it with the catchy melodies of pop songs. The pop punk scene remained underground and independent until Green Day signed with major record label Reprise Records in 1993.  The band received a lot of hate from the pop punk community, but paved the way for many pop punk bands to come.

  In 1999, blink-182 came out with their album Enema of the State and sold over 5 million copies.  During this era, along with Green Day and blink-182, other pop punk bands such as Good Charlotte, Sum 41, Jimmy Eat World, and many others were played on MTV as well as hit radio stations.

  With the commercialization of pop punk, a new wave of bands came onto the scene and incorporated a more emo sound.  This is the most familiar era of pop punk for the current generation of teenagers.  Bands such as Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, and My Chemical Romance experienced great success in the early 2000s.  They had many chart topping songs, sold millions of albums, and won awards at shows such as MTV’s Video Music Awards.  Green Day’s popularity during this era with the release of American Idiot, earning them their first #1 album on the Billboard Charts as well as a Grammy for Best Rock Album.

  Pop punk’s popularity declined towards the end of the first decade of the 2000s. The genre stopped being played on the radio, popular bands stopped making albums and those that continued did not sell well, as the pop punk scene became oversaturated.  The only bands that continued to do well were the leaders of the genre, blink-182 and Green Day; the other bands that emerged during pop punk’s peak became irrelevant.

  However, in the past year, pop punk has regained relevance.  This revival is largely attributed to popular Australian band 5 Seconds of Summer.  There is a lot of controversy surrounding the band’s legitimacy in the pop punk genre, as many people like to label them as a boy band.  But the band came together on their own, write their own songs, and play their own instruments.  The only things that suggest “boy band” about them are their good looks and their association with One Direction.

  5 Seconds of Summer, known by their fans as 5SOS, formed as many other bands did; they were friends from school who shared a love for music.  After coming together, they posted covers on YouTube, and were discovered by Louis Tomlinson of One Direction. Tomlinson asked 5SOS to open for them on their Take Me Home tour in 2013.  At first 5SOS were hesitant because they thought people would call them the next One Direction, but ultimately they decided people would be able to hear the differences between their sounds, and that it would be beneficial to reach to a wider audience.

  One Direction’s fan base took a liking to 5SOS, and earned them many new fans.  The force behind One Direction’s fan base is a powerful one, catapulting any artist that they support into unthinkable levels of fame and success due to their dedicated and obsessive nature.  5SOS often credit classic pop punk bands blink-182 and Green Day as the reason they got into music.  Looking for a greater connection to their favorite band, 5SOS’s fans started listening to the same bands 5SOS listen to, and brought back the popularity of pop punk.

  Fans rediscovered the bands they listened to when they were younger, such as Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco, making them relevant once again.  As teenagers, they relate to the meaning behind the songs.  There a feeling of nostalgia that comes with the music, as well as a feeling that someone understands them.

  “No matter what mood I’m in, I can always find a pop punk song that fits it,” said Malibu High School senior, Audrey Bushnell.

  The subject matter in pop punk songs ranges from hating school, being mad at parents, or wanting to overthrow the system.  It is all stuff that speaks to the angst of the teenage mind.  The songs provide hope and comfort that other people feel the same way, and reassures fans that everything will be okay.

  Along with drawing new fans to the pop punk genre, 5SOS is also drawing people from within the community back in.  For their new album, Sounds Good Feels Good, which comes out on October 23, they wrote with many big names in the pop punk industry, such as Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat of All Time Low, Deryck Whibley of Sum 41, and Joel and Benji Madden of Good Charlotte.

  “Every time we would write a song with [Benji and Joel], they would say, ‘We wanna write a Good Charlotte record!’” said guitarist and lead singer of 5SOS, Luke Hemmings, in an interview with Rolling Stone.

  Good Charlotte has not released an album since Cardiology in 2010, yet the Madden brothers were inspired by these four boys to get back in the game.  5SOS has managed to ignite a spark in the pop punk world that has not been lit since blink-182 and Green Day lead the mainstream pop punk movement.

  5SOS guitarist Michael Clifford said, “I think in two years, we could either be seen as the leaders of the new pop-punk wave or we could be seen as ‘that shitty One Direction support band.’ But as far as our vision goes, all we’ve ever wanted to do is to be seen as bringing back guitars. That’s been our goal since we started: What if we could get a song in the Top 20 that had guitars in it?”


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