Though I find it admirable the love pop punk fans have for the genre with their enthusiasm and taglines of “Defend pop punk” (a saying once coined by Man Overboard), I don’t believe that pop punk needs defending anymore. I think it’s time to realize that though it once was a struggling genre, it is now alive and well, and quite frankly thriving. It may still need our support, but it doesn’t need saving by any means.
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Pop Punk was once in dire straights.
There was a time when pop punk was in dire straights. With releases like Blink-182’s Self-titled, Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue, and Sum 41’s Does This Look Infected?, 2003 turned out to be a huge year for the genre. These albums not only provided a platform for future pop punkers to proudly stand upon, but also increased awareness as well as enhanced both popularity and interest in pop punk as a whole. After 2003, pop punk was on life support. Though great albums surfaced every now and again, momentum was lost. Finally, around 2009-10, albums like, Set Your Goal’s This Will Be The Death of Us, Four Year Strong’s Enemy of The World, and The Wonder Years, The Upsides were released and it set the stage for pop punk to start rebuilding again. But, it was known and loved within certain circles and wasn’t anywhere near what it used to be around 2003. It wasn’t until later, around 2013-14 that it gained major traction again.
So, what changed?
Somewhere along the line, pop punk became all the rage. Many hopefuls lined up at the door to become the next “big” band in the genre. It wasn’t until bands like, like The Wonder Years, The Story So Far, Neck Deep, State Champs, and Real Friends changed the fabric of pop punk that an excitement was rekindled for it within the younger generation of music listeners. With their high energy songs and relatable lyrics, it’s easy to see why happy-go-lucky yet angsty teens are interested in the genre. But, the catchy and infectious tunes aren’t just catching the hearts of teenagers, it’s also elicited excitement within the OG fans as well. The biggest change here, for me, was the level of charisma. Frontmen and bands alike, were not only great musicians, but super-likable, relatable individuals; They were charismatic leaders that arguably saved pop punk from dwelling at the bottom of the rock world. Their passion and tenacity in turn elicited that same level of passion and tenacity within fans, which then spread like a wildfire throughout the world, creating both new and old fans to rise out of the darkness and into the spotlight. Though some may say that the songs of the early 2000’s will always reign supreme, they can’t deny that it is at one of the biggest points it has ever been and is continuing to exponentially grow.
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Here’s a breakdown of today’s pop punk popularity:
Bands like Real Friends are still gaining traction and that shows with 169,556 monthly listeners on Spotify and their songs typically have anywhere from 1-4 millions views. Bands like State Champs are in the forefront of the genre more with a total of 276,148 monthly listeners. Their songs have anywhere from 1-3 million listens. The Story So Far has had even greater success with 312,263 monthly listeners and their songs typically are listened to anywhere from 2-7 million times. Similarly, Neck Deep has 331,458 monthly listeners and anywhere from 1-4 million song listens. Basically, what I’m getting at is that pop punk bands of today are not begging for someone to hear their music or for people to listen to them. Of course, we want it to grow, but it’s no longer in the need of a defense line like a quarterback in constant danger of being taken down. With bands like these continuing to put out influential and cohesive albums, pop punk will continue to thrive and future bands will be inspired to do the same.
Conclusion: Pop Punk is no longer in need of protection.
My point is that pop punk is no longer in need of protection. I know, it’s just a silly little saying said to support it, but is it really? It’s more than that isn’t it? The definition of defend is: resist an attack made on (someone or something); protect from harm or danger. It’s a call-to-action to keep pop punk from going under and it no longer needs that. Yes, history tells us that it goes through highs and lows. But, the pop punk of today isn’t the same as yesteryear. It’s evolved to be more than just a fling people have on their music library. It has transcended music and dug its way into the hearts and lives of millions. Additionally, it has become more of a lifestyle than just a form of music. We need a mantra other than, “Defend pop punk,” because let’s be honest, pop punk, though it needs our support, doesn’t need us to defend it anymore. It’s not dead and it’s not struggling. In fact, it’s very much alive and well and thriving, and it’s time to start celebrating and preaching that instead.
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