It goes without saying that every generation thinks that music today just isn’t what it used to be. While the radio plays on with whatever’s popular this week, I still yearn for a different kind of sound. With Thanksgiving around the corner, I’m stopping to think about what I’m grateful for in the music world. These three pop punk bands helped shape the music scene and laid the groundwork for other groups to come.
Blink-182: Mark, Tom and Travis. These guys formed their trio in 1992 and introduced the world to a band that never took itself too seriously. Their blend of pop melodies and a harder, punk rock sound really helped them stand out against the crowd they were desperate to differentiate themselves from.
With the release of Enema of the State in 1999, they solidified themselves as a pop punk band to be reckoned with. Their follow-up album, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, was also wildly successful.
Straight pop music wasn’t for them—as evidenced by their shameless music video for “All the Small Things,” where they poked fun at some of the biggest names in pop. They rebelled, they experimented, and they had a very distinct sound. With lyrics that went from lighthearted—“I fell in love with the girl at the rock show / She said what and I told her that I didn’t know”—to much more serious— “I took my time, I hurried up / The choice was mine, I didn’t think enough / I’m too depressed to go on / You’ll be sorry when I’m gone,” Blink-182 was crushing the genre.
Their influence on the music scene was widespread. If you’ve heard of a band called All Time Low, you have Mark, Tom and Travis to thank. Their career has spanned a few albums (notably: So Wrong, It’s Right) with hits like “Six Feet Under the Stars” and “Dear Maria, Count Me In.” When they formed in 2003, they were a high school cover band doing their best takes on songs by Blink-182. Now, they’re still taking the stage and are working on their 6th album.
Fall Out Boy: You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t heard of Fall Out Boy. They exploded into the mainstream in 2005 with their album, From Under the Cork Tree, but had been paying their dues long before that. The group, fronted by Patrick Stump and with Pete Wentz on bass, formed in 2001. What started as a hardcore punk band morphed into the pop punk juggernaut you know and love today.
Fueled by Ramen put out their first album, Take This To Your Grave, in 2003. Near the end of 2004, they started getting more successful with this release – which helped them break into the big time. Their typical song titles have more words than some novels (such as “Our Lawyers Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued”), and they definitely perfected the art of boys wearing skinny jeans; but there’s no denying the influence they’ve had on other bands gracing stages in the here and now.
You Me at Six is one such group that found some inspiration from Fall Out Boy. Thanks to their clever lyricism, lead singer Josh Franceschi cited FOB as a big influence on his band’s earlier sound. They even got to be a supporting act on Fall Out Boy’s 2008 tour.
Green Day: So Green Day might be a bit more punk rock than pop punk, but they still deserve to be thanked for being so amazing. Imagine finding wild success on the punk scene in 1994. Green Day, with Billie Joe Armstrong on lead vocals, did just that with their first major label debut, Dookie. They had a string of albums after that before really finding mainstream popularity again with 2004’s American Idiot.
Billed as a rock opera, American Idiot made its debut at number one on the Billboard charts. Green Day wasn’t just a solid, punk rock/pop punk band – they were making political statements with their music and challenging the status quo as we knew it. With a handful of Grammy’s to their name, and a rock opera musical based on American Idiot, Green Day is one of the all-time best bands out there.
Wanting to follow in their footsteps, Good Charlotte emerged as a pop punk band in 1995. Joel Madden led the vocals and had his brother, Benji Madden, on bass. The band found major success in 2002 with their album, The Young and the Hopeless. Hit songs like “The Anthem” and “Hold On” kept them in the mainstream and catapulted their careers. In the liner notes on The Young and the Hopeless, Good Charlotte said a thank you to Green Day.
There’s a lot to be grateful for when it comes to pop punk bands and the trajectory of music that trailed some of the big names. Bless you, Billie Joe, Pete, Tom and all those that came after you.