Pop punk once dominated the airwaves, and had everyone rushing to don plaid shirts and colored Converses. But, in the 2010s, pop punk saw a steady decline in its popularity as dance-pop music took over the mainstream. Now following the rise of the e-boy subculture and the insurgence of emo rap, pop punk has, unsurprisingly, made its way back to pop culture.
Pop punk’s revival has been ushered in by both mainstream artists and alternative rock groups, both of whom have a mix of old and new artists in the genre pushing pop punk back into popularity. Mainstream artists that have heralded the new cycle of pop punk include Machine Gun Kelly, Avril Lavigne, Olivia Rodrigo, and Willow Smith. Another important big name in the revival of pop punk is Travis Barker, the former drummer of pop punk legends Blink-182. On the alternative side of things, groups such as Meet Me @ The Altar and Pinkshift have also played a role.
During the 2000s, when pop punk was in its heyday, its sound permeated into various aspects of pop culture, with theme songs like “What’s New Scooby-Doo?,” “6Teen,” and “Total Drama Island.” On the Disney side of things, “Freaky Friday” sees Lindsey Lohan’s character adopting an Avril Lavigne-esque aesthetic while being a part of a pop punk band, and Lohan’s song “Drama Queen (That Girl)” from “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” also has some pop punk elements to it.
These new artists utilize the pop punk sound for an immediate connection to their Gen Z/millenial fanbases, who had pop punk as a prominent sound of their childhoods.
Additionally, the revival, in part, owes its success to TikTok and the nostalgia-filled culture of the 2020s. TikTok’s place as the newest, baddest, frontrunning social media platform has given it reign over pop culture and current trends, so the app had a significant impact on pop punk’s rise from the grave. In recent years, various trends on TikTok have made use of songs from notable pop punk bands such as Paramore, All Time Low, and Simple Plan, and TikTok creators have started foraying into the genre themselves. For example, Jxdn released his own pop punk music in February 2020, and Lil’ Huddy did the same the following year. The 2020s have been dominated by a nihilism and angst due to the pandemic, and this perfect storm of political and cultural distress has made pop punk feel relevant again.
Pop punk’s rise from the dead is all that more exciting due to how it’s been changing the makeup of performers in the genre. Back in the day, pop punk was dominated by straight white men with mediocre vocals usually singing about girls not liking them back. In direct contrast, this revival has seen more women and people of color rising to prominence within the genre, and expanding its audiences and horizons as a result. Modern pop punk gets to benefit from more artists who are creating more lyrically compelling pop punk music with great vocals to match, and listeners get to experience a refined, updated version of what they knew and loved from their pasts.
Unfortunately, with pop punk making its comeback now and the cyclical trend of popular music, that means we may only be a few years shy of seeing scene come back. I personally don’t know if I have it in me to endure a new cycle of “Rawr XD,” but I’m glad to have pop punk back for as long as we get it.