Has Punk Turned Pop?

I was listening to Zane Lowe’s show on BBC Radio 1 the other week and was really shocked to hear the first UK air play of Green Day’s new record Kill The DJ. Its laid back vibe and catchy melody, seemed completely out of the ordinary, compared to their previous riotous hits, such as American Idiot. I’m not personally a Green Day fan, but this latest style braves a step in a new direction. So much so that – dare I say it – as a non Green Day fan, I didn’t mind too much listening to it. Admitting to Zane Lowe that this record along with the others on their upcoming three albums, was about ‘fun mixed with a lot of just passion and hard work’ (Joe, 13 August 2012), they wanted to ‘throw the rulebook out’ (Joe, 13 August 2012). They are experimenting with new sounds, whilst at the same time, continue to incorporate dark and complex lyrics; type that tells a story, words which have evolved from greater meaning. However, although I welcome experimentation in music, isn’t there some kind of bravado and persona that we like our bands to keep this image we have created for them?

When you think of a punk rock band, is it really about the music these days or more the image that is associated with the genre? Punk used to be about the clothing, the attitude – I’m not sure that comes across so much anymore. Is Punk more an era, an image of what was considered outrageous, a legacy rather than what we consider punk to be now? I think so. Although, there is no denying that Green Day are a punk rock band, and their recent secret performance at Reading festival supports this. There is still that element that Punk has changed and adapted as the years float by.

To further this realisation, I barely recognised Simple Plan, singing their new song Summer Paradise, featuring the unexpected Sean Paul. I feel they have exchanged their previous punk image for a more conventional, radio idealised record; it’s catchy and about love. It’s a whole new image for the band that once sung about being misunderstood, alone and wanting to escape the confines of life. With successes such as Perfect, Welcome to My Life, Shut Up! and my favourite, Untitled, highlighting this. ‘Because we lost it all, nothing lasts forever, I’m sorry I can’t be perfect’ has evolved into ‘We’re crashing like waves, we’re playing in the sand, holding your hand’. So long to the harsh guitar riffs, smashing symbols, and overtly whiney vocals. Dark music videos, black clothing and dyed hair have been replaced for beaches, acoustic guitars and camp fires! I think the Punk era is over.

I think it says something for the music of 2012. We can collaborate with genres without having that divide, which is a positive thing. However equally, I do think we have lost those iconic images that came with the punk generation, with bands such as the Ramones or the Sex Pistols. Some may question why we have to label it, these days we have a name for every genre of music. If it’s not punk it’s now pop punk, alternative punk, punk rock. We create our own styles which allows for musical freedom. I’m not seeing this alternative sound as a negative, instead I am only observing, and sincerely welcome the fact that, like everything, with time, music evolves.

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