In Defense of a Dying Music Genre

I never intended on falling in love with a dying music genre. I guess most people don’t, do they? Yet somehow among all the adolescent rage and small-town angst, I managed to develop a deep appreciation for the one style of music that lacks a consistent fan base. I suppose that’s what initially drew me in—the fact that it was unique and unusual and few things resonated with me the way this moody music did.

In case you haven’t already guessed, the genre I’m referring to goes by the semi-controversial title, pop punk. It’s a one-of-a-kind music style that combines all the angsty feels of rock with the tempo and sound of traditional pop. Think about what everybody jammed out to in the early 2000s. If you’re picturing Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy, give yourself a pat on the back. This is the sound that first gripped my soul, and this is the style of music I’ve been listening to ever since.

My fall for the genre was pretty inevitable. I mean, I was practically raised on the stuff, so I couldn’t really avoid it even if I tried. I was in middle school when I first became a loyal listener of Mayday Parade and The Maine, and though it’s been years since then, I’m still as big of a fan of the genre as I was from day one.

Part of the reasoning behind this is the scene’s deep and powerful ability to tell stories. A classic trademark of traditional pop punk is the theme of teenage boredom and rebellion. It’s the kind of coming-of-age tale I think we can all relate to. It’s raw, it’s real, and it’s wrapped in a catchy little chorus. Take for instance some lyrics from the song “Weightless” by All Time Low:

I wanna feel reckless, I wanna live it up, just because
I wanna feel weightless, ’cause that would be enough

If I could just find the time
Then I would never let another day go by
I’m over getting old

Can you feel the strong sense of youthfulness that radiates off this song? That’s because pop punk artists are the Peter Pans of music. These are the kids who’d gladly trade anything to avoid growing old. As an adolescent (and even now), I felt myself relating to these turbulent themes over and over again.

The Black Parade Album Artwork

While most lyrics from this genre are an edgy memoir to a rundown town, pop punk songs have also been known to tackle difficult topics such as death and depression. One of the most iconic soundtracks in the scene is a concept album from the beloved American rock band, My Chemical Romance. Recounting the sad tale of a dying cancer patient, The Black Parade takes us on a journey to ponder one’s previous life decisions all while exploring the ambiguous reality of the afterlife.

Albums like this allow the unique opportunity to tell a single story in a much greater magnitude. And since each track on a concept record works together to tell a larger tale, the album as a whole means a lot more than it would if each song stood alone. My all-time favorite band As It Is, does this with their latest record, The Great Depression. The release speaks to the issue of mental health and works to challenge the stigmas and the standards that surround the scene.

Some members of my all-time favorite band As It Is. Photo by Rock Sound Media.

This album has deep meaning to me and many other members of the fan base because as Spotify puts it, the work is both, “powerfully universal and profoundly personal”. Pain and human brokenness is, unfortunately, a part of the human experience, and not one of us make it through life unscathed. This is a topic I think we can all relate to, even if only on the most elementary of levels.

As you can see, there’s a lot more that goes into this style of music than can often be seen from the outside. And while pop punk songs may just seem like a bunch of angry teenagers voicing their painful woes, most the time the music is a metaphor for something much, much deeper. If you aren’t convinced, take it from a girl who wasn’t looking to fall in love. There’s something special about a music genre so real and so raw, it’s worth at least a listen.

Because I’m serious about introducing more people to this type of moody music, I’ve included (what I consider to be) five “gateway” songs below:

  1. How Do You Feel?” – The Maine
  2. The Black Parade” – My Chemical Romance
  3. The Stigma [Boys Don’t Cry]” – As It Is
  4. Hey Rachel” – As It Is
  5. Lucky People” – Waterparks

Now I want to hear from you! Have you ever fallen in love with a dying fandom? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

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