In recent time’s Pop Punk has come again into the light of mainstream attention as it did when bands like Yellowcard, Blink-182, Good Charlotte, and All American Rejects were played constantly on the radio or the soundtracks of movies. History repeats itself constantly, so really it should be no surprise that it has once again caught on – at least for the moment.
I have no issue with this. Like I said it’s not the first time and really it’s a way for kids to discover things. Not to mention some of what has arisen from the current spotlight has been pretty decent. That being said, the mainstream lane right now is not at all what is happening within the genre. The only way I can describe it is that no matter how many different eras/styles there are to choose from – neon, skate, sad boi, etc – they only ever go for the same thing. Nostalgia, let’s revise the sound of what mainstream Pop Punk used to be. It’s always the same thing with a new face and a hint of contemporary to make it “now”. And to be honest I get it. It’s smart, who doesn’t fall for nostalgia? But really that whole lane is completely separate to the current state of the genre. The way popular culture picks things up is not to be a part of what the current wave is doing, from what is actually happening.
For a while Pop Punk from the 2010’s hit a rut, even me who adores this genre won’t hesitate to say so. It becomes, like most genres do, over-saturated with copies and personations. So with that being said, nothing within the genre really was interesting for a while.
At least, I think so, until now.
The new wave that has been appearing for a moment has been encpatualising. It has not completely moved from the ‘Sad Boi’ tumblr style, but it is totally switched up. I think after that massive hit of Emo Rap we had, bands have started to adapt to this way of not sticking to one thing anymore. In my opinion it’s great, amazing even. Especially when everyone has different ways of incorporating multiple things. Not to mention the features! The 2010’s era was full of features from other artists, bands, from the genre and it was great for sure. But now? I don’t think I’ve encountered as many slight rap crossovers as this new wave has been bringing. And no, I’m not talking about MGk’s album, I mean the artists who are separate from the spotlight.
Part of the reason why I wanted to write this was to share some really great artists who are being overshadowed by mainstream popular culture though. Of course someone within that is going to be a more prominent result when searching new wave Pop Punk than a band with a single EP.
SO, THE ARTISTS?
If I’m being completely frank right now, this isn’t a long list. This is partly because I have hardly been engaging with the Pop Punk scene for a while, just glimpses here and there. Not because I don’t love it, not because I hate it, but simply because I enjoy so many different types of music that it just hasn’t been my main focus right now. That’s okay though, and it leaves room for me to make an updated list in the future, but for now here are a few artists you should be paying attention to.
I discovered Magnolia Park from tiktok of all places. I was just aimlessly scrolling, as we all don’t lie, when a snipped for one of their songs and the band came up. Paired with ‘can we be your new favourite Pop Punk band?” text I stopped to pay attention. It was great marketing, I’m not gonna lie. Hell, these kids didn’t even have a single EP when I found them, yet I was actually interested.
They sounded like a mix of classic upbeat Pop Punk with this newer level of production and mixing that would have been labeled as ‘fake auto-tune bullshit’ from those types of fans. To be honest, this whole new era probably is labeled just like that to them.
I would also like to point out that Pop Punk for the longest time, and taking a look at the mainstream counterpart right now, is very white. Really, most of who you’ll encounter are just pretty white boy’s, and while that was kind of the ‘midwest, angry, white guy’ frontman was a thing for a while, it’s kind of fucked. Magnolia Park features more than one, and not ‘just thrown in there’, POC unlike most in the genre. Actually, it was part of the reason they caught my eye.
Magnolia Park is a five piece pop punk/alternative rock band from Orlando, Florida. The band blends elements of hip hop, pop punk and Emo rock to create a captivating sound and haunting aesthetic. Their music is produced by legendary alternative rock/pop punk producer Andrew Wade of The Audio Compound, who has worked with bands like A Day To Remember, Neck Deep, Wage War, Real Friends, and more.Magnoliaparkband.com
As smaller artists they’ve done quite a bit of collabs and brought people to feature on tracks. This is a really smart thing. For example, ‘TDH2S’ from their ‘Dream Eater’ EP feature’s Oliver Baxxter, the vocalist for Broadside. While Broadside isn’t a name like The Story So Far or Neck Deep, their existing presence within Pop Punk is there. Along with that, ‘Back on My Bullshit’ which was a popular single before the release of the EP, features iamjakehill. Both of these and others, especially with the appearance of popular emo boy Kellin Quinn, have enabled the band to engage with multiple different audiences before even an album.
To me, Magnolia Park really encaptualates what modern Pop Punk is and needs to be. It’s so interesting and different from where we just were in the genre, and I honestly just adore them. I can’t recomend them enough.
I think Point North has been around for a little bit, and to be honest I still don’t really hear many talk about them. It could be due to the fact that they’ve always had this new wave style to some extent a part of their music, and like I said before, people don’t ‘like that’. I first heard Point North because of Spotify – thank you Spotify so much – all from their cover of Nothing, Nowhere’s ‘Hammer’. It’s nothing like the original, it’s fast and loud and high energy. Honestly, I would describe most of their music like that. I love Nothing, Nowhere but that cover tops the original by far.
Point North have two albums, ‘A Light in a Dark Place’ (2018), and ‘Brand New Vision’ (2020). Both of these, to me, really express the type of stylistic choice Pop Punk is having currently. Their 2021 singles, especially ‘Nice Now’, are bright, loud and evocative, something that has always stood out to me with them.
Though most of their stuff goes back to 2018, a moment when the 2010’s had kind of a stand still in defined sound, I think they’re gonna thrive with where this genre is headed. You can already feel it with the release of their second album mid 2020, and now with a new single every few months. They’re picking up this fire momentum, something I think will get them far. Like Magnolia Park, Point North has had a feature from the infamous Kellin Quinn, who from the looks of things really enjoys getting involved with smaller artists.
Meet Me @ The Altar
As I mentioned above, Pop Punk always had a white dominating scene, and along with that male. I know you’re probably sitting there like ‘but hey Paramore!’ and you’re right, sure. However, the amount of discourse over Paramore being simply just a Pop band was everywhere in the 2000’s and 2010’s. It really wasn’t about the music, it was just about the fact Hayley Williams is female. Not to mention, Tonight Alive and Against The Current are both female fronted bands that never got anything as much as others based simply on gender. There’s this stereotype of ‘Misogynistic Pop Punk’, lyrically and community wise, and for the longest time it completely was.
I say all this because one of the incredible driving factors of this new wave is the diversity in race and gender. And Meet Me @ The Altar is making impacts in changing how the scene has been for the better.
Once again I did find their music through TikTok, which is proving to be a solid platform for music artists. Honestly, I didn’t come across them themselves, I saw many different people talking about them instead. The thing with this genre is that it is incredibly closed off, or used to be, and so many fans still want that for it. Which is why when you hear a lot of people talking about the same artist, especially newer, they’re usually really good. And boy, are Meet Me @ The Altar is.
An exhilarating blast of sticky-sweet vocals, fluttery electric riffs, and a dangerously catchy chorus (“Your flowers will finally grow!”), it’s all but guaranteed to have you longing for the days of black eyeliner and studded belts.rollingstone
Meet Me @ The Altar is really moving this genre forward at such a fast pace, and I do wholeheartedly put a lot of the new transitions that are happening to them. Their song ‘Hit Like A Girl’ is completely an anthem for me. It’s something I wish younger me could sing along to rather than ‘Do you look yourself, straight in the eyes and think about who you let between your thighs?’. It’s been time for change for a while, and it’s here finally. If you should pay attention to anyone on this list, if anyone I have mentioned is going to make massive headways, it is them and you should really, really check them out.
Honourable Mention – Lil Lotus
Okay, I know this might get me disliked by some people. Which is fine, I don’t really care if you’re gonna disagree about this.
I mentioned before how the Emo Rap movement that we had in the 2010’s really aided in some newer influence, to bring things together in production and out stepping genre boxes. However, that goes both ways. There are so many artists within that scene, or even those who’ve transitioned from musician to producer, who came from Pop Punk influence. You’ll be surprised with how many Sad Boi Pop Punk era songs have been sampled. Even Lil Peep songs, if you want me to go there.
The point? Influence isn’t a one way street, and while Lil Lotus is commonly more associated with emo rap, he isn’t remotely a simply artist like that. His latest album, ‘Errør Bøy’, is honestly more fitting with bands like Magnolia Park than rap – while still so distinctively being both. Actually, Lil Lotus is touring with Magnolia Park as an open for him, so there you go. That sounded aggressive, but I guess I’m tired of the genre box. ‘Romantic Disaster’ off the album actually features Chrissy Costanza, from Against The Current if you remember them from what I said before.
Change is on it’s way, it’s been meaning to happen, and I really think now is the time to stop thinking you can only listen to one thing to really be a fan. Lil Lotus isn’t just a Rap type artist, he isn’t so simply placed like that. I think if you’re really into keeping up with the way the scene is growing, you need to acknowledge that genres can influence each other. That artists are going to influence each other, and that’s a great thing, not something to hate on.