Punk rock is not the sound of rebellion or angst. To listen to punk rock music one doesn’t have to be emo, wear dark clothing, or hate life. The stigma about punk rock is that it’s a clear sign of pessimistic attitudes that complain about the world and a clear-cut sign of teenage rebellion. Beneath all the mainstream music with meaningless lyrics, punk rock music speaks to one’s emotional side and provides the freedom to not stress about the little things in life. Packed with upbeat melodies but dark lyrics about the harsh realities of life, punk rock provides the full package that is rare to find in music today.
1985– Bowling for Soup (2004): Bowling for Soup’s biggest hit 1985 wasn’t originally their song but a cover of rock band SR-71. Looking back there is no denying that 1985 was a walking cliché filled with lines that were meant to make one feel nostalgic. However, this incredibly cheesy song is also incredibly catchy. With an upbeat sound and lyrics about living in the past, the 80’s was a memorable time for music and movies.
All the Small Things – Blink-182 (1999): Blink-182 is responsible for introducing many teens to a new genre of music that shied away from the usual top 50 jams. It was released in 1999 but quickly became a hit in the 2000’s in America. All the small things brought punk rock mainstream, earning an MTV Video Music Award for Best Group Video. The music video poked fun at notorious boybands like the Backstreet Boys and N’Sync. Wearing their iconic matching clothing and performing their over-choreographed dance moves, Blink-182 perfectly embodied stereotypical boybands.
American Idiot – Green Day (2004): With Green Day being the well-known kings of punk rock, it is rare for a band of this specific genre to stay relevant. After only receiving two big hits from album Warning, Green Day came back with a punch with American Idiot. American Idiot is a memorable standalone song of the album with lyrics that ooze angst and rebellion. It was an ambitious risk to take during the George W. Bush Era. Armstrong’s frustration of this “subliminal mind-fuck America” is delivered with instrumental rage.
Lifestyles of the Rich Famous – Good Charlotte (2002): Exposing the harsh realities of life is continuously celebrated in punk rock music and Good Charlotte is no exception. The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous strip down the ideologies of Hollywood’s materialistic ways of thinking. The idea that money is toxic is emphasized through the repetitive chorus. Behind Good Charlotte’s the Anthem, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous is the most overplayed song up to date. Good Charlotte demonstrates that musical stardom comes with fame, money, and apparently, a lot of ego checks in Hollywood.
The Middle – Jimmy Eat World (2001): Jimmy Eat World became a real contender in music with the breakout hit The Middle. First releasing the album Bleed America less than two months before 9/11, the title didn’t settle well with the public. However, everything changed with The Middle, doors were opened and the epic guitar solo was the cherry on top. Climbing its way to number one on the Modern Rock Charts in 2001, this coming of age song embraces one’s uniqueness and individuality. Now 15 years later, The Middle is the most successful hit produced by Jimmy Eat World.
Cute without the ‘E’ – Taking Back Sunday (2002): Cute without the ‘E’ doesn’t portray heavy-duty punk rock vibes at first listen due to elements of pop in it. However, Adam Lazzara delivers an intense sound of aggression and jealousy that is most popularly found in punk rock music. Heartbreak is a topic that’s been done before, but this heartbreak is more about jealousy than hostility or resentment. Suicide over a heartbreak is the central theme and the tool of exaggeration is emphasized to pack an emotional punch towards teens.
Still Waiting – Sum 41 (2002): It’s no secret that hatred and tragedy exist in this world. Still Waiting exquisitely illustrates the harsh realities of war not only after 9/11, but the continuous wars we have every day. The aggressive energy, the catchy, and dark chorus provides a passionate tone that can be played over and over. Still Waiting pushed the boundaries of punk rock music from their humorous rebellion faze. This more serious tone can be appreciated in the long run and adds a unique flair.
I’m Not Okay (I promise) – My Chemical Romance: MCR’s I’m Not Okay is the epitome of punk rock music and a perfect depiction of a teenager’s emotions. Anger and a lust for revenge, this is the anthem for misfits and worthy of an air guitar when listened to. In the music video, Gerard Way’s portrayal of the dark, angry, loner fits the song’s esthetic of bitter love and heartbreak. Earning the number four spot on the U.S Billboard Modern Tracks, it made a declaration for teens everywhere that not everything in life is “okay.”
At Your Funeral – Saves the Day (2001): An equally dark but extremely catchy song about death that is perfect for a rainy day. The grim sound that is originally found in punk rock is achieved through Chris Conley’s exquisite vocal performance. This “anthem of your underground” illustrates the narrator’s battle dealing with his friend’s drug addiction. The message of the song is bleak but provides an insight into death and drugs which fits this infamous genre of music.
Believe – Yellowcard (2003): Electric violins mixed with punk rock adds a unique yet tasteful flavor to Yellowcard’s sound. The violin solo, in the beginning, blends well with the heavy guitar and vocals in this ode to firefighters during 9/11. This powerful message is conveyed through dark lyrics about death and tragedy. It is written from the perspective of a victim in the Twin Towers waiting for a fireman. This proclaims the idea that not all heroes wear capes. The transition from Irish folk into punk rock was a risky task to achieve, but Yellowcard’s pulls off a hit song in their most well-known album.