I’m not ashamed to admit to the not-so-secret love affair I had with pop-punk throughout my middle school years and I know I’m not the only one. Nearly everyone born in the ‘90s experienced a pop-punk phase at some point in their adolescence. Songs with high-pitched catchy choruses about finding and/or losing true love were as popular as playing ZAP.
Though I no longer listen to this genre of music, I have no regrets. It’s true: Mistakes were made. But having the ability to make those mistakes meant more than the mistakes themselves. It’s time we recognize our past mistakes as a significant moment in our development into adulthood. And what better way to recognize such a moment in time than to relive it. Here’s a playlist that will get you feeling those middle school feels all over again:
“All The Small Things” — Blink 182
How is lead singer Tom DeLonge’s voice so annoying yet so perfect for the up-tempo style of pop-punk California trio Blink 182 is known for? DeLonge’s whiny vocal timbre perfectly navigates the song’s lyrical ambition of — yup, you guessed it — falling in love. As one of the most successful groups to come out of this genre, Blink 182 developed a formula for creating a perfect pop-punk song. And they showcase that ability on this track, which remains the band’s most popular hit.
“Sugar, We’re Goin Down” — Fall Out Boy
Nothing simultaneously emphasizes and deemphasizes a song’s lyrics more than screaming them at the top of your lungs so loudly that they become incomprehensible. No one utilized this screaming technique better than Fall Out Boy lead singer Patrick Stump. Apparently, Stump is singing “ We’re going down, down in an earlier round,” but all I can ever hear is “We’re going down, down budda budda da budda.” Either way, it’s impossible to not to get a feeling of nostalgia when the song’s intro fades away, leaving Stump’s hollow vocals to ask “Is this more than you bargained for?”
“Welcome to the Black Parade” — My Chemical Romance
You’re not a real member of the pop-punk fan club until they know all the words to “Welcome to the Black Parade.” The ballad became an anthem for angsty teens across the world and consequently became the band’s most popular song of all time. The song’s extended intro is reminiscent of The Killer’s “All These Things That I Have Done,” but way too emo to compete in the mainstream. The track still shot the band to new levels of worldwide popularity, though. Also, My Chemical Romance has to be the most pop-punk sounding band name ever.
“Gives You Hell” — The All-American Rejects
It would be a pop-punk playlist without the spit-filled middle finger to the face that is The All-American Rejects hit-single, “Gives You Hell.” This song is everything you ever wanted to say to your middle school best friend who betrayed you by stealing your girlfriend or boyfriend. I just can’t help but want to ask lead singer Tyson Ritter: Who hurt you? Stylistically, this song is a pop-punk masterpiece. A catchy chorus that includes scandalous profanity? Check. A breakdown that’s just the chorus shouted over simple percussion? Check. A feeling of satisfaction after screaming away all the frustration that came from your last relationship? CHECK.
“Fat Lip” — Sum 41
I can’t imagine a song that represents the terrible culture of angst and rebellion that was the 2000s for some of our generation than Sum 41’s “Fat Lip.” This might be lazy journalism, but you’ll know what I’m talking about once you read this section of the song’s lyrics: “I don’t want to waste my time, become another casualty of society / I’ll never fall in line, become another victim of your conformity and back down.” You can’t tell me those lyrics aren’t the most teenage frustration you’ve ever seen packed into a single stanza.
Listen to the full playlist here: