The year of 1994 was the year that Green Day's Dookie hammered the last nail into Grunge's coffin which made me happy at the time because I was never really a big fan of Grunge music, too depressing for my tasting, even though in my opinion, Nirvana’s Nevermind is without any doubt one of the best rock albums ever produced, I was sick and tired of all that negativity and daddy issues (i’m looking at you, Eddie Vedder) from the Grunge bands. When Green Day reached the top of the charts selling more than 10 million copies of Dookie in the US alone the term “pop-punk” that had been around since the mid to late 1970s made a come back.
I have never heard of “pop-punk” before Green Day but as soon as heard the term I realized that it was spot on. Like it or not B.J. Armstrong managed to write songs with the punk rock energy but also very melodic and catchy, just like every pop song ever done. I was immediately hooked when I heard Green Day for the first time and that would be just the start of my love affair with pop-punk, a music genre that has been around for nearly 40 years, outlived many other genres and managed to keep itself somehow relevant after all these years. I was lucky enough to live through the heydays of the pop-punk mania and in the last twenty one years I witnessed bands come and go, massive waves of popularity and some very low points as well
When Green Day broke into the mainstream no one expected that another band playing similar kind of music could be as successful as they were but what people did not know at the time was that the pop-punk/ punk rock underground scene was flooded with good bands that had been around for almost a decade; NOFX, Rancid, Pennywise, Bad Religion, The Ataris, Lagwagon and of course, The Offspring.
The Offspring managed to sell over six million copies of their album Smash in 1994 and they did that without even being signed to a big record label. The duo Green Day/The Offspring dominated the mid/late 90s pop-punk scene and became a massive mainstream success but by the end of the decade it looked like the writing was on the wall for both bands and the genre. It felt like pop-punk's time in the spotlight was over but that was not what happened.
The 2000s was when pop-punk became absolutely huge. With the release of Blink-182's Enema of the State in 1999 which sold 15 million copies worldwide the genre reached a whole new level of awesomeness and bands such as Sum 41, New Found Glory, Good Charlotte and Simple Plan were among the most played artists on the radio and MTV. pop-punk was everywhere! it felt like great bands were popping up everyday, you just had to go to a website like absolutepunk.net and you would read about all these new bands and most of them were really good, it was a great time to be a fan of rock music but eventually things started getting weird. As usual, record companies saw an opportunity to make a lot of money from the scene and things like Avril Lavigne happened and after three or four years of good times pop-punk reached high levels of saturation and all the bands started to look and sound the same, a copy of a copy of a copy of Blink-182. Change was needed and change was what happened.
In 2003 Blink-182 released their Self titled record. The album was still rooted in punk-pop, but the songs stretched further than that sound. it is a little darker, a little restless, than their other albums. it was an unexpected and welcome maturation for the band. Self Titled raised the bar for all future albums from the scene and suddenly bands were pushing themselves creatively. In 2004 Green Day also re-invented themselves and made a come back with American Idiot. The album was a reaction to U.S. politics and culture post-9/11. Both albums helped to keep pop-punk on the top of the charts and in the minds of the fans. Other bands like Brand New and Say Anything also put out great records around this same time proving that the genre still had a lot of life left in it. Unfortunately in 2005 Blink-182 announced that they would go in an “indefinite hiatus”. Apparently, the massive ego of the band’s guitarist Tom DeLonge reached such a level that it was impossible for them to stay together. Thanks, Tom!
Also in 2005 Fall Out Boy released From Under The Cork Tree. The band were one of first to understand and use the power of the Internet and became one of the favorites of the online social networks (MySpace), adding that to an endless tour schedule Fall Out Boy solidified their rep of the next big thing coming from the pop-punk scene. With clever lyrics and great hooks the songs of this album are incredibly catchy with great choruses that will stay in your mind for the rest of your life. But what separated the band from the others of the same genre was without a doubt Patrick stumps voice, his vocals are so soulful and vibrant! The album was a massive hit and opened the doors to a new wave of bands like My Chemical Romance and Paramore.
By 2009 things had slowed down a bit for pop-punk bands. Fall Out Boy, after a really good run, wet on hiatus in the end of 2008 and bands like Four Year Strong, A Day To Remember and Set Your Goals took the genre to a more “heavy” direction that proved not be as popular as the sing along anthems from the years before. The good news for the fans was the Blink-182 reunion that resulted in a huge worldwide tour that proved pop-punk was still alive. I had a chance to see them play on this tour when I was living in London and I was shocked with the amount of young people that turn up to see the band, it was clear to me that a whole new generation was listen to pop-punk
The last few years were kind of a mixed bag for the genre. Fall Out Boy had their Triumphant return with the release of two albums that reached the top of the billboard charts and very successful tours around the world even though they are much more “pop" than “punk” now. Tom DeLonge’s egocentric behavior got him fired from Blink-182 (way to go,Tom). The Offspring had their second No.1 hit on the Billboard's Mainstream Rock Songs this year, nearly 18 years after of the first one and Green Day have been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 2015 which means that they are officially “dad-rock" now.
But the most unusual thing that happened to pop-punk in the last few years was the surging of the boy band 5 Seconds of Summer. The boys started their careers covering pop-punk songs on YouTube and now they are one of the most popular bands between tweens. The opinion about the band in the pop-punk scene is torn. Some thinks that this kind of exposure is good for the scene and will bring more fans and help to keep it on the mainstream but others think that the band and their management are just opportunists ripping off the scene in order to make some money out of it and that their songs sound "put-together" and heartless.
When it comes to pop-punk, there is no middle ground - you either love it or you hate it. I personally don't listen to it as much as I used to but I know that it means a lot for many people. It has been around for many years and it will not go anywhere any time soon.