Say that five times fast! Or, you could debate on the common themes of “I don’t want to grow up” and “You can’t make me become an adult” — both of which are predominantly explored all throughout the pop punk genre.
I have a theory that certain music genres carry certain emotional themes. Dance music is probably the most straight-forward example of this. If you’re going to be dancing, you should probably be dancing to songs that sing about parties, nightlife, bottles, VIP service and other things associated with living life like there’s no such thing as daylight. It’s almost like being on a dance floor with your very own soundtrack playing in the background. And that’s because, if you don’t feel like the most important party goer ever when you’re listening to the latest Electro hit, then they’re probably not doing their job correctly.
On a more complex level, the same is seen with earlier genres of music, such as hymns. They served a very specific purpose of being able to communicate scripture to church patrons in a way that was musical (and thus very easy to memorize). Furthermore, Blues is one of those genres that not only has very specific moods and emotions behind it, but it was also named solely after that mood! (“You’ve got the blues” becomes a commonplace description of life, not just a type of music.)
Getting back to the point at hand, pop punk does the same as its musical genre brethren. You commonly find what I like to call the Peter Pan Pop Punk Situation, or PPP…PS for short. I’m still working on the name. The idea is that pop punk represents a supreme belief in being young forever. No rules, no authority. No adult life situations. All adventure, all the time.
Even sad and mature themes in pop punk music have a “Oh well, that’s life and I won’t let it get me down or change me” vibe to it. Pop punk kings Blink-182 dive into the subject of broken homes in their song “Stay Together For the Kids”, which is surprisingly sung from the child’s perspective — even though at the time of its release, singers Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge were both married and later became fathers that year.
My most recent example and admiration is State Champs, whose lyrics are associated to the everyday angsty, uncertain, and adventurous aspects of young adult life. A Tumblr search of the band will find lyrics about everything from heartache to sheer defiance, such as:
“So they say, there are shades of grey in a lifetime. If that is so, I’ll let you know that I am looking on the bright side.”
and in another song,
“We’re growing up, but I’ll stay young, even if it kills me.”
Lyrics that would make Peter Pan very proud, indeed.
Recently resurrected punk act New Found Glory has shown that they still yearn for the “We will never grow up” and the “We will never fall in love” ideals that first skyrocketed the band back in the 90s. They’ve built a heavy repertoire of heartbreak songs and yet few of these songs will actually break your heart. New Found Glory’s approach to bad relationships is very relatable to a young adult or a teen, as they take a “Oh well, I’ll move on” approach to relationships — something that we often tend to do as we get old enough to want independence, but still young enough to not worry about finding Mr. or Mrs. Right.
It’s lyrics like these that keep that youth spirit alive, and one of the reasons why pop punk can be inspiring and revitalizing. We listen to a lot of music not because we can relate to the lyrics at that exact moment in our lives, but because music is simply the soundtrack to our lives. We are attracted to the songs that embody all the emotions with which we’re already all too familiar. Whether that feeling is nostalgic to a time when we were young and alive! Or whether that feeling is the hope of finding a love that won’t shatter our hearts.
So, despite having a mainstream career that can be compared to the very short-lived and short-loved nu metal, why is pop punk still so popular? Musical vets like New Found Glory prove that you can continue in this genre, based merely on the dedication of its fans. (They even launched a “Pop Punk’s Not Dead” tour back in 2010!) My theory relies on that young-at-heart stance that this genre always pulls out. Its fans will always listen, because they will always be able to relate to that feeling of living life to the fullest with little to no regrets, no matter what age. Or as State Champs say in their single “We Are the Brave”: “Well these days are only getting longer, when everyday we’re only getting stronger.” Stronger, indeed.
If you want to see and feel these lyrics for yourself, State Champs is now on tour with New Found Glory and Cartel, and will be opening up for NFG at the House of Blues, San Diego this Friday. Check out this link for tickets and info.