Op-Ed: Punk Rock Was Never Meant To Be Cool
The Noise is Ones to Watch's home for all things punk, hardcore, metal, emo, you name it.
Punk rock music, and subsequently the alternative genre as a whole, was created as an outlet to escape popular trends like Top 40 radio. So, what happens when one of punk's biggest stars shines brighter than the genre itself and finds himself smack dab in the middle of the limelight?
Let's paint a picture for you: The year is 2022 and the so-called "Prince" of pop-punk is engaged to a movie star and selling tickets to an arena tour. Upcoming artists in the scene have over 30 million followers on a trendy dancing app, emo DJs are performing at Coachella, and an influential godfather of the scene is set to marry a Kardashian. Sounds like pop-punk has never been cooler and yet, that's exactly what people think is wrong with it.
What are you supposed to do when both the quiet emo kid and the outspoken influencer obsess over the same My Chem lyrics? Is that really a bad thing? The more the merrier, right? Apparently not.
See, pop-punk has found itself at a coolness crossroads: Do bands and their fans trade in their DIY ethos to become flavor-of-the-week trailblazers? Basically, to put it bluntly: Are you team rapper-turned-rocker Machine Gun Kelly or team traditional punk rock? And, on top of that, are you allowed to be both?
Technically, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. However, in a scene that has fought so hard for relevancy over the years, how do you justify a genre being taken over by LA fashionistas now that its music is "hip" again?
If you ask Twitter, there are endless opinions on the matter. "Screw MGK, he's a poser," shares @PunkRawkDad420. "Gatekeeping music is so weird," @EmoLolzz responds. So what is the correct take here?
We're starting to realize we are asking more questions than answering at this point, but that's what's so fascinating about this debate. Should punk rock music exist on the main stage of popularity? Or, should it only be for those who truly relate to it?
That question we think should be left up to you, the listener. If you want to support mainstream, major label artists like Machine Gun Kelly, we won't stop you. Hell, he's taking Avril Lavigne out on tour, so hard to knock him there.
We just ask, while you're singing along to Willow's verse in "Emo Girl" or hearing "My Ex's Best Friend" on the radio for the 200th time, don't forget about the bands who grind it out every day just to break even. You know, the bands who sleep in their vans on tour, sell merch for gas money, and have worked tirelessly to keep the pop-punk community afloat before it was injected with popularity again.
We're not asking you to memorize every Ramones, Pennywise, New Found Glory or State Champs lyric. It's just, if Machine Gun Kelly can top the Billboard charts and sell out arenas, why can't other deserving bands benefit too?
And for those elder statesmen who want to bash on MGK, just give it a rest won't you? Yes, he's done annoying things. Yes, he talked shit about Slipknot. We get it. But here's the good news: If you don't like it, you don't need to listen to it. Let the people who enjoy it, enjoy it and move on. Find something else to put that negative energy into like mowing your lawn or yelling at clouds – or better yet, start your own pop-punk band.
In the end, the debate on the coolness of punk rock and how it should (or shouldn't) be properly distributed throughout pop-culture will always be a topic for years on end. However, the important take away here is that punk rock continues to exists after all this time and we think that's what matters the most.