Underground & Mainstream Pop Punk

by: Erin Lopez

The Merging of Pop and Punk


Pop Punk was created as one of the many subgenres of Punk Rock, but through its popularity, it became more of a genre. Pop Punk is the merging of the radio friendly pop, with the hardcore genre of Punk Rock. Bands such as "The Ramones" and "The Descendants" merged the two genres together in their music in the 80's.

“The subgenre of pop punk largely stayed underground until bands combined angsty lyrics with more of an upbeat sound. Groups such as Blink 182 and New Found Glory began gaining popularity in the early ’90s. This is where the golden age of popular pop punk began.”

History of Pop Punk Bands

70's and 80's Pop Punk:

The songs at the time in this genre were inspired by and had to do with love, lust, drunkenness, drugs, cartoonish violence, and low-brow rebellion. (lowbrow-a person who is uninterested, not involved, or uneducated in intellectual activities or pursuits). At this time the bands were not as well known or mainstream as the bands that formed in the 90's. Bands around this time were The Descendents, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Offspring, and etc.
The Ramones: Sheena Is A Punk Rocker

90's Pop Punk:

The "Era of Pop Punk" came in the nineties when Pop Punk was at its most popular but the songs still consisted of the same topics of drunkeness, love, rebellion, and etc. Some of the most popular bands at this time were Blink-182 and Green Day, but there were others such as New Found Glory, Bowling for Soup, Sum 41, Good Charlotte, and etc. The teens of this generation felt out of place in the crowd, as if they didn't belong, and this helped the genre grow because so many people felt like the music could relate to their lives in many different ways.

"Fast driving guitars, the occasional bass and drum solo, relatable lyrics of the glory of love and agony of losing it, all drove the heart and soul of the pop punk power engine."

Blink 182 - I Miss You on Rove Live 2004

Modern Day Pop Punk Bands

The Wonder Years (Underground):

The Wonder Years are an example of underground Pop Punk bands. They are older and less popular than the well known bands you might hear on the radio. They are very much still influenced by Blink 182 and Greenday but they have more of the punk edge to their sound. The members in the band wanted the music to be very relatable and real, especially to the ones who "never fit in". Because they want to give everybody the opportunity to relate and be able to attend shows/concerts the tickets are not pricey and the shows are not always on fancy stages (tickets to one show were only 18$). Because they do have the more punk edge they are not always radio friendly and are not as well known by the teens of today. There are also bands like Silent Majority, The Gamits (who actually formed in 1996 but have come out with songs recently), Fhloston Paradise, and etc.

The Wonder Years - Came Out Swinging - Live

5 Seconds of Summer (Mainstream):

5SOS, a band made of four Australian teenage boys, is described as the next beginning of a new Pop Punk era. Some critics though believe 5SOS might have too much of the "pop" sound and not enough "punk" which could possibly affect the reputation of Punk Rock/Punk Pop. Others think there is not enough of a line between whether 5SOS is a pop punk band or a boyband. But as some pages pointed out, Pop Punk is about the loud guitars and the songs all about having fun, not fitting in/being rebellious, and heart break, which is what the band have represented in their songs and the success of 5SOS can help the popularity of the whole genre. One example is that they have covered songs from the pop punk bands of the 80's and 90's and made them into hits again. This is not necessarily the most popular mainstream Pop Punk band, but only the most recent. Other bands in this genre that formed in the early 2000's are Paramore, Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, Panic! At the Disco, and etc.

Rejects- 5SOS at The Forum

Mainstream VS Underground Pop Punk (music/bands)


Mainstream Pop Punk Bands are the Pop Punk bands and songs played often and listened to more often by the majority of the people. Mainstream Pop Punk songs still consist of love, lust, drunkeness, and etc but they also includes fun upbeat melodies and catchy tunes (more about the having fun and living life rather than the more hardcore lyrics and tunes you would find in Punk Rock). The songs become very popular and "Mainstream Pop Punk" is really what caused the "era of Pop Punk" and made Pop Punk so well known in the 90's (These are the bands like Green Day, Blink-182, 5 Seconds of Summer, All Time Low, and etc). These songs and bands are more heard on the radio than what bands would be considered the "Underground Pop Punk" bands.


Underground Pop Punk is the lesser heard of the two (between underground and mainstream). Underground Pop Punk bands and music are not as popular or commonly heard of, and most likely have more of a punk edge although their songs still talk about love, lust, drunkeness, not fitting in, and more. Because of their more "punk edge" they can be less "radio friendly" and might also have whats considered a "darker" meaning behind the lyrics and music. (These are the bands like The Wonder Years, The Gamits, Fholston Paradise, and etc.)

What the Future Holds for Pop Punk (bands and music)

Pop Punk Has Another "Wave" of Popularity:

Blink 182 created a wave of Pop Punk lovers and a wave of the Pop Punk era through their popularity. Pop Punks fans are hoping this will again be the outcome of the popularity of 5 Seconds of Summer. In an article written by a Pop Punk enthusiast, they do mention 5sos being a bit more on the pop side but they also mention that 5SOS is under the name of the Pop Punk genre and not only their success but also the success of All Time Low, Fall Out Boy, and Paramore, will only lead to the success for the genre and other bands in the genre. It is believed that Pop Punk will become the "thing" and this will mean a "musical gold rush" for the genre in the future.