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The Pop-Punk Identity Crisis

Johanna Zenn

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Pop-punk may not be dead, but its big players seem to be going through an identity crisis. Searching “pop-punk bands‰” into Google first gives you a list of these bigger names like Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, Paramore, All Time Low, and others. Bands like these are formative to anyone who listens to this music, and whether you like it or not, their earlier songs in particular have become notable and in many ways iconic within the genre. All of them seem to be going through a transitional phase from pop-punk to more straight-up pop, which muddies the waters between what is “pop-punk‰” today and what isn‰’t. It‰’s quite clear to see that Panic! At The Disco‰’s last album Death of a Bachelor is vastly different from an album like Modern Baseball‰’s You‰’re Gonna Miss It All. The former presents a jazzy, pop vibe while the latter clearly pulls influence from sounds found in the late 90‰’s and early 2000s. This dichotomy presents a conundrum, since many still view Panic! as a “pop-punk‰” entity. Another facet of this is the end of Warped Tour, which perhaps encompasses the divide between what and who pop-punk once was to what and who it is now. The end of the music festival that once housed these bands seems to signify a shift, suggesting that the genre is allowing for younger artists to develop this kind of music away from the shadow of their predecessors.

It‰’s incredibly interesting to me how people my age, including myself, have latched on to early Fall Out Boy, Panic!, or Paramore way after their time. Coming of age in the 2010s, it often seemed as if we were trying to construct nostalgia for this music that was sometimes not our own. I remember hearing Paramore‰’s song “That‰’s What You Get‰” in passing when I was in elementary school, but did not become connected to it until I was much older. It seemed as if we started riding this wave after it may have already crashed. This became even more apparent when Fall Out Boy returned from their hiatus and released Save Rock and Roll, completely divorcing themselves from their earlier sound. Since then, their sound has remained this way, most recently in their album Mania, which has more electropop vibes to it.

This isn‰’t to say that this is completely negative. In my opinion, listening to Paramore‰’s music from their first album Riot! to their latest work After Laughter shows a beautiful example of growing up. Hayley Williams‰’ teen angst grows into a true depiction of coming into adulthood, and the unique hardship that goes with it. While it‰’s difficult to say where the big names in the genre fit as their music grows and changes, it presents an interesting perspective on how the those who came of age immediately after pop-punk‰’s biggest years have reinforced this gray area.

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The Pop-Punk Identity Crisis