So You Thought Pop Punk Was Dead?

Gemma Cockrell

You may have put away your Vans and striped fingerless gloves too soon. Sure, it’s not the early 2000s anymore, but the 2020s have arrived and so has a new iteration of pop-punk. Gemma Cockrell takes a look at the new era spearheaded by Blink 182’s Travis Barker and featuring some unlikely frontrunners including Yungblud, Trippie Redd, TikTok’s Lil Huddy, as well as Machine Gun Kelly.

Pop-punk first saw mainstream success in the mid-to-late nineties, with the release of albums such as Green Day’s Dookie and Blink-182’s Enema Of The State. With both bands continuing to release albums throughout the early 2000s, this time period saw the emergence of more pop-punk artists than ever, including Avril Lavigne, All Time Low, Fall Out Boy, and Good Charlotte. However, in more recent years, pop-punk is a genre that has been placed on the backburner in terms of mainstream success, despite maintaining a consistent and dedicated underground fanbase.

In the early-to-mid 2010s, there was a resurgence of new pop-punk bands bursting onto the scene, including The Story So Far, State Champs, and Neck Deep. The latter of which, entirely self-aware that their pop-punk sound was nothing new or revolutionary, branded themselves with the slogan “generic pop-punk” which would appear on their early merchandise. A perfect gateway band to pop-punk also emerged at the forefront of the mainstream at around the same time, in the form of 5 Seconds of Summer. Sure, they make pop music with only a small tinge of punk influence, but their pop-punk aesthetic in 2013, complete with ripped black jeans, facial piercings, and extravagantly dyed hair, gave teenagers the potential to discover the alternative music scene for the very first time. Despite 5SOS not being enough to help pop-punk make a full resurgence back into the mainstream, they helped to maintain and expand the genre’s fanbase behind the scenes.

Blink 182’s Travis Barker has been a significant figure at the forefront of pop punk’s vibrant resurgence

During the late 2010s, the underground genre of SoundCloud emo-rap would begin to gain mainstream momentum. Lil Peep, Lil Uzi Vert, and Juice WRLD rapped over emo-tinged guitar-driven hip-hop beats, crediting the genre of pop-punk as a source of influence for their sound. Despite being radically different from the classic pop-punk genre, it captured pop punk’s emotional angst and grit, giving the genre a new lease of life during a time period where hip-hop and trap dominated the mainstream charts.

Rapper Machine Gun Kelly, despite never having been part of the SoundCloud emo rap movement himself, took to Twitter in December 2019 to declare that he would be releasing a “pop-punk album”; he proved that he was a man of his word in September 2020 when he released his fifth studio album, Tickets to My Downfall, executively produced by Blink-182’s very own drummer Travis Barker. It reached number 1 on the Billboard charts, proving that pop-punk had the potential to become mainstream once again.

Travis Barker has been a significant figure at the forefront of pop punk’s vibrant resurgence, facilitating its second rise to the mainstream by collaborating with this new generation of alternative artists including Machine Gun Kelly, YUNGBLUD, and Trippie Redd. Another artist who has dabbled in the pop-punk genre with the help of Barker is LILHUDDY, who also starred in Machine Gun Kelly’s directional debut, Downfalls High. After building up a widespread audience on TikTok, he is on a new mission to transform this social media popularity into a fully-fledged music career.

TikTok has played a crucial role in the resurgence of pop-punk, with songs from eras past sound-tracking viral trends that have circulated on the platform in recent years, including songs from bands like All Time Low, Simple Plan, and Paramore. These trends have led to over 658.3 million videos on TikTok being tagged with the hashtag #poppunk, and they have created the potential for the 16-24 age bracket to experience either fond nostalgia or new discovery of previously unheard music from the past.

Pop punk was existing in the background of the music industry all this time, resting dormant

Maybe pop-punk was never really dead at all. Maybe it never will die. Instead, it was existing in the background of the music industry all this time, resting dormant, and waiting to rear its head in the mainstream once again in the future. And in the year of 2020, when Gen-Z are expressing themselves more freely and openly than ever before in the online realm, it seems like the perfect time for it to do so.

Gemma Cockrell

Featured image courtesy of Alex Tinder via Flickr. Image use license found here. No changes made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of LILHUDDY via Facebook.  Images granted to Impact by their owners. No changes made to this image.

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