Column: Is pop-punk back?

Ayron Rutan, Staff Writer

If you were a teenager or young adult in the early 2000s, it’s likely that you and your friends were listening to bands like Blink-182, Sum 41, Green Day and Simple Plan in the way that people of that same demographic today listen to Drake, The Weeknd and Ariana Grande. 

The dominant genre of music on the airwaves shifts with every decade. Rock and its many forms ruled radio from the late 80s into the 2000s, with pop and hip-hop taking the lead in recent years. But that seems to be changing as we move into the 2020s. The pop-punk soundtracks of the era of Dickies shorts, spiky hair and “American Pie” are finding their way back into the spotlight through the music of today. 

Since the release of Machine Gun Kelly’s 2020 LP “Tickets to My Downfall”, new pop-punk artists have been getting big all over. Artists like Mod Sun, Jdxn and Oliver Tree are rising up the charts to join their pop and hip-hop counterparts. 

This new batch of artists features a different sound however, showing signs of a new iteration of the pop-punk genre. Elements of hip-hop are extremely prevalent, including trap beats and booming electronic bass. It seems that rather than try and knock hip-hop off its mainstream pedestal with a more defined sound, the pop-punk of today is assimilating by borrowing sounds and techniques.

This rise in popularity stemming from albums like MGK’s “Tickets to My Downfall” and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour” begs the question: Is pop-punk back? 

It would seem so, but an argument could be made that the new sounds and influences we are hearing could be the start of a totally new sub-genre. This evolution of pop-punk is somewhat mirroring the Nu Metal craze of the late 90s, when metal and hip-hop joined forces with artists like Limp Bizkit and Korn. 

But while the sound may be different, many of pop-punk’s hallmarks are still present. Songs about youth, heartbreak and disenfranchisement are still just as abundant now as they were at the turn of the century. Fast guitars and loud drums still make their way into each song, along with the youthful and nasally vocals so many were accustomed to hearing in the early 2000s. 

With that being said I think it’s completely safe to say that pop-punk is back, but in a completely new way. The genre seems to have reinvented itself to appeal to a much larger audience and has done it in a way that doesn’t feel tacky or forced. 

It’s incredibly diverse as well, with artists who more on the punk end like Jdxn and Sueco and artists who feature more hip-hop sounds like Ian Dior. 

While some of its trademark sounds and styles aren’t as present in its modern-day interpretation, today form of pop-punk is still all about youth, rebellion and sometimes just good old-fashion fun. It’s back and pushing rock into the mainstream for the first time in nearly 20 years.