Love it or loathe it, pop punk is a genre that evokes a strong emotion in the listener. Of course, this emotion depends on who the listener is. For the world’s angsty young punks it’s music that understands your life like no one else. But if you come from old school or hard-core side of the Punk fence then that emotion might be a little less friendly.
Any musical sub-genre is a merge of influences, one major, the others possibly more subtle but still evident. You could argue the origins of pop-punk and what an interesting debate that would be: Did it evolve from the 70’s punk explosion in the UK with the Sex Pistols, The Clash and the Buzzcocks? Or could it be stripped right back to the garage rock and proto-punk bands of the ’60s including The Kinks, MC5 and The Stooges with a smattering of Beatlesque pop thrown in for good measure?
Regardless of its origins, pop-punk, as we know it today, is solidly embedded in the world of popular music, rising full of rebellion and emitting empathy to ‘the young and the hopeless’. The mid to late ’90s were smashed with an insurgence of American and Canadian bands taking the genre’s reins with game-changers Green Day, Blink 182 and The Offspring leading the way taking over the airwaves in a huge way.
For millions of fans, pop-punk represents so much more than just a catchy song on the radio. Not so much focusing on the political and social issues like previous generations of punk rock, these were songs for the adolescent underdog, the misfits, the broken and forgotten youth crying out for someone to acknowledge their existence. As Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong pointed out:
” We’re not a political band. We don’t want to tell people what to do or what to think. We just want to tell them to think.”Billy Joe ArmstrongTweet
Our “Top 10 Most Influential Pop Punk Bands of The ’90s and 2000s’ may seem a little more pop than punk, to some but regardless of how you see it, these bands took the genre to giddying heights and gave, and continue to give, generations of teens something to believe in.
Just as the Simple Plan hit expressed through music exactly what their fans were telling them – “I was broken, I was choking, I was lost, This Song Saved My Life”.
10. A Day to Remember
A Day To Remember (ADTR) was a later addition to the ranks of influence but still completely worthy of a place. Forming in 2003, they have brought a dynamic combination of pop-punk, metalcore and post-hardcore together like no one else.
The musical influences within the band’s members stretch from Blink 182 to Stevie Ray Vaughn. Unlike other bands in this list, ADTR didn’t hit the ground running from their first album but have put in the hard work touring and building up a dedicated following around the globe resulting in a massive and dedicated fanbase. With six studio albums, three EP’s and well over a dozen singles including hits ‘All I Want’ and ‘The Downfall of Us All’ they keep the music alive by doing things their own way. Their ballad feat. Sierra Kay (VersaEmerge), ‘If It Means A Lot To You’ from their 2009 Homesick album is as pop punk as it gets pulling in over 130 million streams on Spotify alone. They’re not afraid to change things up and add just enough chilli to the mix to spice it up. They have influenced many young bands to do the same, encouraging them to go out and create something unique and brilliant.
9. Simple Plan
When Canadian nice guys Simple Plan bounded onto the scene in 1999 with their debut album ‘No Pads, No Helmets…. Just Balls’, it was evident straight away that they’d stumbled across the formula for pure pop punk at its best. Their Converse clad feet hit the ground running and haven’t stopped. They were popular on the Vans Warped Tour circuit from joining the lineup 13 times between 1999 – 2019. Although leaning more toward pop rather than punk they’re music has always remained true to their original sound and this has proven to be a massive success with five studio albums, two live albums, three EP’s and 20 hit singles they have found a way to connect with their fans like not many high profile bands. Their music captures adolescent fears, hopes and dreams like no other. But their fanbase goes way beyond just teens, drawing of all ages old and new to their shows. And with almost six million monthly listeners on Spotify alone their popularity doesn’t seem to be falling.
8. Jimmy Eat World
Jimmy Eat World came to life back in 1993 but it was their 2001 fourth studio album Bleed America that shot them into the commercial music realm. Bringing the Emo mix to Pop Punk, this album brings forth a pouring of emotions with melodic pop-punk feels. With four singles from this album hitting the top 20 of the Alternative Music charts bringing them worldwide attention with their hit ‘The Middle’. The momentum was kept alive with another six studio albums and although their latest offering Surviving leans more toward the pop-punk/rock than emo it’s an ode to the fact that Jimmy Eat World are still surviving and consistently not only bringing their fans something they can relate to lyrically but keeping new with their constantly evolving sound.
7. Sum 41
Pop-punk , skate punk, punk rock or skirting the borders of metal, Sum 41 aren’t bound by rules when it comes to their music. They play whatever the fuck they want. Can’t get more punk than that. With the explosive energy of frontman Derek Whibley, a Sum 41 live show is a mosh or circle pit fan’s total nirvana.
Their second album 2001’s ‘All Killer No Filler’ launched these hard-working Canadian punk rockers into the pits of success selling over ten million copies. With over 30 million album sales worldwide and over five and a half million monthly listeners on Spotify, their musical content is still as relevant today as it was almost 20 years ago. The bands relentless touring manages to consistently draw massive crowds and continually influence young bands around the world. Sum 41’s 2002 hit ‘Still Waiting’ screams out from the start – “So am I still waiting for this world to stop hating, can’t find a good reason. Can’t find hope to believe in.” If that’s not relevant now I don’t know what is.
Paramore has had a tumultuous career for such a young band. Forming in 2004, still all their teens, they released their debut album ‘All We Know Is Falling’ in 2005 and still sitting high on the streaming charts are set to release their sixth studio album later this year. Despite many line up changes within the band, they have continually released albums that inspire and call out to their audience.
They traverse the genres of pop, punk, emo, and rock with ease but the early pop-punk driven albums are the purest forms of pop-punk perfection. A solid fixture on the Vans Warped touring circuit for many years, their music has fallen toward a more pop-driven sound of late, but nothing can take away the success of their earlier albums and the influence Hayley Williams has had as a female idol to millions of young women around the world.
The single ‘Misery Business’ from their 2007 sophomore album Riot! is still their highest selling and with almost nine million monthly Spotify listeners streaming their music their popularity is standing the test of time. In a male-dominated environment, along with Avril Lavigne, she was one of the few pop-punk leading ladies empowering her female followers, showing them that you can be whatever you want to be with determination and flair.
5. Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy evolved from Chicago’s punk scene in 2001 put together by Pete Wentz and Joe Trohman as a Pop Punk side project from their respective hard-core bands. Patrick Stump joined soon after with Andy Hurley eventually taking a permanent seat at the drums.
Their 2003 debut album ‘Take This To Your Grave’ was an underground success and is widely considered an influential blueprint for Pop-Punk music in the 2000s. By 2005, with Wentz writing lyrics and Stump’s music, they fell into perfect synch producing ‘From Under The Cork Tree’ catapulting the band to success with hits including the ever-popular ‘Sugar, We’re Going Down’.
Two albums and four years later the band took a break addressing mental health issues. Returning after a three-year hiatus, the band surprised the fans (and the industry) with their 2013 album ‘Save Rock n Roll’ debuting at number one on the Billboard Charts. Even having Elton John as guest vocals on the title track. Remembering their roots they released a hardcore punk-influenced EP, PAX AM Days, that same year.
Then continually reinventing themselves in the best possible way, they released American Beauty/American Psycho in January 2015 becoming the band’s third number one album. FOB has continued to produce albums not quite like the last except that they are consistently hit. It’s always an exciting moment when you find out a new Fall Out Boy album is on the way.
4. Avil Lavigne
Avril Lavigne burst into charts in the early 2000’ giving teenagers (and beyond) the hero they needed. Her punk driven pop anthems and anti-starlet image was the inspiration for young women everywhere, opening a door for many female-led pop-punk, punk and rock bands to take on the world. Lavigne’s 2002 debut album ‘Let Go’ reached number two on the US Billboard 200, selling over 16 million copies worldwide.
Her debut single ‘Complicated’, has over 300m plays on Spotify, thanks to her 12 million-plus monthly listeners. Selling over 40 million albums, her reach and influence is still strong today with ‘Head Above Water’, her sixth studio album, released early 2019, after a six-year gap between recording.
Her latest offering embodies the strength and tenacity of this adored songstress with the album embracing her battle with Lyme disease and Lavigne taking on an integral role in the album’s production. There is no doubt her strength, passion and incredible talent was and is a powerful influence for so many embracing this Queen of Canadian Pop-Punk.
3. The Offspring
You can argue whether The Offspring fall into the category of pop-punk but there is no doubt of the influence they had on the future pop-punk legends to follow. When Californian punk band Manic Subsidal decided to change their name in 1986, little did they know the impact The Offspring would have on the world of punk rock.
They released their self-titled debut album in 1988, worked solidly for the next six years, building a name, touring the US and Europe with popular punk bands like Pennywise and NOFX but it wasn’t until the release of their third studio album ‘Smash’ in 1994 that they hit commercial success and it hit in a huge way.
With worldwide attention, singles ‘Come Out and Play’, ‘Gotta Get Away’ and ‘Self Esteem’ propelled the band to massive heights making ‘Smash’ the biggest selling record by an independent label with over 16 million in sales. With a string of hits including ‘You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid’, ‘Gone Away’ ‘Want You Bad’ over 32 years, nine studio albums and thousands of headlining tours later, The Offspring have permanently tattooed their name into the punk rock history books. Still drawing over eight and a half million monthly listeners on Spotify alone, there is no doubt of the influence this band has had on all forms of punk.
2. Blink 182
Blink 182 were with no doubt, the quintessential pop -unk idols blasted in many teenagers’ bedrooms to help them process their teenage angst throughout the ’90s and into the 00s. Selling well over 50 million albums worldwide, these Californian punk rockers hold, if not one of the biggest selling pop-punk albums of all time, definitely one of the most loved with their 1999 third album release – ‘Enema of the State’.
This album alone sold over 15 million worldwide and was basically a right of passage for a plethora of pop-punk fans around the world. The original line up of Tom DeLong, Mark Hoppus and Scott Raynor revelled in their early rise to pop-punk heights, which included hits ‘All The Small Things’ and ‘What’s My Age Again’ firmly securing Blink 182 a place in pop-punk history.
With the current line up of Hoppus, Travis Barker and Mark Skiba, Blink is still releasing quality pop-punk music. Although Hoppus has admitted that the band did “its best work” back when DeLonge was still a member, there’s no doubt they are still one of the key influential bands in the world with their eighth studio album Nine release in 2019 selling over 200,000 worldwide, and with almost six million followers and over ten million monthly listens on Spotify alone.
1. Green Day
It’s no surprise that Green Day come in at number one. With over 85 million in album sales across 13 studio, three live, five compilation albums and one soundtrack plus more, there is no arguing the popularity and impact Green Day have had on the world of pop punk music.
If you know anything about their 1994 third album release, ‘Dookie’ you’d understand. This definitive punk album, shamelessly named after suffering a bout of diarrhoea on tour, is full of nods toward smoking pot, masturbation, bisexuality, anxiety, loneliness and panic attacks.
You could sum it up in the open line of the track Coming Clean “Seventeen and strung out on confusion”. They won the 1995 best Alternative album at the Grammy’s which seems a juxtapose to punk but this just confirms the impact Billy Joe, Mike and Tré have had on the punk, rock and music world in general.
Their 2004 Rock Opera ‘American Idiot’ birthed a hit musical not only on Broadway but around the world. Green Day started with a spirit of rebellion that has stayed with the band throughout their career. Their influence is without doubt, and they have secured themselves the right to claim the punk rock throne as ‘Father Of All Motherf**kers’.
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Everyone should have a soundtrack playing loudly in the background of their life. I was born moshing to my own beat and have never swayed from my love of music. Spreading my passion through the written word is my soul’s purpose. My punk heart beats loudly with the rhythm of my rock soul. I plan to continue to mosh like no one gives a shit.
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