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Pop punk

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Pop punk

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Punk rock
Stylistic origins: 1950s R&B, rock and roll, country, and rockabilly, 1960s garage rock, frat rock, psychedelic rock, pub rock, glam rock, and proto-punk
Cultural origins: Mid 1970s United States, Australia and United Kingdom.
Typical instruments: Vocals – Guitar – Bass – Drums
Mainstream popularity: Chart-topping in the UK, less success elsewhere. Some success for pop punk, especially ska punk and Two Tone
Derivative forms: Alternative rock – Emo – Gothic rock – Grunge – Math rock – New Wave – Post-punk – post-punk revival
Anarcho-punk – Christian punk – Crust punk – Garage punk – Hardcore – Horror punk – Oi! – Pop punk
Fusion genres
Anti-folk – Chicano punk – Death rock – Funkcore – Jazz punk – Psychobilly – Queercore – Ska punk – Two Tone
Other topics
History – Cassette culture – Fashion

Pop punk is a term applied to a style of punk rock music, most popular in the 2000s but beginning in the late 1970s. The sound broke into the mainstream with the popularity of Green Day and The Offspring's respective albums Dookie and Smash. The style of music is usually more melodic than other punk rock.




Pop Punk is a musical style which emerged at the on-set of punk rock in 1974 with America's counterpart of England's Sex Pistols and the Clash - The Ramones (who actually formed before the Sex Pistols or the Clash). The Ramones were trying to bring about a rock and roll revival and were huge fans of The Beatles and of 1960s Bubblegum pop. During 1975 their sped-up buzz saw, loud and fast, minimalistic melodic rock differentiated them from other groups who were lumped in with punk's early artists such as Television, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Talking Heads etc. Though The Ramones themselves would never have a number 1 hit, and never crossed over completely to mainstream culture, they would set the stage for the pop punk genre.

Power-pop bands like The Raspberries, Pezband, The Records, and especially The Nerves showed elements that laid the groundwork for pop-punk.

In Britain, the best-known examples of Pop-punk were likely The Undertones and The Buzzcocks. Both bands featured catchy hooks and lyrics centered around teenage romantic issues. The Undertones are a particularly good example of the genre. The Rezillos The Boys, and the Only Ones are also excellent examples of early Pop-punk. On the somewhat harder-edged side of things, there were bands like 999, The Vibrators, The Adicts, and The Lurkers. Many Mod Revival bands also displayed Pop-punk elements, particularly The Chords and The Purple Hearts.

The early 1980s was a time of reaction against the images offered up by the mass media about punks. Hardcore developed in response which claimed greater authority over what was actually punk. Black Flag and Minor Threat on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts are just two prime examples of this phenomenon. The music nabbed the aggression and violence of the Sex Pistols, ran away from the pop conscious sounds of The Ramones, and incorporated politics from the Clash into their music to an even greater degree. This sound was predominant through much of the 1980s. Despite this dominance, several bands instilled into their hardcore influenced songs a tunefulness and love of pop melody. These bands were The Descendents, Hόsker Dό, the Replacements and the Misfits.

As Hardcore became more standard other groups began to respond by embracing pop hooks again and catchy melodies as an alternative to the hard speed sounds of hardcore. By this point punk in America, which had been confined to urban environments in the late 1970s and 80s, was really permeating all across the country. MTV which had begun in the 80s was still rather young and had yet to embrace much punk music either. By the 1990s many of the bands that had started in the late 80s and 90s were getting better and more experienced.

The influence of college rock and Lookout! Records

By the middle of 1980s hardcore was beginning to slow down, with Black Flag, Minor Threat and Dead Kennedys all splitting up within a few years of each other. Many other bands who did manage to stay together either outgrew the style as they became more technically proficient musicians and better songwriters, with many moving into thrash metal territory, or forming entirely new bands to play music that didn't adhere to hardcore's strict "Loud Fast Rules" philosophy.

At a similar time college rock became more popular due to its reliance on poppy, catchy melodies rather than noise, aggression and violence as had been the case with hardcore. Bands like R.E.M., Camper Van Beethoven, Beat Happening, Dinosaur Jr and the Pixies led the way alongside bands such as Hόsker Dό and The Replacements who had evolved out of the hardcore scene into the more accessible sound of alternative rock. Inspired by this new, but less well known bands were formed such as The Donner Party and Dead Milkmen. Something similar happened in post punk Britain with the rise of Twee pop, a style of music strongly influenced by jangly guitar pop bands like The Byrds and The Smiths as well as early R.E.M. and Pacific Northwest indie institution Beat Happening.

In 1988, Larry Livermore started a record label called Lookout! Records. Based in California, the label initially specialised entirely in a sunny, upbeat take on punk rock that both strongly recalled the thrashy bubblegum pop of The Ramones and stood in opposition to the Hardcore punk movement that had ruled the North American punk scene in the early-mid '80s. In this way it was similar to college rock in America and twee pop in Britain but it was different enough to establish an audience outside of both these scenes whilst possessing a similar spirit.

Lookout! Records were in an enviable position as they arrived at the right time to capitalize on this desire for rock music that was catchy and accessible but with an underground cool about it. Some of the Lookout! bands broke through into the mainstream in the 1990s after the release of Nirvana's major label debut Nevermind in 1991 proved that punk rock bands could shift millions of units and get onto commercial radio and MTV.

Green Day and the first wave of California pop punk

It wasn't until 1994 that the melodic strand of punk inspired by the Ramones broke through on par with Nirvana's success. Green Day's album Dookie was the record which put pop punk on the map. The record was a huge commercial success, both in terms of sales and exposure on commercial radio and MTV. The Offspring's breakthrough album Smash arrived a couple of months later, selling more than 11 million copies and becoming the biggest selling release of all time on an independent record label.

Other bands like Rancid and NOFX were pulling their weight and selling out huge concert halls. In addition many of the bands of the late '80s and early '90s who championed this style such as Crimpshrine, Jawbreaker, Screeching Weasel,the Queers, Squirtgun and The Descendents just to name a few found a public much more ready for their sound. Lookout! Records was one of the main labels behind Green Day and others. Fat Wreck Chords (owned by Fat Mike of NOFX) and Epitaph Records (owned by Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion) also hosted pop punk artists, though they had a reputation for a more aggressive and diverse roster.

The overnight success and sell-out status controversy of Green Day created a media whirlwind which reached all corners of the country. In response, teens all over picked up guitars and started bands, many hoping to achieve what Green Day and The Offspring had done. Green Day was formed in the late '80s and was caustically anti-major label, turning down offers from the majors for years, as did The Offspring, who formed in 1984. Maximum RocknRoll, which, apart from being a magazine, was anti-major labels and anti-corporate advertising, had supported Green Day and many other bands which eventually went on to sign with majors. However, it was necessary for them to sign with major labels in order for their music to be heard.

Blink-182 and the second wave of Southern Californian pop punk

In 1999, blink-182 released their breakthrough album Enema of the State. Whereas Green Day and their contemporaries had not really altered their sound during the move from indie to major label, blink-182's breakthrough record boasted a radio friendly sound and slick production when compared to the more trashy sound of their independently released recordings. The album disappointed some fans who accused them of selling out, blatantly softening their sound in pursuit of major success and playing the major label game by the book. However with the Internet full steam ahead, the accessibility of music and the impending dot com bubble and burst on the horizon, more and more kids were downloading songs and listening to music which would have previously been outside their "domain." The result was that all subcultures became much more accessible and as such also lost their potency. The listeners of music now were also probably listening to hundreds of other bands probably overlapping several genres.

Despite, or perhaps because of this, Enema of the State became the band's most commercially successful release to date, garnering much radio airplay and widespread airing of the band's pop-parody music video for "All the Small Things". Their next album, Take off Your Pants and Jacket continued their commercial success and was similar in style to Enema of the State, alternating thrashy choruses with chuggy verses and combining the catchy melodies and anthemic choruses of Green Day with American Pie-style humour. Following the success of the album, major recording labels began heavily recruiting and promoting pop punk acts.

Bands such as Good Charlotte and Sum 41 had hits on both sides of the Atlantic following this mass signing of punk bands by major labels. These, as well as lesser known bands such as Bowling for Soup(despite forming in 1994), became prime targets for criticism. They were perceived as adding little-to-nothing to the pop punk sound that already existed and were criticised from certain quarters that viewed them as pure careerists, apeing a sound that had reached its conclusion years ago, purely to become rich and famous.

This style has spread worldwide even to countries like Argentina, where the local band Smile is a national success.

The new millennium

The new millennium brought on a host of major label pop punk groups which pushed catchy singalong melodies and simple sugar-coated guitar solos. The emo strain had also crossed back into the punk genre. New Found Glory mocked and embraced the "boy band" culture surrounding Britney Spears, N'Sync, and Backstreet Boys. Allister, The Ataris, Midtown, Fall Out Boy, The All-American Rejects, Simple Plan, and Good Charlotte are some of the bands achieving widespread notoriety. Bowling For Soup also clocked in with some nerd tunes with almost a nod to parody artist Weird Al Yankovic.

On the other end of the commercial spectacle, pop-punk is still thriving, and generally getting its cues from the Ramones or melodic hardcore as opposed to emocore. A term that has arisen to define this non-commercial vein of modern pop-punk has been buzzpop, with punk rock and pop-punk commentator Mitch Clem advocating the term.

blink-182 released their first untitled album, a top-seller which was more introspective with not a single joke song, marking a progression from their previous American Pie-records. The album was much acclaimed but didn't outsell their Enema of the State. Soon after, the band entered into a hiatus, with bandmembers devoting to solo projects.

Bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker aligned with the female singer Carol Heller, formerly of Get The Girl, to release a new album by the name of Plus 44, scheduled for projected release in the summer of 2006. Guitarist and vocalist Tom DeLonge formed new band Angels and Airwaves - including The Offspring drummer Atom Willard, Box Car Racer guitarist David Kennedy and The Distillers bassist Ryan Sinn - with debut album We Don't Need to Whisper to be released in May 23, 2006.

In early 2001, one of the pioneers of the pop-punk genre, the Chicago-based band Screeching Weasel disbanded a few months after playing a sold-out show with Yesterday's Kids and The Queers at the House of Blues in Chicago. Following the break-up, Screeching Weasel guitarist John Jughead formed an acoustic pop-punk band, which he christened Even in Blackouts in reference to the band's capability to perform sans electrification. EiB, as the band is sometimes known, has toured extensively and put out two full-lengths and an EP. The band has won praise from critics and fans alike for their musicianship and for the new twist that have put on the pop-punk genre. Although plans were announced for a Screeching Weasel reunion tour in the fall of 2004, these failed to come to fruition. The band's frontman, Ben Weasel is currently beginning work on an eponymous solo project.

Common misconceptions about pop punk

Pop punk is sometimes associated with the label emo. Emo is a form of hardcore punk that places emphasis on emotion in the music, lyrics, and voice. True emo has no relation to the current "emo" trend – pop punk is associated with emo in recent years because of bands like Jimmy Eat World & Get Up Kids who borrowed many post-emo ideas earlier in their careers, but have since been heavily affected by their respective major label deals in a way that means their music presently bears only slight similarities to post-emo. Post-emo is an offshoot of the emo genre that took the emphasis on emotion in the music, lyrics, and vocals and combined it with the mellower sound of indie music. Detractors of pop-punk consider it actually what punk was originally intended to rebel against, the stereotyped ideal pop culture – leaving the term a whole oxymoron. Some claim that pop punk is still a subculture of punk. Pop punk has expanded so much in recent years that it is difficult for teens to well understand the culture. Bands such as Busted and Mcfly exemplify this increased expansion and popularity of the genre by further blurring the line between 'punk' and 'pop'. Although labelled as 'boy-bands' by sceptical pop-punkers, the fast, trashy, cheesy and guitar driven catchiness of Busted in particular, and more recently, Son of Dork, resonates strongly with the pop-punk sound however sugar coated it has become. It could be said these British bands, Freefaller being another example, epitomise 'Punk-pop' as opposed to 'Pop-punk'.

The term pop punk began as a term describing "poppier" punk. It has now come to also mean (depending on usage) "popular" punk.

Underground pop punk

Parallel to the influx of mainstream pop punk bands, there are still a number that remain underground. Bands like Groovie Ghoulies from California, Screeching Weasel from Chicago, The Zatopeks from England, Some Garage Band from Defiance, Ohio, and Moral Crux from Washington have obtained a large fanbase without following the mainstream. Redscare Records is also emerging as a new label dedicated only to pop punk acts (For a partial listing of current underground bands see the Independent Pop Punk section below).

In the punk community, listening to underground pop punk does not always have the stigma attached to listening to their mainstream counterparts.

External links

Punk rock
Anarcho-punk - Anti-folk - Crust punk - Garage punk - Hardcore - Post-hardcore - Horror punk - New Wave - No Wave - Noise rock - Oi! - Pop punk - Post-punk - Psychobilly - Deathcountry - Riot grrrl - Ska punk - Streetpunk - Two Tone
Other topics
Styles of pop music
Bubblegum pop - Futurepop - Indie pop - Pop punk - Pop-rap - Power pop - Synthpop/Electropop - Teen pop - Traditional pop
Other topics
Boy band - Girl group - Popular music

Home | Up | Surf music | Synth pop | Baroque pop | Bubblegum pop | Pop punk | Pop rock | Pop-rap | Traditional pop music | Boy band

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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