For those of you interested in the pop-punk scene, you likely came across the controversial article posted by Alternative Press on May 5 (click picture for article). The author, Matt Crane, introduces the recent fame of 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS) as “the elephant in the room”. 5SOS are four Australian teenagers who are rapidly making their way to the top of the charts all over the world. What’s different about these boys is that they are being branded as “pop-punk”, in fact their major label is highlighting the fact that they are not a boy band but simply a band. Before signing to a label the boys garnered attention through their YouTube covers of bands like All Time Low, Mayday Parade, and A Day to Remember, whom they also site as major influences. Despite this, their poppy songs and close ties to One Direction haven’t exactly found them favor in the pop-punk scene. Crane argues that even if you don’t like 5SOS, you have to acknowledge that they hold the potential to bring pop-punk back into the mainstream, in the way that bands like Blink-182 and Good Charlotte once did.
It’s no surprise that making these statements garnered a lot of response from the online community. There are the negative ones, like one FaceBook user who says “anybody who calls that pop punk shouldn’t be writing about music”. Another FaceBook comment says “this isn’t pop punk at all. just because its a bunch of guys playing instruments doesnt make it pop punk. cue boys in skinny jeans and nice hair singing generic girly songs isn’t pop punk, its mainstream bullis**t”. There are others who are totally open to the possibility of pop-punk being back in the mainstream, but are worried about a loss of quality if the music becomes mainstream.
While many of the comments are about the actual topic, being whether or not 5SOS could bring pop-punk back to the mainstream, many many many more are about whether or not 5SOS are even pop-punk. For this topic, I think we need to take it back to the core of what punk is. Punk was created on ideas of anti-establishment, freedom, individualism, free thought, and non-conformity. Punk is bigger than a sound, or a style, it’s about being yourself and doing whatever you want and caring less about what people think about it. Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump said it best when he tweeted “Putting boundaries on how punk should sound/look is the least punk rock thing one can do. Be yourself=Very punk.” Any peek into the private lives of the 5SOS boys (and they give us a lot of them) can show them doing things like playing on stage in Will Smith masks, reenacting the lion king, and announcing singles with their pants down and sombreros over their crotch. It is safe to say that nothing has changed about these boys since they came into their fame, they are entirely themselves and I would definitely say that’s pretty punk rock of them.
Of course beyond the appearance there is the question of the music. Many comments included the fact that all of their music is extremely poppy and mainstream, thus making them not pop-punk. What many people don’t consider is that 5SOS have yet to release a debut album. Everything they have released so far is some version of a single with a few extra tracks to go with it. Many of the songs the boys include in their live set are songs that have never been released, and may have never even been recorded. It is hard to say that a band isn’t poppy when they’ve released almost nothing but singles. Singles are typically the most radio friendly track on an album and would definitely be more pop than punk.
Back to the original question, does 5SOS have the capacity to bring pop-punk to the mainstream? I would say absolutely, yes. Despite what internet critics say, this band is not pop. They don’t want to be like anyone else, they don’t want to be the second One Direction, they want to be the first 5 Seconds of Summer and they are working hard to get there. Their songs are catchy and have a meaning beyond “lets get drunk and hookup” which is something the mainstream has been lacking and that the public is craving. The band has captured the attention and support of people like Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low and Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens and I think they also recognize the potential this band holds. I think 5 Seconds of Summer has a lot of success ahead of them and I’m excited to see what they can bring to the scene as well.
What do you think? Are 5SOS pop or punk? Are they really capable of changing pop-punk? Leave a comment or find me on Twitter! @okayallie