A few months ago Austin Moorhead did a ranking of Top 10 Pop Punk bands of all time. The following Sunday hungover and miserable Derrik read me the list. To which I was offended. Pop Punk is my music genre of choice, and I am a self proclaimed guardian of the genre. It wasn’t that Austin’s list was bad it was just shallow. It didn’t dig past the “Golden Age” of Pop Punk. The days of Sum 41 showing up on TRL to debut their new video. The pure joy of Blink-182 playing at the MTV Music Video Awards with midgets jumping on trampolines. As much fun as that all was Pop Punk as a genre has evolved and has always been around. It has existed for a very distinct reason, and will continue to exist. It’s a taste of teenage emotions that sometimes still hold very real weight to adults. It is the genre for the young at heart.
So in response to Austin I made a playlist. The link can be found here.
However it occurred to me that in spite of my extensive knowledge of the subject that I am just a single human. So I pulled twenty people. 15 dudes and 5 dudets of varying age and background. I asked each of them to give me their top 10 Pop Punk bands of all time. The results were telling. The pool produced seventy different bands. Breaking the results up into six very distinct factions.
The Undisputed Kings
Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy were leaps and bounds above all over band. With Blink securing 14 votes and FOB with 13 votes. This came as no surprise to me. Blink were the guys who made Pop Punk cool and Fall Out Boy perfected it. Fall Out Boy were also one of the main headliners through the Emo era, arguably the 2nd greatest Pop Punk subgenre behind the TRL days. Enema of the State, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, Take This To Your Grave, and From Under the Cork Tree are all staple of the genre. These bands produced the biggest hits of the decades and became icons because of it.
Emo’s Top Four
The next grouping all finished with eight votes a piece. New Found Glory, My Chemical Romance, Paramore, and All Time Low. This is a heavy mix of Emo and Neon Monster Merch bands that competed for attention through the mid to late 2000’s. With the godfathers NFG getting some much needed respect in this grouping. All of these band in the had their peak in the late 2000’s.. Albums like Riot, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, and New Found Glory’s Greatest hits were in escapable. These bands allowed us to hold on to teenage anx as we made key transitions in our lives. Their music still rings true today and deserve a seat at the table.
The one band in this grouping that is important to mention individually is New Found Glory. NFG were one of the mainstays of the TRL era of Pop Punk. When the genre began to lose steam instead of switching genres to try to stay popular NFG doubled down on Pop Punk. They continued to tour and put out new music. This allowed them to help bring along new bands that would go on to re-define the genre and give it today’s current landscape. A Day To Remember, Four Year Strong, The Wonder Years, set your goals, The Story So Far, all owe a piece of their success to NFG. So for that they deserve a whole pizza and a fresh pair of vans.
This bunching is comprised of eight bands that finished with five or four votes. Green Day, Sum 41 and Four Year Strong all pulled in five a piece. Yellowcard, Panic! At The Disco, A Day To Remember, The Wonder Years and Neck Deep all had four. This grouping I think really puts on display the age gap that I pulled.
Green Day can be classified in four genres, Punk, Pop Punk Emo, and Arena Rock. In fact if you typed any of those into a music streaming service chances are you would hear Green Day on all of them. Green Day’s importance to the genre can not be overstated. Without them Blink-182 never has the mainstream success. So it’s important to recognize the band for that. I also think had Green Day stopped making music after American Idiot they may have been higher on this list. However their continuing feeble attempts to be the biggest rock band in the world has villainized them to their once diehard fanbase.
Sum 41 and Yellowcard are the stallworth’s of the TRL generation. Each band has at least five iconic songs, that when played in a public are immediately recognized and belted out.
Four Year Strong and A Day To Remember are the best of the sub genre called Easy Core. A term invented by New Found Glory in the late 2000’s as a joke to describe the lineup they were touring with. That tour featured both A Day To Remember and Four Year Strong. Since the Easy Core boom ADTR have gone on to be a global success selling out multi thousand seat venues, whereas Four Year Strong have become the veterans of the Pop Punk scene and continue to help bring along new bands.
This grouping also is the first showing of the current Pop Punk scene. The Wonder Years and Neck Deep are arguably the two biggest bands in the genre today. Sure The Wonder Years sound has changed dramatically since The Upsides and Suburbia, but at their core they still play Pop Punk. Whereas Neck Deep has really become the flag bearers for the genre in the past few years. Leading the latest subgenre of “New Emo” to the forefront.
This grouping all pulled in three votes a piece, and I think it’s pretty easy to see why. The Starting Line, The Offspring, Bayside, Good Charlotte, Mayday Parade, AFI, and Cartel. These band are sort of the meat of the genre. Bands that had multiple hits and all have defining albums. Every band made themselves a staple of the genre when they were at their peak and everyone has a few songs you can’t help but sing along too.
The Favorite Band
This grouping all pulled in two votes a piece. set your goals, Taking Back Sunday, The Story So Far, Simple Plan, Valencia, Motion City Soundtrack, Real Friends, Knuckle Puck, Cute Is What We Aim For, and Forever The Sickest Kids. I guarantee right now you can think of one person that has said, “this is my favorite band” about the grouping. Their music and styles garnered that type of allegiance. With that they may be missed some of the potential radio hits or mainstream appeal. But every band in this section was ranked very high on people’s lists. Which to me was proof positive that at one point in time they held the mantle of favorite band.
Thirty seven different band got one vote for top band, the list is a wide spread across all of the subgenres of pop punk. A few of the hits are The Rocket Summer, Pennywise, NoFX, Jimmy Eat World, Bowling For Soup, Weezer, Like Pacific, Hit The Lights, Descendents, Simple Plan, Modern Baseball, and We The Kings. I was blown away by the number of individual bands that got one vote. As the list cames in most of them featured FOB and Blink, then from there it was pretty obvious what genre was your favorite. In fact only five lists didn’t feature both FOB and Blink. With three lists not featuring either of them. This grouping of the field is a great place to go digging for some new music. Bands like Stand Atlantic, Every Avenue, Set it Off, Movements, The Menzingers, Creeper, and Moose Blood all have some amazing music and a lot of them are still actively creating music and touring.
This list was all of the small things and more than you bargained for. I hope you enjoyed our deep dive into the genre of music that we all can’t live without. So until next time slip on a pair a vans grab a slice of pizza and join the black parade.
PS. A special thanks to Austin Moorhead, Greg Malek, and Ryan Vojtash for putting up with my insanity on this project.