What’s the difference between pop-punk and emo? Almost nothing, but that certainly wasn’t the case back in middle school, when you were sure that both genres were unique in their own special ways, just like you. If it’s been years since you busted out your pop punk playlist, I’ve got a treat for you. After all, once your iPod mini died, so did all of your favorite hits from the mid-2000s. So put on your headphones, jam out at your cubicle, and think about days when you were sure shopping at Hot Topic made you totally punk rock. Who knows, maybe you’ll want to return to your studded bracelets and Converse of days past, but your boss probably wouldn’t like that.
It’s surprising to me that Panic! At The Disco is still trucking, but every so often they appear with Fall Out Boy somewhere unexpected. These Vegas boys were the real shockers of the pop punk world, because they talked about sex and sin, even though I’m pretty sure they were Mormon. It’s unclear to me who’s listening to them now, other than the next generation of middle schoolers.
Cute Is What We Aim For was a band made up of posers, you guys. Along with Simple Plan, Hawthorne Heights, Avril, and all of the other pop punk personalities I decided to hate as a tween. Even as an adult I can’t seem to figure out what those guys were saying, but in a fit of nostalgia it’s always fun to try by taking a look at their indecipherable lyrics. “Are you perspiring from the irony?” and “I want someone provocative and talkative, but it’s so hard when you’re shallow as a shower” should be Grammy nominated. This band is basically as good as The Beatles, if not better.
Remember back when Good Charlotte was totally punk rawk, you guys? I do, because when my best friend and I went to their concert in 7th grade we thought we were as punk as humanly possible. Judging by the amount of Juicy Couture that surrounded us once we got into the “mosh pit,” we were wrong. Back before the days of dating/marrying Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, Good Charlotte seemed like the ultimate underdogs. They were tatted up, bad ass (in my middle school eyes), and hated everything and everyone, just like I did. It was a match made in heaven, until they started releasing techno hits and turned in to paparazzi loving d-bags. But hey, I’ll always have Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, even if they are living it now.
Like Good Charlotte, Fall Out Boy seemed totally punk at the time… until I did a cheerleading routine set to one of their songs. Unfortunately, as time went out, they sold out. Pete Wentz sent those awkward nude selfies before naked mirror pics were a thing, started dating the unfortunate Simpson sister, and become a paparazzi mainstay. Luckily, they’re back now, if you’re into nostalgia. Plus, their lead singer Patrick Stump is super skinny now, which proves that dreams do come true.
Oh, Yellowcard. I thought it was totally legit that you had a violinist, who I may or may not have been a little bit in love with. There was no better soundtrack for a middle school commute. It’s pretty terrifying to think that the song 23 seemed so far away at the time (along with Something Corporate’s 21 and Invincible), but hey, everyone gets old. Makes sense, since Yellowcard did a 10 year reunion tour for their Ocean Avenue album this year, but sadly I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, which I’m still bitter about. You guys are all such posers.
There’s nothing better than the nostalgia The Ataris make you feel. Honestly, they made me nostalgic as a middle schooler, so it’s increased tenfold now. If you don’t listen to In This Diary and feel all the feelings about summer, your middle school BFFs (where are they now?), and remember when life was entirely stress-free because all you had to do was hang out with your friends in a parking lot, you’re no friend of mine. If “being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up, these are the best days of our lives,” wasn’t a quote on your AIM profile, I probably can’t relate to you as a human being. In middle school my friends and I made a music video to this song, and to this day I maintain it was pure art. Sure, I haven’t seen it in over 10 years (#old), but I can’t help but think that our Von Dutch trucker hats really added something to the green screen. I used to try to limit the amount of times I listened to this song, because I didn’t want to ruin it. I loved it that much. I honestly wish I liked anything as an adult half as much as I liked pop punk music in middle school.
I can’t help but think Hayley Nickole Williams would be a real wet blanket. She desperately needs to see a hair stylist, she pic slipped a nude on Twitter and didn’t own up to it, and she’s as whiny as they come, even as a full blown adult. But hey, it wouldn’t be a pop-punk playlist without the addition of Paramore, even if Hayley seems to hate the ladies just as much as her emo male counterparts do. I do have some respect for Paramore, because singing along to them on Rock Band is harder than one would think.
Warped Tour superstars Bowling For Soup may have been one hit wonders, but they were amazing at it. “Girl All The Bad Guys Want” is perfect for every single person who has ever been in a one sided relationship with a crush, which is basically every middle schooler, ever. This song references rap-metal, turntables, and pagers, so it may be a little dated, but it’s still absolutely perfect for anytime you’re feeling pangs of unrequited love.