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Punk Pop vs. Pop Punk, Ramones-core vs. Hi-Fi Punk

By Milo Paul | 4/12/17 12:28am
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The Offspring, unfortunately, was how I was introduced to Punk. “Punk”.

Growing up a Beatles aficionado, arguing constantly to more musically knowledgeable classmates that Ringo Starr was the world’s best drummer (Hey, he’s filthy rich and Keith Moon is dead, I thought that theory held weight), I still would tune in to DC 101 and listen to that Kevin Smith-humored radio host recycle the same Southern California songs over and over. I loved the Offspring, but really only because it was my sole access to that noise back then.

Of course, I grew like a beanstalk from there. I found Bad Religion when I preached dogmatically about my atheism, Sum 41 when the emo of the day wasn’t attacking my eardrums enough, the Descendents when my sexual and gender identities were developing. Something about that raw, crackling guitar over the laser-like hurling of vocalist Milo Aukerman resonated with the equally as loud testosterone within me, the hormones and body that I hated like vermin and wished to not wake up to in the morning. It’s why I changed my name to Milo, despite the Descendents’ “friend-zone”-centric lyrical repertoire. Pop sensibility coexisting with audial thundernuggets complied well with my taste.

While I have moved on to bigger and better things (Garage Punk and Folk Punk, namely), I still think about that music, and what I liked about it. The discourse shan’t be Foucauldian, but Lillingtons-ian.

I will not being discussing melodic hardcore. My roots are shaded by the branches and leaves of said genre, but my curiosity is driven by its derivatives: Punk Pop and Pop Punk. Now, what does that mean?

Punk Pop, or Ramones-core in some circles, is what I consider to be melodic hardcore’s baby brother. The elements that comprise this genre can be summarized into the typical three chord philosophy that its namesake held, but I believe there’s more to it than that. The Ramones were, in their opinion, an attempt at a pop group. Each mop-top motorcycle-fiend member loved 50s rock ‘n’ roll and doowop- the ultimate garage band in that they had the stars in their eyes but inability in their hands. Johnny Ramone’s infamous “chainsaw” strumming style was developed in response to his shit picking; Tommy learned how to drum because Joey was too tall for the drum set they owned, even though he was originally just the group’s manager. Somehow, their intense love of music craft- as much as they butchered it- and general inaptitude inspired an entire subgenre. Ben Weasel caught that wave, drew out a current, and oops! The Riverdales and Screeching Weasel. Kody Templeman caught those winds in Wisconsin and golly! The Lillingtons and Teenage Bottlerocket! Manic DIY pop music out the ass-end of a tincan, intellectually dissecting grand ontological constructs like whether you want to go to a party tonight, you wanna be a homosexual, or if you will or will not sniff that glue.

Example: 

To sum up my feelings towards Pop Punk, let’s just say I am more than a little bit happy that Warped Tour is dead. For the most part, pop punk has abandoned the punk part of its title for the lofty headship that is “pop music with guitars”. The genre has come a long way since Green Day or Blink 182, but it has catapulted, ricocheted, bean-bagged and coprophagiated into a disgustingly self-indulgent, grimier take on *NSYNC. Yes, I am being too harsh, but pop punk became emo/screamo, which became emo/screamo pop, which became fucking crunkcore. The alleles are too similar; I really can’t give this genre my respect anymore.

White boys encompass every concert and ADHD fuels the pogo, not anger. The Young Ones have been replaced by Degrassi. “A tribute to [insert punk band]” albums are now Kidzbop. My scene’s mythos are being hijacked, and this pisses me off.

Punk purism aside, here’s an example: 

Now, of course there’s more to these two, and sometimes bands are a mesh of both (I call Green Day to the stand), but my last words about the subject go like this:

“Mark Hoppus can suck a fat one”

Write the above on my tombstone, please.