Is Pop-Punk Getting Stale? Part 2

So after the first part of this piece, which was a rather critical look into the world of pop-punk, I think a more positive point of view is necessary. So here is a list of pop-punk bands who are really pushing boundaries and doing things right at the moment.

Neck Deep

Neck Deep are one of the most popular bands on this list, and for good reason. Their brand of pop-punk is catchy, energetic, and while it does adhere to a lot of pop-punk conventions, it is far from generic.

Listen to: In Bloom, December, Nineteen Seventy Sumthin’, Where Do We Go When We Go

As It Is

As It Is sound very different from any other pop-punk band, mainly due to their choice of using a lot of clean guitar sounds as well as the distortion. The vocals have an interesting dynamic too, thanks to having one English and one American singer. Not only this, but their new album (okay.) contains songs from all over the pop-punk spectrum, from the very poppy to the dark and sinister.

Listen to: Pretty Little Distance, Soap, No Way Out

State Champs

Similarly to Neck Deep, State Champs do stick to a lot of pop-punk conventions, but that’s fine when your music is so catchy! Honestly, this band has a knack for writing choruses like no other band on this list.

Listen to: Around The World And Back, Losing Myself, All You Are Is History

Blink-182

Despite being veterans of the scene, Blink-182 are still pushing and developing their sound to this day. Things had began to become stagnant with Tom DeLonge causing problems in the band, but now he’s been replaced by Matt Skiba of the Alkaline Trio, the band are back and better than ever. Their latest album, California includes some of their best work to this date, and the deluxe edition includes some incredible experimental cuts. They might just be the best pop-punk band of all time.

Listen to: 6/8, Misery, What’s My Age Again, Bottom Of The Ocean

Seaway

Seaway just take pop-punk, instil it with as much life and energy as possible, and then put it out into the world. Their latest album, Vacation, is a blast of summery energy, and is one of the most fun pop-punk records I’ve ever heard.

Listen to: Lula On The Beach, Something Wonderful, 40 Over

New Found Glory

Despite their age as a band, New Found Glory are still making fresh, relevant pop-punk. There’s not much else to say other than it’s well produced, catchy, and doesn’t sound like any other band out there.

Listen to: Happy Being Miserable, Party On Apocalypse, My Friends Over You

Against The Current

I’m not sure whether I’d call these a pop-punk band any more, but I’m going to put them in this list anyway just because they make great music. They blend smooth pop melodies with pop-punk style and it works perfectly.

Listen to: In Our Bones, Forget Me Now, Fireproof, Paralyzed

Waterparks

The rest of this list wasn’t in any particular order, but I’ve definitely saved the best until last. Waterparks make catchy, entertaining and unique pop-punk better than anyone in the rock world. Every song is different and unique in a way bringing different ideas to the genre, and they are exactly what pop-punk needs at the moment.

Listen to: All of Double Dare; it’s too good to miss anything from it.

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My Top 100 Songs: 20-11

20. Walking Disaster – Sum 41

This is one of the only songs I have genuinely got emotional watching live, and honestly, I don’t know why. There’s just something in this song that touches me, and I love it.

Find it on: Underclass Hero (2007)

19. When You Were Young – The Killers

I have loved this song ever since I first heard it, and will probably continue to love it for the rest of my life.It’s catchy, emotional, and by far some of Brandon Flowers’ best work.

Find it on: Sam’s Town (2006)

18. Starlight – Muse

The first Muse song I loved, this is an absolute anthem for the band. From the beautiful piano intro to the ‘Black Holes And Revelations’ refrain, this song just makes me happy.

Find it on: Black Holes And Revelations (2006)

17. Sic Transit Gloria (Glory Fades) – Brand New

This is one of the most unnerving, creepy songs I’ve ever heard. I love it because it takes a theme a lot of music talks about, taking a girl back to your house, and turns it on it’s head. It’s creepy, unsettling, and utterly brilliant.

Find it on: Deja Entendu (2003)

16. Pack Of Thieves – Enter Shikari

This is one of Enter Shikari’s more melodic songs and I love it. The chorus is intense, but full of melody, and it’s a testament to just how good this band is.

Find it on: A Flash Flood Of Colour (2012)

15. Semi-Charmed Life – Third Eye Blind

I’ve picked this song for no other reason than it just makes me happy. The melody and guitar blend together to make this the perfect singalong song.

Find it on: Third Eye Blind (1997)

14. Spanish Sahara – Foals

I first found this when I was playing the video game Life Is Strange. The song played through a tragic ending scene and this song was perfect for it, slowly building up into a beautiful crescendo. I listen to this when I’m sad and at least for the duration of the song, I feel a little better.

Find it on: Total Life Forever (2010)

13. When I Come Around – Green Day

This song has a special place in my heart because I performed it with my girlfriend at an open mic night, but I also thing it’s an incredible song. There’s something about the melody that just gets into your head, and stays there.

Find it on: Dookie (1994)

12. Getting Along – Royal Republic

Simply put, this is the most catchy song I have ever heard. The chorus is incredible, and it shows just how good Royal Republic are at writing great songs.

Find it on: Weekend Man (2016)

11. No Way Out – As It Is

As well as being incredibly catchy, the monologue in the middle of this song is incredibly emotional. Singer Patty Walters pours his heart out on this one, and it makes it one of the most raw, honest songs I’ve ever heard.

Find it on: okay. (2017)

Is Pop-Punk Getting Stale? Part 1

Pop-punk. Once the most exciting word in the rock world, this genre fuses punk attitudes and guitars with pop melodies to create incredibly catchy rock songs. After around 2007 it began to rapidly decline, in both quality and the number of bands in the scene. It hit a really low point around then, but it has been making a resurgence of late, with bands like Neck Deep, State Champs and Knuckle Puck rising to prominence. But I personally think that there are two sides of this resurgence. With every great band it has brought, 100 copycats have followed, imitating the music in everything but quality. So that begs the question, is the pop-punk world growing stale? There are two sides to this argument, and I will dissect both sides of them in this post.

The first is the negative point of view, that the scene is growing stale, one that I personally agree with. As a rock music critic, I review a lot of pop-punk albums. Even three months ago, the thought of a brand new pop-punk album to review would fill me with joy, but now it fills me with dread. The problem? Most of the pop-punk albums I review are terrible. Like, truly awful. When I first reviewed them, I’d always put a positive spin on it, saying something like ‘just add a bit more variety and you’ll be fine’. The problem is, nothing changes with a large number of pop-punk bands. No matter how many albums I listen to, I hear the same drum beat, the same guitar lead, and the same whiny, often misogynistic vocals. There are definitely a lot of bands in the pop-punk world doing great things, but a lot of other bands are piggybacking off their success, making boring, emotionless, and passionless music. And because there are so many bands doing this, the pop-punk world is going stale. Even though a lot of bands are doing great things, they are being suffocated by the lack of creativity of so many others.

On the other hand, there are a lot of good things going on in the pop-punk world. For example, bands like Waterparks, As It Is and Neck Deep are making creative, exciting music. Even scene veterans like Blink-182 and All Time Low are bringing new ideas to the table, although the latter had mixed results in their new album. And by all means, these are the bands at the forefront of the industry, the ones making the music that people hear. People are more likely to hear their music, as that is the music that is pushing boundaries, creating something creative, and gaining more fans in the process. So the scene is polluted with dull, uninspiring music, but that’s not what’s getting any publicity and airtime.

I can still conclude from this that pop-punk is still getting stale though. The problem is that compared to the bad bands, the good bands are so few and far between, that not enough of a proportion of them exist to make pop-punk a popular genre. If someone thinks ‘I’ll listen to some pop-punk today, chances are that music won’t be all that great, and that needs to change for pop-punk to be a more respected genre.

My Top 100 Songs: 30-21

30. Royal – Waterparks

This is my favourite song off one of my new favourite albums, and from the moment I heard it I knew I’d love it. Waterparks are probably the best new band in pop-punk at the moment, and this just proves that.

Find it on: Double Dare (2016)

29. Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine – The Killers

I’ve recently talked about this song on the blog, so I’ll keep it short. This song is a pure masterpiece, and the fact that Brandon Flowers wrote it at so young an age is just a testament to what an incredible songwriter he is.

Find it on: Hot Fuss (2004)

28. Kitchen Sink – Twenty One Pilots

Just a bonus track on Vessel, I didn’t hear this song for a while. But when I did, it really hit me hard. In it, Tyler talks about trying to create things and leave a legacy behind. If you’re a creative or artistic person, this’ll hit you hard.

Find it on: Vessel (2013)/Regional At Best (2011)

27. Kids In The Dark – All Time Low

Future Hearts wasn’t everyone’s favourite stage of All Time Low’s career, but I think it was one of their best ever albums, and this is one of their best ever songs. Not only is it incredibly catchy, but it also has a bit of a message, which is rare for All Time Low.

Find it on: Future Hearts (2015)

26. Soap – As It Is

As It Is’ second album marked them branching out from their regular pop-punk and experimenting a little with some new sounds. This is almost (but not quite) the best thing that came out of that, a dark, Brand New-esque track that I absolutely love.

Find it on: okay. (2017)

25. Sorry You’re Not A Winner – Enter Shikari

Enter Shikari are one of the bands I’ve got into more recently, and this song stands out as by far one of their best. From the incredible riff, to the electronic elements, to Rou Reynolds’ versatile vocals, this song is a modern masterpiece.

Find it on: Take To The Skies (2007)

24. Goodbye Angels – Red Hot Chili Peppers

I feel like the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ latest album is massively underappreciated. They tried something new, and while it didn’t always come off, it worked well a lot of the time, including creating this masterpiece of a song.

Find it on: The Getaway (2016)

23. Just Like Heaven – The Cure

This is an absolute classic. I don’t really know what to say other than everything about this song is near perfect; the vocals, the rhythm, the bass, the guitar, and all the other little things tying them together.

Find it on: Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987)

22. Monkey Wrench – Foo Fighters

I remember first hearing this song on a Guitar Hero game when I was 12 and being blown away by Dave Grohl’s vocals. Now, at 20 years old, I feel exactly the same when listening to it

Find it on: The Colour And The Shape (1997)

21. Make It Stop (September’s Children)

Rise Against have written a lot of meaningful, powerful songs, but this must be the most powerful of all of them. Written after a long string of teenage suicides caused by homophobic bullying, this song was written as a message to everyone out there that things will get better. This is truly Rise Against at their best.

Find it on: Endgame (2011)

My Top 10 The Killers Songs

Ever since I first heard the opening to ‘Mr. Brightside’, I knew I loved The Killers. And why wouldn’t I? Ever since their first album, they’ve been producing top quality music, and with the singles I’ve heard from their new album, they look to continue this. Wonderful Wonderful is out this month, and in celebration of that, I’ll be counting down my favourite songs by them.

Honourable mentions (Warning, there are a lot!):

  • Mr Brightside
  • Somebody Told Me
  • All These Things That I’ve Done
  • Change Your Mind
  • Glamorous Indie Rock And Roll
  • When You Were Young
  • Bones
  • Show You How
  • Romeo And Juliet (Dire Straits Cover)
  • Joy Ride
  • This Is Your Life
  • I Can’t Stay
  • Neon Tiger
  • The World We Live In
  • The Man

10. Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf

There’s something about this song that I just love. The old-fashioned sound quality, and the bluesy guitar rhythm go together to make this one of the most oddly charming Killers songs.

Find it on: Sawdust (2007)

9. For Reasons Unknown

From a relatively unassuming verse, the song bursts into life with Brandon Flowers belting out by far one of the best choruses he’s ever written. An essential listen if you want to get into the band.

Find it on: Sam’s Town (2006)

8. Smile Like You Mean It

One of the highlights of their first album, this is one of the very songs that got me into The Killers. Just try listening to this without it getting into your hair.

Find it on: Hot Fuss (2004)

7. Sam’s Town

This song is a perfect introduction of one of my favourite albums of all time. But not only that, Brandon Flowers shows some of his best writing skills off in this song. What more can you ask than great music with great lyrics?

Find it on: Sam’s Town (2006)

6. This River Is Wild

I can’t believe this song isn’t more well known, because in my opinion it’s one of The Killers’ best. It sounds huge and epic, but with vulnerable lyrics, and I absolutely love that contrast.

Find it on: Sam’s Town (2006)

5. Under The Gun

Short but sweet, this is one of the most catchy songs I’ve heard in my life. Probably one of the most underappreciated Killers songs too, only being a bonus track on Hot Fuss.

Find it on: Sawdust (2007)

4. Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine

Believe me when I say this, this song is a masterpiece. Not only does it sound great, it tells a captivating story, something The Killers do expertly. It is the last part of a trilogy  of songs also containing ‘Midnight Run’ and ‘Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf’.

Find it on: Hot Fuss (2004)

3. Losing Touch

This song probably has no right to be where it is on this list, but I love it so much. There is a certain infectiousness to the chorus that won’t let it leave your head.

Find it on: Day & Age (2008)

2. Read My Mind

Simply put, I think this is one of the best songs ever written. From the synth intro, to the lyrics, to that amazing chorus, it’s just perfect from back to front.

Find it on: Sam’s Town (2006)

1. Tranquilize

Well where do I go from one of the best songs ever written? This is the only song I could have possibly picked for the top spot. The Killers have never written anything like this, and I don’t think they ever will again. It’s dark, unsettling, and utterly brilliant.

Find it on: Sawdust (2007)

My Top 100 Songs: 40 – 31

40. That Green Gentleman – Panic! At The Disco

Oddly enough, my favourite song by Panic! At The Disco is from my least favourite album by them. Don’t count Pretty. Odd. out completely though – there are some gems on there, and this is one of them.

Find it on: Pretty. Odd. (2008)

39. Kiwi – Harry Styles

If you’ve never heard Harry Styles’ music, don’t write this off as yet another boyband member’s solo project, because this is so much more than that. The whole album is an incredible listen, but this really stands out.

Find it on: Harry Styles (2017)

38. Tear – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Until I recently listened to By The Way on vinyl, I never really appreciated this songs, but after hearing all of it, I feel like it’s a true masterpiece. From the guitar solo, to the trumpet solo, to that incredible chorus, this song just couldn’t get any better.

Find it on: By The Way (2017)

37. Fall Away – Twenty One Pilots

This is the highlight of Twenty One Pilots’ first album, containing some of Tyler Joseph’s best early lyrics, and some of his best rapping too.

Find it on: Twenty One Pilots (2009)

36. Backseat Serenade – All Time Low

All Time Low specialise in writing catchy pop-punk, but this song goes above and beyond all of that. Not only is it incredibly catchy, it features some of the best composition on one of their songs, with a really cool chord progression in the verse.

Find it on: Don’t Panic (2012)

35. Injection – Rise Against

One of the best songs on my favourite albums, this song was my favourite by Rise Against for so long, and has only just been overtaken. Still an incredible song though.

Find it on: The Sufferer and the Witness (2006)

34. Trees – Twenty One Pilots

I never really appreciated this song until I heard it live, but when I did, it was one of the best experiences of my life. The emotion and sheer energy of this song make it one of the most special Twenty One Pilots songs ever written.

Find it on: Vessel (2013)

33. Everlong – Foo Fighters

Another song I never appreciated at first, I hated this song when I first heard it, but over time, it slowly grew on me. Dave Grohl’s voice is at its most powerful and emotional here.

Find it on: The Colour and the Shape (1997)

32. Planetary (GO!) – My Chemical Romance

From a song I never liked at first, to one I loved, this is one of the best songs on one of my favourite albums of all time. A lot of people may not like this, because it shows My Chemical Romance leaving their emo roots behind, but I feel like it was the best evolution for the band.

Find it on: Danger Days (2010)

31. Holiday – Green Day

Another song I loved immediately, this is my highlight of American Idiot. How could I not love a song that is both catchy and political?

Find it on: American Idiot (2004)

My Opinion On The Taylor Swift/Ticketmaster Controversy

A while ago, I was scrolling through YouTube, when I saw this commercial:

Now, originally, I didn’t really think anything of it – after all, why should I care? It’s obviously not marketed at me, and I’d never particularly been fond of Taylor Swift’s music. But something just didn’t sit right with me about it. When I went back to find out what that was, I realised something awful. While this scheme is marketed as a way to stop bots buying tickets and to give her fans more of a chance to see her show, it is really something more sinister. Here’s why:

The video details the fact that now, you can log into Taylor Swift’s website to join a queue to get tickets for whichever show is closest to you. Sounds great right? It’s a way to stop bots buying tickets because there is already a priority list. But here’s the catch. You can move up or down the list based on the times you watch Swift’s new music video, buy her album or buy her merch. Yes, that’s right, you have to buy more things to even get a chance of seeing her live!

Now, trying to stop bots from buying tickets is an admirable goal, but with a tiny bit of research, it is clear to see that this is not Swift’s goal. If not, why not implement a static priority list, on a first-come, first-served basis? Instead, fans have to fork out more of their own, hard-earned money to even get a chance of seeing her. And I’m not just talking about buying an album once or twice, or watching her music videos for a bit. No, reports suggest you can buy the album up to thirteen times A DAY! So in reality, this plan of ‘beating the bots’ could end up making the fans who want to see her paying even more than they would if bots had bought all of the tickets! Not only will they have to pay around a hundred pounds to buy the tickets themselves, they will have to pay hundreds of pounds just to get a chance of getting them.

And this horrific moneymaking scheme isn’t the only problem. What could be even worse is that this sets a sickening precedent for the future of live music. If this scheme is successful, then more artist will start using this scheme to make money for themselves. I can honestly say that seeing a band I love live is one of the biggest joys of my life, and for this to be taken away from me by their greedy ambition would be devastating for me. Unfortunately though, this is Taylor Swift we’re talking about, which means the scheme will probably work due to the media’s complete inability to hold her accountable for anything. And more bands doing this means less chance for fans to actually go and see them, and the fans that actually manage to do this will be too cash-strapped to go and see any other bands. The thing is, people not being able to see the artists they love will result in the steady decline of the music industry,  all started by one woman’s greed.

So I urge anyone reading this to speak up, speak out, and spread the word that this is unacceptable. Some bands, like Enter Shikari, have already started calling Swift out for this, but more bands need to start speaking up, because this is just plain wrong. If we can get a discussion started around this, maybe we can stop this happening, and save future generations from having to bankrupt themselves just to see a band they like, but we need to do it quickly before any other artists pick up on the idea. This is shameless, disgusting, and unnecessary profiteering of music fans, and it needs to stop now!