Gen-z are obsessing over this new, softer, pop-punk revival – but who are its key players?
I grew up screaming to Avril Lavigne’s catchy punk-pop, thanks to a pirated CD I got as a gift on my 9th birthday. It was long before Spotify, or any kind of music-sharing platform was around, which meant I listened to the CD on repeat, partly because it was good, partly because I had no other option. It was Avril Lavigne or nothing. But somewhere down the line, listening to punkier pop anthems became “uncool”, and my emo days morphed into sad indie and Lana del Rey. And, just like myself, many other self-proclaimed emo kids ditched their eyeliner for things like the hipster flannels and brown (not black, that’s too emo), doc Martens.
Now, as I browse TikTok and make my way down the charts, it seems like we’re facing a revival. Whilst the more hardcore elements of its origins have faded down, TikTok has opened the door to an entirely new scene, mainly female dominated, which is blending teen angst with Y2K aesthetics and sounds. Singing about hurtful love, disappointment and bottled up rage, here are some of the key players of this punk-pop renaissance.
If punk-pop is facing a revival, then Olivia Rodrigo is its pioneering force. Good 4 U was arguably the first punk anthem making it back to the charts, receiving countless prize nominations. Rodrigo’s raw energy and relatable lyrics in “Good 4 U” have helped redefine the genre for a new generation. Her influence extends beyond this single hit, as her entire album ‘SOUR’ echoes the sentiments of a renewed punk-pop spirit, blending emotional vulnerability with a rebellious edge that has captivated both old fans of the genre and new listeners alike.
The Liverpool band The Crawlers, although active since 2018, made it big in 2021 thanks to a key music distributor for the younger generations; TikTok. Their song “Come Over Again” made it to the British charts and has the band developing a cult-like following. Their latest release feels very punk even in its topic; a story about an abuse relationship disguised as a love story.
Whilst arguably not the punkest of the list, Abby Roberts also leans to the rebellious nature so akin to the genre. Abby Roberts, initially famed for her TikTok makeup artistry with over 17 million followers, has seamlessly transitioned into the music scene. Encouraged by the pandemic’s creative pause, she delved into songwriting and guitar, culminating in tracks like “Paramaniac” and “Pink Champagne” that reflect her indie-pop sensibilities. Influenced by artists like Lana Del Rey and Arctic Monkeys, Abby’s music echoes her artistic versatility, blending a deep, lyrical focus with laid-back vibes, marking her unique footprint in the evolving punk-pop landscape.
Edging more towards the goth-pop spectrum, Pale Waves makes me reminisce of Paramore days. Completely with drums, screaming anger and a polished-up 2023 version of goth, the band is full of lesbian anthems, songs about mental health and hopelessness. How very punk.
Despite its comeback, punk has infiltrated the mainstream music scene, not overtaken it. Even the so-called pop-punk artists making headlines play an arguably tamer sound, relying more heavily on pop than they dob on punk.
Either way, my Avril Lavigne obsessed teen-self is pleased.