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Music has always had the ability to represent emotions that people have, thoughts they have, experiences they have; the list can go on. Certain kinds of music represent different emotions, thoughts and experiences. Pop-Punk is one of these genres which has always had an image around it, a guideline for what the content should be and what it should represent and what emotions, thoughts, and experiences the listener has or goes through, and while this formula has produced many enjoyable albums and projects, it has always fallen short of the records which draw from other influences and themes not seen in the standard Pop-Punk formula.
Here, in no particular order, I will be listing and talking about some of the best records that this varied and very influential genre has produced from its creation to now.
Blink-182 - Enema Of The State
It had to be this didn't it? While myself and many others prefer Blink-182's self titled record, I've never personally classed it as a 'Pop-Punk' record, but there is no arguing about what genre their breakout album Enema Of The State is.
Released just at the end of the nineties, Enema was new ground for Blink, with slick production and commercial success. Songs such as "All the Small Things" and "What's My Age Again?" are still played at emo club nights today but its the rest of the album that really gives it its weight and substance. From the opening, riff lead, "Dumpweed" to the ender "Anthem," the album tackles a lot of topics not seen in mainstream Pop-Punk before, such as death, emotionally abusive relationships and... Aliens?
This album really turned Blink-182 into a serious band instead of just three guys joking about, and hundreds of other bands have been created due to this very album. The addition of Travis Barker to the trio really cements the instrumentation on this album as some of the best seen in rock music for years and the aware and thought provoking lyrics and performance really turn this album into something very special, something that paints a portrait of how teenage life used to be and the ups and downs that come with life as a whole.
Fall Out Boy - Take This To Your Grave
I think very few rock bands can boast about the amount of styles and genres they've tried in their music when compared to Fall Out Boy. Despite what pop, funk, or "whatever sort of music they're creating today" project they're working on at the moment, this will always be the beginning (They don't count Evening Out With Your Girlfriend so neither will I.)
Fall Out Boy started out in Chicago, playing shows with hardcore bands when they were FAR from a hardcore band themselves, and after a while they released Take This To Your Grave on the world. The band had slept on floors for the majority of the recording process and they ran out of money halfway through, leading the album to be recorded very swiftly, but that adds to the essence of this album in a way. The record itself is a collection of fast paced, upbeat pop-punk songs that mainly focuses on personal relationships. Bassist and now lead songwriter Pete Wentz said once that he wanted to make an album where "you didn't want to skip a track," and thats exactly what Fall Out Boy pulled out of the bag with this one.
With it being rather similar in terms of the style of songs, it seems to mould itself into a forty minute masterpiece where every track is essential to the impact of the record and where every track seems to take off where the other left off. Besides fan favourite tracks like "Grand Theft Autumn," "Saturday" and "Dead On Arrival," songs like "Grenade Jumper" and "Reinventing The Wheel To Run Myself Over" is really where the heart of this record lies, with the former being about undying friendship and the latter being about self doubt, there's something to cover every feeling under the sun in this absolute classic.
Neck Deep - Life's Not Out To Get You
Neck Deep are the new kids of pop-punk when we compare them to such legends as Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy, but boy... have they made an impact. The Welsh 5-piece released Life's Not Out To Get You a little after their debut album and it catapulted them to the top of the modern pop-punk scene and for right reason. The album captures something that everyone can relate to; views on the world around us, relationship problems, hometown pride and more.
The main appeal of this record is really in its spirt. These guys made this album and wrote these songs in a genre that has been around for years, they weren't breaking new ground but they were determined to make a record that could compete with the legends in this scene and thats what happened. With songs so catchy theres no way this album could have been a let down.
"Can't Kick Up The Roots" and "Gold Steps" being the lead singles, and such classics as "This Beach Is For Lovers (Not Lonely Losers)" and "I Hope This Comes Back To Haunt You" being part of the rest, just the songs on this album turn it into a classic pop-punk record. We may have to wait a few years to see the impact this record makes in the long run, but for now, it's doing a pretty good job.
The Wonder Years - Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing
The Philadelphia band's second album is perhaps their greatest accomplishment. Perhaps. They do have an incredible discography that I would recommend to anyone, but Suburbia... is possibly the best they have to give the world. The brutal honestly shown through these songs is enough to give it high status but along with the melodies given by this album, thats really what makes it shine.
Dan Campbell is no doubt an incredible songwriter, being able to talk about subjects in a way that puts the lister in his position; songs such as "You Made Me Want To Be A Saint" perfectly show this, but then songs like "Came Out Swinging, Don't Let Me Cave In" and "Woke Up Older" provide choruses that will stick in your head for days.
The real appeal of this album is that its an honest representation of this band and what they think, go through and have gone through and there something strangely intimate about the experience of putting yourself into their shoes and, if you listen well enough, seeing through their eyes for an hour or two.
Green Day - Dookie
Dookie by Green Day. Dookie by Green Day. Dookie... by Green Day. I honestly debated putting this record onto this list due to the fact I doubt anyone reading this wouldn't have heard it or at least heard OF it. But just the sheer greatness and impact of this album persuaded me otherwise. Now me, and many others don't class Green Day as pop-punk but this album truly gave birth to the genre and many of the bands in it today so I think that it more than deserves a place on this list.
Dookie changed everything, bringing rock and punk into the mainstream big time, and letting smaller bands have the spotlight for a change and it truly made Green Day one of the biggest bands in the world, proving that music was for anyone and that even the laziest, dopiest guys could make something so wonderful that it could capture the hearts of thousands, if not millions of people around the world. With songs about masturbation and a lot of it written on drugs, its hard to argue that this album is particularly intellectual but that's the point, it's not and it's not meant to be.
Dookie truly changed the landscape of music at the time, and songs like "Basket Case," "Welcome To Paradise," and "Longview" are still classics that sit alongside songs such as "Coming Clean," a wonderful tale of Billie Joe coming to terms with his bisexuality and hopeless love songs like "She." Dookie will forever go down as a classic and will be studied within music for hopefully, generations.
So there we have it, my list of 5 of the best Pop-Punk records ever. There's many more that I would recommend and would urge you to listen to but frankly talking about these albums has made me want to grab my guitar, tune it to E Flat and write some "four chord" songs.