There’s a stigma attached to Pop Punk as a genre, and it gets right on my nerves.
For some reason, unbeknown to myself, I find you’re often looked down upon for enjoying the music of bands that fall into this bizarre genre, which finds itself in a strange sort of limbo stuck between commercial recognition and solid punk rock. It’s almost as if liking a guitar band that makes fun, relatable songs for misfit teenagers is taboo.
To those people, I say screw that. Pop Punk is a genre that doesn’t take itself or anyone else too seriously. It can be anything it wants to be, as long as it has some kick ass guitar, a recognisable hook and a message that teenagers and young adults worldwide will relate to.
So when it comes to Pop Punk, there’s surely got to be a defining sound – that one band that defined the era and became a catalyst, prompting thousands of youngsters to pick up a guitar or a pair of drumsticks and create music that was furious, imperfect and great fun to play.
In order to explore this, let’s journey back over two decades.
The year is 1992. The Eighties were long behind us, and by us I mean you, as I was not yet born. In San Diego, California a young Thomas Delonge (high school drop-out) was introduced to Mark Hoppus (college drop-out) through a friend and the two began to create music fuelled on punk influences, adolescence and a shared passion for toilet humour. Original drummer for the band Scott Raynor was later introduced into the equation and thus, a band named Blink was born.
Of course, you’ll know them better as blink-182. The band were threatened with a lawsuit by Irish band Blink in 1995, meaning the mystery suffix ‘-182’ was added and nineteen years later, they exist in spite of a rocky history as godfathers to the Pop Punk genre. Cited by many current bands as the reason they became musicians, blink-182 are gods. So without further ado, here’s an explanation as to why I adore this endearing trio.
I first became aware of blink-182 when I was probably about 13 years old. I mean, of course we’d all heard ‘All The Small Things’ on the radio, and we probably all knew it was by that band who pretend to be the Backstreet Boys in the video and blah blah blah. When I say aware, I mean really aware. I was midway through my greb awakening and Pop Punk was my elixir. By purchasing their Greatest Hits compilation, I was vastly unaware at the time of how blink-182 would change my life – all I knew then was how incredibly fucking good they were.
Without becoming too emotional, blink-182 wrote songs that kids like you and I could listen to and really feel like we were understood. Songs about lust, sexuality, anxiety, fun, pain, broken homes, fucking up, growing up, feeling down… and those were just the singles. Once you delved a little deeper into the catalogue of blink-182’s work, you became aware of their sense of humour and sick imagination, which is equally as important for a band like blink-182 as the emotional stuff.
One of the greatest things about blink-182 is the fact that they have a song for every mood. Feel like listening to a sad song? Look no further than ‘I Miss You’. Love song? Gotta be ‘Always’. Hilariously inappropriate? If you haven’t heard ‘Depends’, then you’re sadly missing out.
If you want an example of the range blink-182 have in their song writing, then look no further than album ‘Enema of the State’, possibly their biggest commercial success to date. Contrasting in the thick of this album are songs like ‘Aliens Exist’, which clearly touch on alien abduction and the result of such an event:
“Up all night long / And there’s something very wrong / And I know it must be late / Been gone since yesterday / I’m not like you guys / I’m not like you”
Compare that to the tale of ‘Adam’s Song’, written in honour of a fan who committed suicide and it’s almost like two entirely different bands:
“I never thought I’d die alone / Another six months I’ll be unknown / Give all my things to all my friends / You’ll never step foot in my room again”
But, there lies the beauty of blink. While managing to stay young at heart and act like a bunch of stupid, horny teenagers deep into their 30s, blink-182 has this unique ability to capture the hearts, minds and funny bones of millions. Their singles are radio friendly and infectious, saving the more inappropriate for album tracks. And as they grew up, so too did their music.
Listening to their debut album ‘Cheshire Cat’ is always a joy. It’s hilarious and utterly shit, but it’s where blink-182 came from and to see how they’ve progressed over the past 20 years is astounding. Their latest release, the ‘Dogs Eating Dogs’ EP released in late 2012 demonstrated a level of maturity that we came to know and love from the pre-hiatus days when they released arguably their best album, ‘blink-182’.
Their self-titled album was heavy, heart wrenching and emotional. The fast paced, full frontal punk album said goodbye to an era of dick jokes and exposed us to the darker, broodier element of Pop Punk. It was perfection: the single greatest Pop Punk album of all time. And what followed was heartbreak for fans, as blink-182 called an indefinite hiatus which lasted 4 long years. Mended after long term drummer Travis Barker was involved in a serious plane crash, I feel that enough time has passed now that the less said on the split, the better. So let’s move swiftly along.
I adore the members of blink-182 with a fierceness that I don’t find I get with many bands. The chemistry and ease you see between Tom, Mark and Travis is a unique one, and it’s one that means albums like their live effort ‘The Mark, Tom and Travis Show’ wouldn’t have been half as good without it. Mark and Tom have an unspoken connection that oozes mutual respect and homo-erotic love – it’s not one they’re afraid to show either.
So far, I’ve only stated what blink-182 are. I feel I should now briefly state what blink-182 are to me, otherwise this article would be quite redundant. Blink-182 to me means youth. It means having fun, fucking about, being immature, enduring loss and pain and heartbreak but coming out the other side with a smile on your face and a lesson learned. I have them to thank for great memories, a handful of friends and my long-term boyfriend who, without blink-182, never would have noticed me, sat with me at a party, shared a cigarette with me and played ‘Not Now’ to me on the acoustic guitar.
I’ve seen them once on their reunion tour and I’ll be seeing them again at their Reading & Leeds warm up show at Brixton Academy. I’d see them a million times more if I could. Soon after (I hope), blink-182 will be hard at work in the studio, bringing us some new material that one can only hope will show us a glimpse of what blink-182 brought us from the self-titled days.
I owe blink-182 a lot, but they owe me nothing. If they decide one day in the future that this is it – the end – then I won’t be bitter or angry or confused. I’ll be thankful for the 20+ years of hilarity and empathy they’ve given me through their songs, their attitudes and their lives. And that, readers, is just the tip of the iceberg on why I love the glorious blink-182.