Listen: State Champs have covered What’s My Age Again? by blink-182
Hear State Champs’ cover of blink-182’s pop-punk classic What’s My Age Again?
Why did this record connect so strongly with people?
Derek Discanio: “It’s just a very straight, heartfelt, fun, catchy pop-punk album. We really didn’t overthink it. We had no idea what we were doing, really, and we had no expectations for it. We just wanted to present ourselves to the world as the people we were, and I think we did that.”
Allister never made it big, like most of the other bands in this list, but the Drive-Thru Records dudes did manage to write a pop-punk album with more bangers than a sausage factory. From Radio Player, to Overrated, to Racecars, to Somewhere On Fullerton, Last Stop Suburbia is 16 tracks of pure teenage joy.
If ultra-positive choruses that just beg to be screamed at the ceiling are your thing, then Mutiny! is, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the album for you. A remarkably consistent 11-track ripper that will leave you feeling ready to take on the world and win with a massive grin on your face.
If you mashed together the songs of the Ramones and the Beach Boys, you’d end up with something like The Queers. In fact, this, the band’s fifth album, takes its name from a Beach Boys song. We would have put their genius Love Songs For The Retarded record on this list, but this is just as good, only not as offensively named.
One complaint often levelled at pop-punk is that its structures and styles often follow a similar template no matter who you’re listening to. Not so with Say Anything, who, with …Is A Real Boy, dropped a debut full of quirky lyrical choices, stomping gang vocals and more songwriting imagination than most bands conjure in their entire career.
In the pop-punk family tree, Mest were Good Charlotte’s younger, slightly wayward brother. So, it’s fitting that Benji Madden lent his hand – and voice, on Jaded (These Years) – to this album. The GC touch, coupled with singer Tony Lovato’s ability to turn his darkest depths into catchy lines, saw the Chicago four-piece make their finest album.
Packed with pace, punch and more wickedly danceable breaks than you can shake a stick at, the 12 tracks and 21 minutes of Jersey’s Best Dancers remain as potent now as it was when pop-punk heroes Lifetime recorded it in 1997. Seminal stuff from the original pop-punk band for hardcore kids.
Full of beautiful, introspective lyricism and raucous, rattling instrumentation, Through Being Cool went on to influence an enormous number of the bands who make up the rest of this list. Put it this way: Patrick Stump lists it as one of the 10 albums that changed his life, saying, “There’s no chance I’d have been in Fall Out Boy if it weren’t for this record.”
This self-released debut from 2000 is a bit of a deep cut within this list, but the Huntington, New York, four-piece’s fledgling songs endure 15 years later. Harnessing the two-channel, shouted dual vocals of Phil Douglas and Matt Canino, this is a very special record. Shame they split up just seven years later.
Excluding a brief period where singer Kim Shattuck picked up a bass for the then Kim Deal-less Pixies in 2013, the LA lady has led The Muffs since their origin in 1991. This, their second album, is the best showcase of their pop-punk earworms, as well as that voice – sort of like an angel gargling razorblades.
In the ’80s, British punk was about three things: snot, cider and saying ‘fuck off’ to Margaret Thatcher. Unless you were Snuff, when it was all about pretending to be cockney and doing (intentionally shit) comedy covers. In 1996, this ridiculously titled record proved that older definitely does not mean wiser.
Pop-punk with violins? It couldn’t work, could it? Well, actually, yes, it could, and Ocean Avenue is so jam-packed with tunes that you’ll be wanting to get your bow out and start practising in no time. One of the genre’s more commercially successful albums, it’s sold well in excess of a million copies. Crumbs.
TSSF are, arguably, one of the most influential pop-punk bands of the modern era – their brand of baggy T-shirted stonerisms setting the trend for so much of what has come since they arrived on the scene. What You Don’t See is their finest hour to date, full of bounce, vim and vigour, and no small amount of aggression.
Lightning never strikes twice, and neither do vocal pairings as incredible as Mayday Parade’s Derek Sanders and Jason Lancaster, since the latter left the band before this 2007 album even came out. Still, he left us with a record full of hopelessly romantic pop-punk so good it’ll make your heart hurt (if it isn’t hurting already).
What are your personal favourite pop-punk albums of all time, Ben?
Ben Barlow: “It’s pretty hard. It’d have to be between blink-182’s Take Off Your Pants And Jacket, because that’s the album that got me into them, Take This To Your Grave by Fall Out Boy, or New Found Glory’s self-titled album. Everyone knows I’m a massive blink fanboy, but for once I’ll take Fall Out Boy. I think it’s just really, really underrated. It has some of their best songs on it, by far, and there’s a lot in that album that modern pop-punk bands take from. I think it was the beginning of the modern pop-punk sound; it was after that first wave, so it had the elements of that early-2000s sound, but it brought a harder element that we now like to incorporate into our sound.”
Their last salvo before the major-label move that ultimately broke them… Revenge Therapy is a great record by a genius group. Not only that, but, ‘I wrote you a letter / I heard it just upset you’, then, ‘We’re getting older / But we’re acting younger’, are some of the best lyrics ever committed to tape.
At the turn of the mid-’00s, pop-punk began to take a stylistic shift into more melodic, soft-edged territory. The Academy Is… led the way with a clutch of smoothly delivered hooks and deftly conceived melodies. More pop than punk it might be, but once Almost Here gets into your head, it will refuse to budge.
During Screeching Weasel’s career, the sole constant has been Ben Weasel – and that man’s knack for genius, melodic punk rock. This, their ninth album, is one of their very best. Sure, it pokes fun at the burgeoning emo explosion of the day, yet is arguably the band’s own most emotional work.
Starting life as a ska-punk crossover act, Millencolin condensed their sound to a driving, melodic assault on their fourth album (named after their hometown of Örebro, which literally translates to ‘Penny Bridge’). They might not have been pioneers, but they encapsulated the skate-punk scene of the early 2000s.
Prior to Bleed American, emo was less a mainstream-bothering phenomenon and more a minority interest club. Jimmy Eat World changed all that with a magnificent fourth album that blended heart-ripping lyrics with sweeping pop-punk sensibilities, not to mention a genuine smash hit single in The Middle.
Modern pop-punk might have taken its cues from U.S. luminaries like the Ramones and Descendents, but over in Manchester, the Buzzcocks were busy crafting their own mix of ’70s punk and power-pop. Ironically enough, this hit-studded set was originally made to introduce the band to the States.
While his powers have waned, Kris Roe’s skill with three chords and the truth was once second to virtually no-one. The Ataris’ So Long, Astoria is solid-gold evidence of that fact while their cover of Don Henley’s Boys Of Summer remains as good as (dare we say, even better than) the original.
The Movielife’s original incarnation lasted just three albums and six years, but few bands on this list were more influential. Inspired by a near-fatal tour bus crash, this combined hardcore rasp with pop-punk hooks in a way that few others were back in 2003.
The real secret to great pop-punk is taking simple ingredients and drawing brilliant, emotional songs out of them. On Say It Like You Mean It, The Starting Line virtually perfected the trick at the first go and, in Best Of Me, penned one of the genre’s most sing-alongable tunes.
If a debut album which features Mark Hoppus and Joel Madden doesn’t have sufficient pop-punk credentials for you, then at least the combo of Addicted and Perfect makes No Pads… a must-have record for any discerning fan of the genre. A perfect soundtrack to a summer hanging out with friends and laughing until your lungs hurt.
Nostalgia’s not as good as it used to be. In 2001, The Bouncing Souls had already left their teens far behind, but no-one mixed a wistful sense of reminiscence with positivity, optimism and stomping great punk rock anthems quite like this New Jersey mob on their fifth full-length.
Fuelled by Mike Herrera’s irrepressible vocals and some neck-snapping turns of pace, this was the moment that MxPx set their stall out as a force to be reckoned with. Fans of blink-182 and Green Day need only check out the fizzing power-chords of Responsibility to fall for this under-the-radar classic.
A Day To Remember may have carved a bigger career out of heavy pop-punk, but the art of matching irrepressible melodies with rapid-fire chugging was perfected by Four Year Strong on Enemy Of The World. And with stand-out song One Step At A Time detailing the death of singer/guitarist Dan O’Connor’s brother, this hits hard in more ways than one.
How do you reflect on The Other Side now?
Jenna McDougall: “It feels weirdly like reading an old journal or diary entry, y’know. But I’m not ashamed or embarrassed by it, like it is easy to be from things in the past. I think a lot of the album is about growing up, about trying to find yourself in that space between being a kid and an adult.”
A night doing regrettable things on rock-club dancefloors just wouldn’t be the same without BFS’ Girl All The Bad Guys Want. And besides, with all the nu-metal pain of the turn of the century, it was a welcome change to hear the Texas jesters dealing with heartbreak by pondering whether their failure was because ‘All I got’s a moped’.
There’s a fine line between genius and stupidity. And SoCal idiots The Vandals have probably drawn a cock and balls over it. In a world where the pain of grunge still hung around, four overgrown toddlers covering songs from The Sound Of Music was actually very welcome indeed.
One of the most underrated bands of the modern era, Something To Write Home About is The Get Up Kids’ true masterpiece. A 12-track emotional roller coaster taking in everything from searing heartbreak to wild, all-consuming bitterness, we dare you to put this album on and not sing, cry and dance – sometimes all at once.
On first glance, MCS’s third album is a nerdy tribute to Weezer, with talk of Xbox, Miami Vice and Zelda over bright, catchy riffs. But what’s this? Depression, drugs, waking up in hospital on a drip to counteract whatever shit frontman Justin Pierre put in his body. A deceptively sugary spoonful of pain and existential horror.
During the mid-’90s punk explosion, Green Day and The Offspring savoured the commercial success, but Rancid cornered the punk credibility. Taking its title from the major-label feeding frenzy surrounding the band, this was as raw as it was infectious.
What do you remember the most about recording Nothing Personal?
Alex Gaskarth: “We were sort of all over the place. It was a mad rush to make that record. We knew that we had to follow up [previous album] So Wrong, It’s Right, and to raise the bar a little bit. It was the first time that we went in and worked with multiple producers. That was one of the biggest positives. I was still a young, learning songwriter. I didn’t really know shit, so it was the first opportunity that I’d ever had to sit down with these amazing people that I had heard about and looked up to as a writer and a producer, and I was able to pick their brains. It was stressful and hard, but I walked away from that process with a lot of tricks, which I’m very grateful for today.”
Long before blink had pretensions of being a serious band, they were happy to thrash out a song called Dick Lips about being grounded. This was silly, slapdash and distinctly ragged ’round the edges, but their boundless energy and the moderate success of single Dammit set the scene for their subsequent world domination.
There’s a host of bands from the ska-core scene that could gatecrash a list like this, but we might as well give preference to the outfit who came in at year zero: Berkeley, California’s Operation Ivy. Energy was the band’s only studio album, but its legacy is immortal. As well as birthing Rancid, album opener Knowledge is covered live by fellow East Bay boys Green Day to this day.
Before Good Charlotte, there had never been a band quite like Good Charlotte – punk rock tailored for young pop fans. The Maryland four-piece turned a whole generation of kids into Liberty-spiked, eyeliner-wearing rock fanatics. The Anthem was, quite literally, an anthem for The Young And The Hopeless, telling them to Hold On. No pun intended.
The fact Fall Out Boy still close every single show with a Take This To Your Grave track (Saturday) is testament to its brilliance. Inspired by a terrible break-up for Pete Wentz, this 2003 debut is furious, bitter and like no other Fall Out Boy album. It’s the blueprint for both break-up records and timeless pop-punk.
In the years that The Wonder Years have been playing music, they have evolved from a keyboard-playing, in-joke singing, laugh-a-minute easycore outfit into one of the most cerebral, affecting and downright emotional bands working in rock music today.
February 2, 2009, was the day we first heard ADTR nail the sound that made them massive: heavy pop-punk. Homesick’s success is part down to producer Chad Gilbert, who helped the quintet achieve New Found Glory-levels of catchy, but mainly due to Jeremy McKinnon, who’s as at home roaring over a breakdown as he is belting out a heartfelt ballad. It’s pop-punk, but not as we knew it.
The fearless debut of a band that would change the face of pop-punk in the 10 years that have followed since its release. Arguably Paramore’s most truly punk effort to date, gaining it a nod here over 2007’s Riot!, the likes of Pressure and Emergency remain some of the finest jams in the band’s catalogue. Astonishingly impressive stuff for a bunch of small-town teenagers.
Alongside Green Day’s Dookie, Smash was perhaps the most important album in terms of introducing punk to the masses. It sold millions upon millions thanks to singles like Come Out And Play and Self Esteem. Its best moment, though? Nitro (Youth Energy) – a ludicrous song about road rage featuring the immortal insult ‘You stupid dumb shit goddamn MOTHERFUCKER!’ which captured the spirit of early pop-punk perfectly.
See this empty basket? It’s full of the fucks NOFX give – and that’s today, as (un)wise older gentlemen of punk. So, just imagine how obnoxious Fat Mike and co. were in 1994 when this ray of hardcore sunshine belched out of Southern California. Fast, snotty, typically out of tune and sillier than a monkey in a Jacuzzi, Punk In Drublic is NOFX in full sail, tackling racism with the same cynical, piss-taking humour they use to talk about record-label staff wearing Birkenstocks.
For a record that clocks in at just over 22 minutes, and contains gratuitous homophobia (on the song I’m Not A Loser), knuckledragger racism (on Kabuki Girl), as well as a peppering of misogyny throughout, the Californians’ debut is an unlikely pop-punk staple. Yet, after The Ramones, and thanks to a collection of brilliant, snappy songs bursting to the brim with teen spirit (this despite bassist Tom Lombardo being almost 20 years older than his bandmates), Milo Goes To College is probably the most influential pop-punk record of all time. “If the Descendents had made Milo Goes To College in 1999, they’d be living in fucking mansions,” says fan Dave Grohl. “It’s a fucking amazing record…”
What are your favourite memories of making Sticks And Stones?
Jordan Pundik: “It was one of the first records after we’d all moved from Florida. We recorded in San Diego; it was our first time without friends and family around.”
Chad Gilbert: “It was that time when you first leave home, and the record really came from that place in our lives. It truly was the beginning of the rest of our lives.”
Nobody foresaw the Dookie hitting the fan. Yeah, Green Day’s third album was coming out on major label Warner Bros, rather than independent punk operation Lookout!. But nobody expected these skinny punks to actually do anything. Yet armed with one of the biggest rock songs of the ’90s (Basket Case), a track about wanking (Longview) and enough raw, snotty simplicity to enrapture a world still shaking from the grunge explosion, they went on to sell 16 million copies of this pop-punk staple, making three dorks one of the most important bands ever.
Congrats, Mark! Enema Of The State is officially the greatest pop-punk album ever! how does that make you feel?
Mark Hoppus: “I’m incredibly excited to be at number one and have recorded an album that is held in such regard! It makes me very proud and happy and humbled all at the same time, really. There are so many great records out there in the genre that it feels almost surreal that people think something my band did is the best of that!”
Hear State Champs’ cover of blink-182’s pop-punk classic What’s My Age Again?
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