How pop punk shaped a generation
“Teenagers scare the living shit out of you”? Good.
This generation is defined by what they’ve done. They have started conversations about politics and climate change that have been too uncomfortable to talk about in mainstream media in the past. They have lead marches and started movements that will better our society in the future. But what can this generation attribute to their tenacious behavior to better the world? Music just might be the answer.
Punk music has a history of enticing rebels and change makers with its lyrics. Consider the iconic band Rage Against The Machine. They’re known for their politically driven lyricism and angry energy expressed in their music. The songs “Sleep Now In The Fire” and “Gorilla Radio” exemplify this well, but “Bulls On Parade” really highlights the revolutionary political views with the lyrics, “Terror rains drenchin‘ / quenchin‘ the thirst, of the power dons / that five-sided Fistagon / The rotten sore on the face of Mother Earth gets bigger.” This politically driven lyricism shifted from hard rock to pop-punk, a genre that many say defined them and understood them when no one else did.
My Chemical Romance, commonly known as MCR, defines this genre. Their album The Black Parade is one of the best known and iconic pop-punk albums of its time. Songs off this album include “Welcome to the Black Parade” which is known for its heart-wrenching G-note, and “Cancer,” covered in 2018 by Twenty One Pilots. Perhaps one of the more quintessential songs off this album, however, is “Teenagers.”
The lyrics behind “Teenagers” may not be as politically driven as Rage’s “Bulls On Parade,” but packs the same punch. Starting the track with “They’re gonna clean up your looks, with all the lies in the books, to make a citizen out of you.” Listeners can tell right off the bat that this song highlights teenage rebellion. The crunchy guitar, driving rhythm section and lyrics screaming “teenagers scare the living shit outta me” may have helped develop the rebellious nature that you see in teens and young adults today.
Other popular acts such as Paramore, All Time Low, Sleeping With Sirens, and Panic! At The Disco are still around and producing music today. While Paramore’s sound has changed from the loud “crushcrushcrsuh” era to a more disco-pop feel and Panic! has rebranded as a pop band; All Time Low and Sleeping With Sirens are still gloriously loud. This goes to show that pop-punk isn’t dead, just like how the kids that grew up on the genre, aren’t done changing the world.
While living through this time of uncertainty, keep persisting. Don’t feel pressured to comply with the current situation if one see’s it as unjust. Call out the injustices seen in the world; they’re being shown in a brighter light now more than ever. As Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance sings “we’ll carry on.”