I get the feeling I’m suddenly going to hit a certain age and outgrow pop punk music. Why would I think this? Well, if the comments on the internet are anything to go by since Paramore and Fall Out Boy released their latest singles, then that’s exactly what happens – it’s a natural progression.
“They’ve just grown up, guys. You can’t expect them to make music like this forever,” are the comments posted all over YouTube and Facebook, defending the latest offerings by the two titans of the pop punk scene. As a legion of their fans flock to the band’s side, I get the feeling that’s how people expect things to go. If all the Buzzfeed articles with titles like “19 Embarrassing Things You Did in 2010 if You Went Through an Emo Phase!” are anything to go by, we should all be over it by now. Guys, I guarantee you I still do about 17 of those things – I did not outgrow my emo phase. Okay, maybe I stopped drawing a heart on my hand and posting a selfie with it on MySpace, but the rest of it is still there, Hayley Williams’ style red hair and all.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like the new Paramore song (maybe it’s best we don’t talk about the new Fall Out Boy song though). I like rock and pop punk music, but I also like lots of other kinds of music too. Paramore’s Hard Times does not sit in the same musical taste box as Riot! and All We Know Is Falling does, but it still does in another box, which is just as liked in my brain. It’s different, but not bad, and that’s fine with me. What I don’t like is the implication that pop-punk is something we all outgrow eventually. The bands do it, and the fans do it too, and that’s just the way it goes apparently.
Pop punk is the sort of music you stereotypically get into when you’re a teenager, so it’s probably seen as the sort of stuff you should leave behind as you enter adulthood. I sit here, older than the members of Paramore who are now seen as too mature to produce music of their Riot! days (though I should say this is something that has been decided by other people, not by the band themselves), and I’m not sure how to feel.
Okay, I will admit singing along with songs like Simple Plan’s I’m Just a Kid does make me feel a bit old, (I mean, can I really get away with screaming “I’m just a kid and life is a nightmare,” as I near my 30th birthday and I have an actual kid myself?) but does that mean I’m supposed to turn my back on the whole genre entirely?
Pop punk music is something I discovered in high school, mainly when we finally purchased Sky, I discovered Kerrang!, and my whole musical world was blown open. There weren’t a lot of kids in high school who liked the same music, and we all hung out together, singing Linkin Park lyrics and practicing the dance from Sum 41’s Fat Lip video at lunchtime. While hanging out at a pop punk and emo night at a local club when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I met about 90% of the people I am friends with now, as well as my husband. Music bonds people in a tight group, forming friendships over shared interests, and therefore becomes a huge part of your life. If I’m being honest, I can’t imagine ever outgrowing that.
I recently attended one of Yellowcard’s last ever gigs at their farewell tour at the end of 2016, and I cried when they burst out Ocean Avenue for the last time. It brought back memories of every time I’ve screamed those lyrics, and every time I’ve ended up passionately singing, “You were begging me not tonight, not here, not now,” on my knees in the middle of the dancefloor. Music, and especially this sort of rock music, has shaped the person I am today. I may have toned down my emo dress code of a tie and tiny kilt over my jeans since then, but the traces are still there.
I’m not against bands changing their sounds, exploring what they want to produce and offer their fans, or going for a more “mainstream” sound if that’s what floats their boat, but does that mean that all the fans need to follow along? Are the band always the ones in the right, and the fans who are left, clinging the old sound, are the ones automatically seen as in the wrong?
Bands like Blink 182 and New Found Glory give me hope, as they proudly prove pop punk isn’t dead, and of course there are always amazing new bands breaking on to the scene. But it does make me a bit sad when I listen to Take This To Your Grave by Fall Out Boy, and know that they’ve left that sound behind and I still haven’t.
A lot of the bands I grew up with have kept growing without me. I’m still stuck here throwing my hands up to Good Charlotte’s Anthem and screaming ‘Team Up! Team Up!’, and to be honest, I’m fine with that.