Problems With: Modern Pop Punk (British Invasion)

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Pop punk has been a genre or rather a sub genre of music that I’ve always had a very complicated relationship with. When the scene emerged with the likes of Blink 182 and Sum 41, I detested each and every single released with this label. The reason why? Well mostly because as a musician myself I felt it involved an immensely lazy approach to the art form. The chord progressions where repetitive and unimaginative, the lyrics corny and cliche, the drum beats droning and predictable, but most importantly I felt the music had no soul. Each song sounded as if it were made cheap with no thought for a quick buck; lets say it wasn’t my thing.

However during my late teens I revisited some of those tracks to see whether my mind had changed. That’s when my perspective changed dramatically… I had a complete nostalgia overload, knowing every lyric, humming every melody and had that realization of why this music is made. The chords are simple due to ability but proving that anyone can play a guitar and have fun, the bass lines were simplistic but full of live encouraging a high heart rate, the drums were high tempo because they are meant to turn a smile on your face with intensity… But the lyrics, the lyrics really got me further. The lyrics are centered around frustration, annoyance, a lack of love but also having fun with what you love and watching those do the same; again simplistic but relatable. No one showcase this better than Blink. They could balance emotions of frustrations at society and growing up somewhat ignored, with feelings of jubilation and elation at when things go right as well as at the little things that improve life.The music did have soul, you just had to be the right age to feel it. You had to of been of age that you have experienced said concepts, but not too old to lose correlation with the modern aspects expressed.

The music was also catchy, with lyrical and instrumentally decorative hooks that are now timeless in music. Particular tracks from Green Day like Basket Case for example are instantly recogniseable and are classed as classics in the american music scene. In fact these songs aren’t just big stateside, they are global goliaths of music intercontinentally with fan-bases spaninng as far as the eye can see. But wait… This is problems with pop punk? OH MODERN POP PUNK.

Right here is my issue then. Pop punk is in its teens (funny that) as a genre; it is still a new ‘thing’. From its birth in the late 90s, it soon died in the mid 2000s with the disbanding of Bowling For Soup, Blink 182, Sum 41 and other staples. The music then produced in this era by very temporary acts never really hit any commercial highs or even touched upon the sales of prior named bands. Seemingly pop punk came like a flare, shined incredible bright for a short space of time, fading quickly but doing its job. However, in 2010/11 there were projects emerging with the label of pop punk proudly next to their name which before would of been seen as career suicide. I’m talking Neck Deep, WSTR, Trash Boat, Boston Manor, Creeper and ROAM. One thing all these acts have in common? They are ALL BRITISH. What was originally seen as an american dominated genre was now being run riot by our Great British daddy-issued teens. That still isn’t my problem though before you get mad, my problem is that idea of soul again…

The drums this time round were even more repetitive keeping to a straight 4/4 almost metallic beat at a static 160bpm tempo. The bass lines were unimaginative relying on drop tuning and different three note progressions strummed rapidly (there were no innovative phrases like the Green Day tunes of old). The guitar consisted of a rhythm in drop tuning playing one of three power chord notes and a lead playing the same lead melody over and over in each song making each album feel non-developmental. But it’s the singing, the singing is what got me. Before you could recognize a Deryck Whibley from a Tom Delonge, but now all these British acts refuse to embrace their accent, droning barely in key in this distinctly ‘put on accent’. The likes of which really unravels when you witness such a thing live, I’m looking at you Ben Barlow from Neck Deep who delivered the worst vocal performance of any singer I’ve ever seen live. It is obvious to me that this false accenting is just a distraction from the lack of vocal talent and artistry which only further explains the repetitive hooks. If you could distinguish between the hooks in ROAM’s ‘Head Rush’ and their track ‘Warning Sign’ then you’re either pulling at straws or have frequency problems. It all contributes to a mess of a sound that is usually out of tune, sloppy and out of time live; this time I’m pointing towards you Creeper. Not just this but the heart behind all this is wrong too. Every band seems to have a clothing label which they shove down your neck with unoriginal skater gear, every band has a tour diary consisting of what it’s like to be a British kid in America, every band has this female heavy fan base that screams as they take the stage and sings along to every soft acoustic ballad played; what is punk about that?

This brings me on to the final and most important point, modern pop punk isn’t even punk. There is nothing punk about singing an acoustic ballad about being in love in a fake american accent to a crowd full of crying edgy teens; false identity and false titling. It is a huge shame that I spent some brief moments basking in the pop punk spirit somewhat late, embracing the culture and beginning to understand why its popularity was so important. But in what should of been a beautiful British invasion and the revival of a much respected genre, ended up being a shambles from the UK in attempt to match much superior acts stateside.

We encourage your feedback and debate in the comments down below!

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