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It’s Definitely Not a Phase: Pop Punk Isn’t Dead

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kenyon chapter.

Last week I was listening to a throwback playlist on Spotify and really jamming. Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” had just ended and I was feeling pretty flirty (honestly, who doesn’t feel flirty when they listen to Shakira?) when I heard a single snare drum, followed by the telltale bass line of Fall Out Boy’s “Dance Dance.” That flirty feeling was quickly replaced by a resurgence of my preteen angst and a strong desire to swipe my bangs across my eyes and visit Hot Topic. Those few measures of an old song started a week long pop punk kick that I still haven’t shaken. My music preferences have changed as I’ve grown up, but the one genre to which I routinely come back is pop punk. I guess it wasn’t just a phase.

I had to ask myself why I kept coming back to bands like Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco, Blink-182, Relient K, Paramore, and My Chemical Romance. I’m not 13 anymore and yet I continue revisit the bands and songs that I listened to on repeat while hiding in my bedroom after school, writing lyrics on my Converse and thinking that my parents were lame for refusing to let me go to concerts without adult supervision. I don’t revisit these bands the same way I revisit early Lady Gaga or Destiny’s Child. Revisiting artists like that are brief walks down memory lane and they never last for more than a few hours. But revisiting Panic!’s album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out or Green Day’s Basket Case feels different. It feels like I never actually left.

Artistically speaking, pop punk is an easily recognizable genre that employs power chords, heavily distorted electric guitars, strong bass lines, and poetic, angsty lyrics with anti-establishment undertones usually sung by men with higher vocal ranges. Even someone who doesn’t religiously listen to pop punk would be able to recognize it. The genre features really talented musicians and lyricists, which makes it fun to listen to for the musical qualities alone.

Pop punk also has a distinct aesthetic associated with it. Think about the kids in middle and high school with the artificially dark or dyed hair cut into really choppy layers, heavy eyeliner, snakebite piercings, studded belts, skinny jeans of all colors, and hoodies with thumb holes cut into the sleeves. They’re the kids who didn’t fit in with the “popular” kids in middle school because they felt different.

While I never prescribed to the pop punk aesthetic—I’m a prep, which is the furthest thing from scene, let’s be real—the music resonated with me big time in middle school. I felt isolated, weird, and out of place with the kids whose parents let them hang out without an adult home, went on vacations to Mexico for spring break, and had all of the newest clothes from Abercrombie and Hollister. I was bullied heavily in seventh grade in particular for reasons I still haven’t quite discerned and what I found in pop punk was an articulation of feelings that I couldn’t express myself. Simple Plan’s “I’m Just A Kid” was one of many songs that I listened to on repeat when I got home from a really rough day at school, while “You’re Gonna Go Far Kid” by The Offspring got me in a good enough mood to get off the bus and face the kids who I knew were talking about me when I walked past them.

Revisiting these bands and songs is comforting. Sure, it kind of seems silly now to listen to 30-year-old men whine about lost loves or nights alone, but I think the value in pop punk is the attention to the validity of feelings that gets articulated. There’s a recognition of being deeply misunderstood, but also a call to overcome inner demons, negative outside influences, and come out on the other side stronger, despite the scars that might have collected. Pop punk is still relevant because Jimmy Eat World is still around to remind us that we’re in the middle of the ride.


Check out Her Campus’ playlist Pop Punk Isn’t Dead here!


Image credits: Feature, 1, 2, 3


Sarah Lloyd is a senior History/Art History double major at Kenyon College. In her spare time, she swims for the Kenyon Ladies, works on the Relay For Life Committee, sits on the Senior Class Council, and eats a lot of food.