10 Best Pop-Punk Songs
The punk sub-genre known as pop-punk — a fusion of bubblegum melodies, upbeat tempos and cranked guitars — traces its roots back to the very album that started punk itself: the Ramones’ 1976 self-titled debut. The album influenced numerous related strains of rock, but its impact on pop-punk is especially undeniable. It helped spawn a long line of related bands from fellow ’70s acts like the Undertones and the Buzzcocks all the way through to ’90s groups like Blink-182 and Green Day and beyond. So, which tunes land on our list of the 10 Best Pop-Punk Songs of all time? Read on…
‘F— the World’
“We only liked two punk bands: the Ramones and Black Flag,” reads a famous quote from the Queers, and one listen to this tune confirms it. Originally listed as ‘F— This World’ on the ‘Love Songs for the Retarded’ track listing, ‘F— the World’ (as it’s now known) mixes the Ramones’ bubblegum melodies with Flag’s snide nihilist streak, and the results are nothing short of classic.
‘What Do I Get?’
Coming out of England in the mid-’70s, the Buzzcocks’ impact on pop-punk is undeniable — especially ‘What Do I Get?’ which shows off the band’s talent for pop nuggets and managed to reach the Top 40 on the U.K. charts.
MxPx effortlessly churn out songs that stick in your head, and ‘Chick Magnet,’ off the band’s 1996’s ‘Life in General,’ is one of their stickiest. The track opens with a line (“Dude, you a mad chick magnet”) sampled from the movie ‘Mallrats,’ and the accompanying video has drummer Yuri Ruley star as said “chick magnet” while frontman Mike Herrera sings along.
Following in the footsteps of fellow ’90s pop-punk icons like Green Day, Blink-182 scored their first alt-rock hit with the ditty ‘Dammit’ off their ‘Dude Ranch’ album. Other tunes charted higher as the years went on, but ‘Dammit’ catches Blink at both their most punky and poppy.
Midwest punkers Screeching Weasel pretty much nailed down the feeling of suburban slacker apathy with the call-out ‘Hey Suburbia,’ which featured lyrics like “We’re gonna slam dance on your grave/ Cause we don’t give a s— about tomorrow.”
‘Need You Around’
The Smoking Popes scored their biggest-selling album, ‘Born to Quit,’ in 1994 thanks to the minor MTV hit ‘Need You Around,’ which pairs singer Josh Caterer’s smooth, Morrissey-like baritone with the band’s penchant for irresistible pop hooks.
‘Punk Rock Girl’
Philadelphia punk outfit the Dead Milkmen play a loud, fast and satire-soaked brand of catchy punk rock, and none of their tunes were catchier than ‘Punk Rock Girl.’ With its purposefully half-assed playing and enduring lyrics about punk-rock romance, the novelty track became a surprise MTV hit upon its release in 1988 and remains a fan favorite to this day.
‘Here Comes the Summer’
Another one of the original pop-punk bands, the Undertones hail from Ireland and have been rocking for more than three decades. Eventually, they embraced such diverse sounds as glam rock, post-punk and even Motown, but early tunes like ‘Here Comes the Summer’ were short, sweet and about as straight-up poppy and punky as you could get.
Green Day shifted the gears of the alternative nation from grunge to punk with their surprise breakthrough album, ‘Dookie,’ in 1994, and ‘Basket Case’ was the disc’s biggest — and most infectious — hit. Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong and they boys have since carved out an enormously successful career, but it was ‘Dookie’ that first put them on the map.
Hey ho, let’s go! It doesn’t get much better than the Ramones, the band that pretty much invented both punk rock and the sub-genre of pop-punk with its 1976 debut album, ‘Ramones.’ Neither the album nor its first single, ‘Blitzkrieg Bop,’ found much mainstream success upon release, but the lasting influence of both cannot be overestimated, which is why it lands at No. 1 on our tally.