15 pop-punk bands everyone loves but refuses to admit it
Let’s be clear about one thing: no good really comes from snobbish musical gatekeepers. Whatever your tastes, don’t let any internet troll tell you how to feel about the bands you love.
It wasn’t easy to be loved in the late-’00s, no matter how differently people may try to reframe history nowadays. People will always love to hate, and these bands sometimes got (or still get!) the worst of it. Whether they’ve found success across the globe, or they were crystallised in the era of MySpace, here are 15 pop-punk acts that just can’t get the recognition they deserve.
But you know you love them, really. Whether you’re willing to admit it or not…
Bowling For Soup
Known for their earworm pop-rock track 1985, Bowling For Soup were regulars in the Warped Tour circuit for most of the 2000s. Back then, who didn’t want to hear upbeat songs about slamming beers and grousing about your ex’s new man? These days, they seem to be annual live fixtures on the nostalgia circuit, providing one of the most fun nights out possible.
The All-American Rejects
Who wasn’t singing Dirty Little Secret for the entirety of 2005? The Oklahoma rockers were one of the more commercially successful pop-rock acts to break out in the early aughts, gaining massive traction with other singles from their first album, Move Along. They struck gold again in 2008 with the track Gives You Hell, a grungey (well… ish) breakup track. It was around this time that lead singer Tyson Ritter booked acting jobs on both House M.D. and The House Bunny (similar names… very different themes). The All-American Rejects have recently signed to Epitaph Records and have teased that new music is in the works.
Mayday Parade will celebrate their 15th anniversary next year and the Floridians show no signs of slowing down. Famously selling tens of thousands of copies of their first EP Tales Told By Dead Friends without any label co-sign, the band have since released six full-length albums, each chock-full of crooning ballads and power-pop anthems. We will now grant you a five-minute, 17-second intermission to listen to Miserable At Best and have a good cry.
Less Than Jake
Okay, so they’re not strictly pop-punk, but ska suffered similar criticisms from outsiders, never really getting any respect. We’ll let you battle it out in the comments, anyway. At any rate, Less Than Jake have been a band for almost three decades, and that deserves some recognition. The group have famously played over 365 days of Warped Tour, inspiring a tour-wide T‑shirt design when they hit the milestone in 2014. Regardless, they prove you can make an honest living with a guitar – or maybe a trombone.
We never expected a band whose big break was playing during the final scenes in an Olsen twins movie to be overflowing with cred (for those of you watching along at home: New York Minute, featuring Mary Kate and Ashley). However, Canadian quintet Simple Plan are one of the few bands on this list who are still going strong to this day, having just wrapped up a stateside co-headlining tour with State Champs. Their emo ballads about being a kid who’s left out and misunderstood still hold up decades later, with most of the members being fathers themselves.
Forever The Sickest Kids
Breaking out with their 2008 album Underdog Alma Mater, Texas locals Forever The Sickest Kids found success on MySpace and parlayed that into multiple stints on Warped Tour, plus a regular rotation of tours with other neon pop-punk acts. However, the band went dark in 2013, only re-emerging to play So What?! Fest in 2017 and Sad Summer in 2019.
Never Shout Never
Christofer Drew was the barefoot, long-haired ukuleleist of our dreams, singing cheery songs about heartbreak – no wonder no-one took him seriously at first. Releasing the Me And My Uke EP in 2009, which featured the saccharine track Trouble, Drew and co. inked a major label deal before most bands of that era could get a decent tour manager. Many years later, Never Shout Never have released quite a catalogue and headed out on the aptly-titled Throwback Tour in 2017, but since 2018’s EP Violett Soul, they’ve been largely silent.
Rounding out the neon pop-punk era were Breathe Carolina, the Denver duo who just wanted to dance. Their 2009 album Hello Fascination broke out thanks to both the title track and the middle-fingers-in-the-air anthem I.D.G.A.F.. After a few more albums full of scene bangers and sunburnt summers on Warped Tour, founding member Kyle Even left the band, and the lineup shifted as they refined their new sound. Since the addition of Tommy Cooperman, the band has successfully crossed over into the EDM world, amassing tens of millions of streams on their remixes and original tracks. Now you get to say you’ve known them since the beginning!
Despite only releasing two full-lengths, The Cab made quite the impact on the scene with their pop-rock bedroom jams. Fronted by Alex Deleon and his trademark rotating roster of black beanies, the group toured with the likes of Panic! At The Disco and Cobra Starship throughout the late 2000s. There hasn’t been much activity in their camp lately, as Deleon has been focusing on his alt-pop solo project Bohnes.
The Summer Set
This Arizona five-piece burst into the public eye with their 2009 album Love Like This, packed with 11 snarky pop songs about love, lust and that somewhere in between. Including the hits Chelsea (about The Summer Set frontman Brian Dales’ then-girlfriend Disney star Chelsea Kane) and The Boys You Do (Get Back At You), LLT took the band to new heights. After three more records, they sadly called it quits in 2017.
After Jason Lancaster parted ways with Mayday Parade, he went on to found Go Radio. Their debut record Welcome To Life featured the song Goodnight Moon, accruing millions of streams and inspiring an embarrassing amount of AIM ‘away’ messages. Despite releasing back-to-back albums in 2011 and 2012, (Lucky Street and Closing The Distance, respectively) the band cooled after a stint on 2013’s Warped Tour. They announced a hiatus in 2013, but posted a reunion message in late 2019, so you can start getting excited about new music right this minute.
Hit The Lights
Ohio-based Hit The Lights were always just trying to make it out of their hometown. Their 2006 hit Bodybag got them pretty close, helping them score tours with All Time Low and New Found Glory throughout the 2000s, as did the release of the full-length record Skip School, Start Fights. They’ve released two more albums since (2012’s Invicta and 2015’s Summer Bones), but haven’t released new music since 2016’s acoustic EP Just To Get Through To You.
No-one knew what to make of Good Charlotte in 2002. Twin brothers with tattoos, piercings and dyed hair, playing… pop-rock? It didn’t make sense, but it was catchy, so record execs didn’t ask too many questions. With smash hits including The Anthem, Girls & Boys, and Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous (and this is all just from 2002’s The Young And The Hopeless), Good Charlotte have amassed a catalogue that could have seen them retire a long ago. Yet, they’re still here making new music, all while running their own management company (MDDN) in the process, helping to steer the careers of the next generation of artists (like recent Kerrang! coverstars Waterparks).
The Dangerous Summer
Another band who continue to find success to this day are The Dangerous Summer. Signing with Hopeless Records shortly after graduating high school in 2006, TDS went on to release their debut studio album in 2009, Reach For The Sun. Containing the duel hits of The Permanent Rain and Where I Want To Be, the record shot them into the pop-punk pantheon, and put them on the stages of Warped Tour and Bamboozle. After a short hiatus, the band returned in 2017 with their self-titled record, and released their fifth studio full-length Mother Nature in 2019. According to frontman AJ Perdomo, new music is already in the works.
It’s hard to take any band seriously whose main hit is called I Woke Up In A Car. But, it comes from good pedigree: Something Corporate was founded by Jack’s Mannequin frontman Andrew McMahon, who has gone on to perform solo under the moniker Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness. Something Corporate only released two studio albums, but after a three-year hiatus, they returned in 2010 to release a best of collection (Played In Space) and a brief reunion tour. For anyone who still thinks, ‘Jack’s Mannequin were better,’ go listen to Punk Rock Princess one more time, and get back to us.
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