Defriend Pop Punk

This elephant has been standing in the room for long enough, so we might as well take a deep breath and acknowledge it: pop punk will most likely be all but dead in another 1.5 to 2 years. Like a venerable family pet still perky but advanced in its age, all we can do is enjoy the time we have left with it while bracing for the fact that someday in the not so distant future, we will have to say goodbye (although it will live in our hearts forever).  The signs are all there: The Wonder Years won’t even acknowledge “I’m not sad anymore” in their setlists, Man Overboard’s popularity seems to be in steady decline now that everyone has had their “Defend Pop Punk” shirts for a few years and the novelty (and shirt color) has faded, and when we take an honest look at the two bands who have ascended to popularity since pop punk’s glory days in the early 2010s – The Story So Far and Real Friends – we see that neither of these bands really even play pop punk; the former is essentially a (fantastic) melodic hardcore band, and the latter is an emo band (albeit one with aims more in line with Jimmy Eat World than Mineral). So amidst “artistic growth and maturity”, fan indifference, and different sounds capturing the imagination of The Kids, this leaves one question that I’m sure is on everyone’s minds: if pop punk truly is leaning on its last legs, what comes next?

I believe the solo projects of two of modern day pop punk’s biggest luminaries will give us a glimpse of what will come once pop punk’s proverbial last slice of pizza has been eaten, and all that remains is a little bit of crust (with a few choice spots of cheese that were somehow overlooked). And if their radically divergent sounds indicate anything, it’s that we can expect a struggle between darkness and light easily on scale with anything John Milton wrote about in Paradise Lost

First off, we have Aaron West And The Roaring Twenties, which is the solo project of Dan “Soupy” Campbell of The Wonder Years. Self described as “a character study through music by The Wonder Years’ frontman”, this sappy foray into the world of self-serving Americana paints a grim future for a post-pop punk world: Lots of acoustic guitars, ‘singer songwriter’ worship (it wasn’t cute when Bright Eyes made the jump, and it doesn’t sound any better now), and…horns. To tell you the truth, I had instantly made up my mind that I was going to hate this the moment I heard the dorky pseudo-nostalgia name of the project, but somehow this managed to fail even my already very low expectations. As with any “post” genre (ie: post punk, post rock, post hardcore), some of the elements of the original genre remain intact, but only as a mere suggestion of lineage. Meanwhile the bands who participate in the said “post genres” subsequently do their best to show the world how ‘mature’ they have become by making very transparent, forced attempts within their music to show how they have moved past the kind of ‘obvious kid’s stuff’ that made people pay attention to them in the first place. In Soupy’s case, this apparently means insisting on a Chris Gaines-esque alter ego (which, because he is an artist of remarkable depth and range, he will insist is not himself), shoving in brass instruments where no brass instruments need exist (ie: anywhere within the milieu of western music past the 1930s), and showing the public how musically sensitive he is the best way any coddled white person knows how: by ‘going acoustic’. Of course, this development shouldn’t really be surprising to anyone, but it is still a little sad seeing it come to fruition.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum comes Farpoint, the solo project of Man Overboard’s Zac Eisenstein (previously discussed on SYWH here). While Soupy has gone down the road all too common for aging sensitive punk artists (see also: Kevin Seconds) with his Tom Waits/Billy Bragg songwriter worship, Zac is offering us a glimmer of neon hope in what may possibly be the first Myspace pop revival release ever. Whereas the prevailing trend amongst pop punk bands has been to become more and more stridently ‘tr00’ (until finally the genre collapses into a singularity of forced “genuineness” and pseudo nostalgia that ceases to really bare any actual resemblance to pop punk), Eisenberg instead chooses to invoke a style that harkens back to a past era which he actually remembers, writing in one of the least tr00 genres of music imaginable. And while ex-scene-turned tr00 pop punk kids will and have already maligned this project as phony sell out bullshit, one has to give Eisenstein credit: While he does go with the prevailing trend of tr00ness by using nostalgia as jumping point for his newest musical ventures, he also defiantly goes against the grain by refusing to romanticize a period of time he himself did not live through. It’s a breath of fresh air for someone of prominence within pop punk to finally admit that the Myspace era was fun to live through, and there is nothing wrong with fondly remembering it with your music.

This image is a metaphor for primary underlying struggle that will define the post pop punk musical landscape.

So, just like the tension between easycore and tr00 pop punk in the late 2000s/early 2010s, we will have a similar tug-of-war for The Youth’s imagination in a post pop punk world as well. Except this time, rather than simply being srs vs. zany or breakdowns vs. no breakdowns, the stylistic gulf will be wider, and the ideological gap will be harder to bridge. Because while the first round of modern pop punk had roots in the same music but more or less disagreed on the packaging, in a post pop punk world, everyone agrees that there is ‘more to life’ than just playing pop punk, and all post-pop punk is fueled by nostalgia, but the question comes down to which version of nostalgia you believe in. Is your music driven by a romanticized version of the past you never lived through, or do you channel genuine nostalgia for a bygone era you actually participated in (in Farpoint’s case, an era in which Hellogoodbye wasn’t a boring indie rock band)? Expect to see this question play out in a variety of strange and cringey ways in the coming years following the decline of modern pop punk. Just strap in and prepare for a bumpy ride, because while the prospect of neo-neon pop is promising, the ‘artistic maturity’ that will spew forth in the coming years from bands ‘growing’ away from tr00 pop punk will likely make Citizen’s “Youth” album look like Armed With Crayons.

Discussion: What do you think post pop punk will look and sound like? Is the end of pop punk as we know it near (be honest with yourself)? Does The Story So Far’s parody of a Leonard Cohen album cover for their new EP make you nervous for the future? Will Hellogoodbye be the Jimmy Eat World of 2018? Which bands will survive The End Of Pop Punk, and what will be left of them?

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69 Responses to THE END OF POP PUNK

  1. Pl says:

    Very fun read 👌

  2. ADAM says:

    damn that farpoint song sounds exactly like golden-era hellogoodbye

  3. Save Parker says:

    great post Bronson man. I still feel like there is hope that post-pop-punk can be something entirely new, instead of just a choice of one kind of nostalgia, but your scenario seems far more likely because most people in this genre are pretty bankrupt creatively. Pop punk version wahtever.0 would have to blend some of the common elements with something totally new, and unless a pop punk Attack Attack comes along and changes the game, we should have a lot of both of these. Or combos where they try to make myspace pop sound sincere and I cringe to death :(

    • Bronson says:

      Thanks, dude! To clarify, I don’t think pop punk will completely disappear within in the next couple of years – there are most likely to be a couple hanger-ons who will limp on until they get exasperated with fan difference, and then ultimately break up. There is hope of pop punk being reborn anew down the road, but I agree that for that to happen, the sound will have to have some sort of very unique element that The Kids can easily latch onto, and unfortunately it will take until tr00 completely cycles out of coolness for that to be possible.

  4. Save Parker says:

    Also I just posted this on the forums, but it is proof that pop punk kids are fed up with Real Friends bullshit and neon might be coming back harder and sooner than previously thought. Straight from

    • uppercut613 says:

      despite making fun of them on this site, i love real friends, but seeing those comments srsly made me happy and excited. a neon revival is not that unlikely.

  5. Alex says:

    I cant even keep up anymore. Kids these days change their trends way too fast. I guess its time to
    just yell at the local high school students from my porch while easycore records spin on my gramophone.

  6. nu⚡⚡tej says:


  7. postcore says:

    this one made me sad because pop punk is the one goofy subgenre i genuinely hoped would stay (even though i knew it would never happen)

  8. WolfxShirts says:

    The tr00 movement’s first reported casualty

  9. wlfblnkt says:

    Would like to see trÖÖ-metal, which worships Deftones, Limp Bizkit, Coal Chamer, and JNCOs with chained up wallets.

    I know we’re kinda in a nu-metal revival as it is, but I’d like it to gain more steam so I can talk with Kids These Days(tm) about how Freak On a Leash was the first to correctly incorporate 7+ string guitars and bass drops.

    • this guy has the comments says:

      literally saw two hardcores on my facebook feed today talking about how deftones and coal chamber are tr00 as fuck. not sure i want to live in that world.

  10. wlfblnkt says:


  11. Tony says:

    Mostly stoked that Armed With Crayons made it into a post in 2014

  12. uppercut613 says:

    A+ post bronson. I definitely see this era of pop punk coming to an end soon, as all good things do. I don’t know if it’s just me but one thing I’ve noticed is that musical trends come and go way quicker nowadays but maybe that’s just due to me getting old and time going by faster :( I could def see all the big pop punk bands going full soft grunge/tr00 emo for their new releases except for neck deep, who essentially released an early 2000′s style pop punk album in 2014, which is pretty ballsy now that i think of it. the young me never would’ve envisioned a time when playing mallpunk would be edgy and against the grain.

    • Bronson says:

      Thanks, sir! As Brett Michaels once sang, “you don’t know what you got ’till it’s gone”. I took tr00 pop punk for granted for some years because I felt like it was ruining a scene once dominated by easycore. But I grew to love it, and now I’m sad to see that it is on it’s way to the check out line.


      • uppercut613 says:

        I took tr00 pop punk for granted for some years because I felt like it was ruining a scene once dominated by easycore. But I grew to love it, and now I’m sad to see that it is on it’s way to the check out line.

        exact same story here haha. kinda thinks that im not giving soft grunge a proper chance and that maybe i would even get into it. shit, i cant believe i just said that lol

  13. uppercut613 says:

    Just strap in and prepare for a bumpy ride, because while the prospect of neo-neon pop is promising, the ‘artistic maturity’ that will spew forth in the coming years from bands ‘growing’ away from tr00 pop punk will likely make Citizen’s “Youth” album look like Armed With Crayons.

    also this part genuinely scared me cause youth was honestly one of the most boring albums i ever listened to

    • postcore says:

      i saw them open for the wonder years and fireworks on that tour they did earlier this year and they were just as dull live as on record which is quite a feat imo \:

  14. molemanfannumber1 says:

    Guess I’ll just have to keep listening to those 3 #ezcrab bands and their Russian rip-offs, and cry myself to sleep.

  15. BenYaBoy says:

    Awesome post Bronson. Also I am one of the 3 people that legitimately listen to Turn It Around.

    Regarding to TSSF being more of a melodic hardcore band: I actually played Under Soil And Dirt in the car with my cousins for like 20 mins, and then one went “Can we change the song? I’m kind of getting sick of metal – or whatever this is.”

    I guess as our community here frequently listens to heavier music with harsher vocals, we really do tend to forget that these bands don’t really have pop elements. We just accept the kids’ labels, y’know?

    • TLDR says:

      Truth. People hear what we consider melodic and think “thats just noise, put on beyonce” or whatever lol

      and they’re basically right


    • Bronson says:

      “Awesome post Bronson. Also I am one of the 3 people that legitimately listen to Turn It Around.”

      The other two being myself and my cohost. Thanks for listening though! We’ll be back soon.

      But it is true – TSSF really aren’t pop punk at all – no more than Dag Nasty is pop punk.

  16. BiffBoss says:

    Pop punk has always gone through ups and downs. We’re just approaching the inevitable down from one of the biggest eras in the genre’s history. Just as the time period between blink’s hiatus and ADTR getting huge was abysmal if your band wasn’t named Set Your Goals or Four Year Strong, we’re about to relive that cycle.

  17. BiffBoss says:

    Speaking of which, does anyone remember when SYG and FYS were talked about as if they were the future of REAL pop punk? The irony in that is I saw the two co headline in late 2008, arguably when both were at their peak in popularity, and the openers were The Title and Every Avenue. Two of the most untroo bands at the time.

    • uppercut613 says:

      The Title

      DAMN, rare scene pop act, mirin

      i remember when SYG and FYS were the face of pop punk very clearly. i saw them both headline in summer 2009. show was packed, everyone was stoked. man, both those bands’ relevance plummeted fast… hopefully FYS can bring it back by returning to their old sound but i dont think theyll ever be as popular as they were in the rise or die days

      • this guy has the comments says:

        pretty sure 90% of the reason SYG died in popularity instantly was them releasing quite possibly the most boring pop punk album of all time before calling it quits

        • uppercut613 says:

          yeah, it’s such a common trend for band’s to have a really sick debut and then get progressively worse with each album after that. mutiny is one of the best pop punk albums ever imo and then their second album i only really like a couple songs, like look closer and the fallen… their third album, man i don’t even really remember it that well so that’s prob not a good thing lol but yeh i think i remember it was rly boring

          • BiffBoss says:

            They released two songs a couple years ago from the album they were supposedly working on, and they were damn good. Way better than anything from Burning At Both Ends. But they never mentioned the album again and never announced a hiatus or anything. I have no clue what’s going on there. I saw FYS last year opening for blink and they were amazing live like always and only played one song from that last album. I’m not worrying about them at all.

            • uppercut613 says:

              lol its funny when bands release an album that fans hate and then they just try to act like it never existed. and woah , FYS opened up for blink? i had no idea they had that kind of currency still lol

          • cougar party says:

            Reminds me of the quote, “you have your whole life to write your first album, then you have 2 years to write your next.”

            • BiffBoss says:

              Yeah, when blink did that smaller venue tour last fall, FYS opened a few dates of it.

          • TLDR says:

            IDK man, IMO EZcore bands just got way better than SYG. I saw that bands first show ever in 2004 in Santa Cruz, they don’t count it as their first show because justin from alcatraz was the 2nd vocalist instead of the other guy, but from then on I could never get into the vocals/lyrics. Music was really good tho.

            While in retrospect I respect SYG for laying down the formula for EZ, I can’t imagine listening to them when I have ADTR/City Lights etc.

            Also, one of the most hilarious things about SYG is that they STARTED as a “real hardcore” band and absolutely came from that scene in every possible way. I saw them probably 10-20 times between 2004-2006 on what was pretty much the standard norcal hardcore show bill of the time: Animosity, The Warriors, Set Your Goals, Alcatraz, and then 1-2 other bands ie Terror, Hoods, First Blood, Champion, etc. They were a staple Real Hardcore band in norcal probably up until their first Warped Tour or so, then transitioned and now EZ is untr00. lolol @ hardcore

            • BiffBoss says:

              Yeah, I remember discovering SYG. I went to a local show in like early 07 I want to say to see Title Fight, who were still a blink copycat at the time and are from my town. They were opening for SYG and Driving East, both of whom I discovered that day. SYG was totally appealing to the hardcore kids at the time. Without a doubt.

      • BiffBoss says:

        and I remember when that SYG/FYS summer tour happened. I so wanted to go. My friends who went with me to the winter 08 tour all went and saw it in Jersey. I was broke as hell from Warped and Mayhem Fest and had to stay home. If I remember right, Fireworks and The Swellers were on that tour too. So fucking jealous.

        • BiffBoss says:

          And I just remembered that the 3rd opener at the show I saw was at was this goofy band Energy. They were signed to Bridge Nine and their singer was most blatant Davey Havok wannabe in existence. Hahah such weird times.

          • uppercut613 says:

            yeah. i remember that band opening and kids repped them cause they were REAL hardcore, then everyone moshed to extremely poppy ezcore via FYS , man those were weird times

  18. TLDR says:

    A++++ post Bronson! Loved reading this

    I believe the solo projects of two of modern day pop punk’s biggest luminaries will give us a glimpse of what will come once pop punk’s proverbial last slice of pizza has been eaten, and all that remains is a little bit of crust

    Great metaphor, legit lol’d.

    I have never been THAT enthusiastic about pop punk, I mean I like it but I wouldn’t have any relevant input on its future. You guys would know way more than me.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I give up. Most troo pop punk sucks and is trite bull shit. Im guessing its going more wonder bros 2.0 and pop punk isn’t suppose to sad and boring. Its suppose to be upbeat and fun

  20. Walker says:

    So this is our generation’s version of the late 1990s where all of the punk bands turned into unbelievably dull, mediocre alt rock bands. brb listening to anything except this.

  21. Pixy says:

    It doesn’t matter because ADTR will always reign supreme(srs). Always amazed me how these guys can survive the fall of scenecore, ezcore/crab, neon era to emerge as the biggest band among the youth in recent memories

  22. Pixy says:

    Also how long do you all think the 90s/soft grunge worship will last?

  23. ILuvBr00talBr3akd0wns says:

    Who cares about pop punk? All I care about is the old school deathcore.

  24. JTD says:

    The night is always tr00est before the dawn…

  25. Anon says:

    This article is solid gold. I never thought of Zac’s Myspace pop revival side project as nostalgia for a time he actually remembers. Great observation.

    Here is my advanced theory: The tr00 pop punk will eventually revert back to archaic “fun” genres, such as easycore and possibly even this Myspace pop revival. Then in 5 to 10 years time, the kids will revolt against this “fake” music and there will be a glorious era of early 2000′s tr00 MTF emo, glorifying the likes Silverstein, Hawthrone Heights, The Used and Emery.

  26. s3an0fth3d3ad says:

    its sad to admit but i’ve been feeling the same way. it hurts my heart, its like growing up from childhood to being an adult

    good by fun Q.Q

  27. Andrew says:

    I posted this link on my tumblr and it started a ton of discussion but it turns out everybody I know has a different idea of what pop punk even is. All the Razorcake fanboy types who follow me got SO bent out of shape about this article, it was hilarious.

  28. Emily says:

    i feel like fireworks definitely survived DPP 2010-12 but also their attachment to it was pretty questionable to begin with like their new album didn’t venture a lot but still was great and had a positive response so like how do they fall in it

    • Bronson says:

      I think your assessment is right. Besides their very first couple of releases, in which they sounded like NFG, by the time they started really getting noticed, their sound was only on the periphery of pop punk in the first place. So on one hand, they will probably keep going for a few years staying in consistent form (although I could easily see them going full indie rock as well) – on the other hand, on the other, the fact that they have never really had two feet in any genre camp has probably limited their ability to widely popular during their lifetime as a band.

  29. Roberto says:

    I’m actually pretty stoked to see what the next BIG era of pop punk will hold… we may have to wait 5-10 years for that, though.

  30. Intowhatever says:

    Personally, i don’t agree with a lot of what is written in the article.
    The writer bring up some good points, but i actually enjoy Aaron West, and am not fan of Farpoint.
    I also don’t think that pop-punk will be dead in gone in two years, or even five for that matter, we might see a decline in popularity for a few years, but most likely it will pick up again eventually.
    The whole article is a little bit over the top for my taste honestly, but some good points are brought up.
    I am curious as to what direction pop-punk will take in the next few years

  31. Intowhatever says:

    And yes, i realize i messed up there, sorry, i don’t know what i am doing right now -.-

  32. JW says:

    Pop Punk is a kid’s genre. I don’t know anyone who really enjoys pop as a genre who isn’t under the age of 20. And the thing now is that all the kids who loves TWY, Man O, TSSF when they first started going (like myself) are now in their early twenties and don’t really listen to that stuff anymore, and kids who are just hitting 16/17 are skipping the ‘pop punk’ stage and going straight into the ‘hardcore’ or ‘emo revival’ stage, so fanbases are dwindling. But then Man O are probably a band that are gonna get as big as All Time Low were/are at some point so who knows.

  33. Collin says:

    I really don’t think the genre will completely die or end, just like real hardcore is still alive even though post hardcore exists. People who still love the genre will create pop punk bands, and surely pop punk bands will still exist, even if they’re not as popular as the more well known faces of pop punk like the story so far and man overboard.

  34. TJ says:

    Well written but even if it dies there will still be enough bands out there if you look hard enough to still enjoy within this genre even if they don’t make it as big as some of the above examples. And we still have websites like FUck Yeah Pop Punk and Pop punks not dead to refer to as long as they are still running
    So cheer up :)

  35. Anonymous says:

    I genuinely believe that the next step for the genre will be some sort of crossover between pop punk and the emo revival. Not necessarily a re-hashing of Taking Back Sunday or anything like that but something that blends the instrumental signatures of emo with the song structure and vocal delivery of pop punk.

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