I know I’m glad I didn’t throw out my MCR t-shirts and spiked combat boots from my middle school emo phase, because they’re coming back. That’s right, welcome to the pop-punk revival, baby!
We’ve all seen it (or more commonly, heard it) all over our social media feeds. Once clean-cut TikTok stars like Jaden Hossler and Nessa Barrett are now sporting gothic-style tattoos, all black ensembles, piercings, and even arm warmers (for the love of God, arm warmers?). Even mega-celebrities like the famously minimalistic Kourtney Kardashian are living for the emo-phase renaissance — she’s now engaged to emo-kid blueprint Travis Barker, the uber-cool, tattooed drummer for pop-punk legends Blink-182.
But pop-punk isn’t only returning as a visual aesthetic. The deafening guitars and heartbeat-drowning drums we know and love are making their way back into mainstream music. Willow Smith went from dropping childhood bangers like “Whip My Hair” and teenage ballads like “Female Energy, Part 2,” to releasing her fourth studio album lately i feel EVERYTHING — an album that draws inspiration from the pop-punk, nu metal, alternative, and grunge genres.
Also in 2021, Olivia Rodrigo took the world by storm with the release of her record-breaking, teen angst-fueled album Sour, which drew comparisons to female pop-punk legends like Avril Lavinge and Paramore. Both Olivia and Willow’s personal styles shifted slightly to fit the new aesthetic of their music, dawning Doc Martens, dark makeup, and a ton of leather.
And finally, unlike the early to mid-2000s, which was ruled by bands full of white dudes (Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, All Time Low), the 2021 pop-punk revival is more diverse and inclusive than ever before. With POC alt-icons like Willow, Meet Me @ The Altar, and Proper. taking the stage, the pop-punk revival is changing the terrain of the music industry as we know it.
While this renaissance is great for former emo kids like myself (who are overjoyed that their interests are finally cool), I often find myself wondering one thing: how far will this whole pop-punk revival go?
Up until now, I’ve been praising the cool aspects of pop-punk: the angsty classics, chunky boots, tattooed boys, and unsaturated photos are the epitome of new-wave cool. But what happens if all of the early to mid-2000’s pop-punk trends make their comeback? What if we all take this a bit too far? Then what?
If pop-punk continues to grow in popularity, we might be ushering in the return of 2000s fashion (I know we all love Y2K, but this decade is consistently ragged on for its terrible trends). Say goodbye to the curly heads of hair, hot-guy mullets, and the soft, flowing locks of male celebrities like Timothee Chalamet: they could easily become replaced by flat-ironed bowl cuts that fall below the eyes. Or even worse, Manic Panic and Splat! hair dye could find its way back into your bathroom and hair care routine, staining your hands and bathroom surfaces for years to come.
And don’t forget about Gen Z’s biggest enemy: skinny jeans. That’s right. After years of buying high-waisted straight-leg jeans, 2021 has already become the year of low-rise denim. What’s not to say that skinny jeans could be the next big thing, undoing all of our progress in banishing them?
But just like the emo era we know and love, the pop-punk space is all about doing what’s different, expressive, and unique to you. After all, wasn’t the movement founded as a way for people to express their emotions through music, clothing, and (yes) hair? And what’s more punk than that?
So, pop in your headphones, turn the volume to MAX, and throw on your broken-in Doc Martens as you wait to buy tickets for the Warped Tour comeback, because it seems as though this new wave of pop-punk is worth riding out.