Pop punk has its naysayers among punk fans, although saying “nay” is sort of the go-to move for some punks. However, there are a lot of fine bands out there that fall under the nebulous definition of “pop punk.” In fact, you could argue that the Ramones, one of the first punk bands, was also one of the first pop punk bands. Many groups over the years have combined the propulsive sensibilities of punk with the bright sheen of pop. Here are our 25 favorites.
When you think “pop punk,” Blink-182 is one of the first two bands you probably think of. (The second band will be coming up next, don’t worry.) After putting out a couple of albums, including the Colleen Green favorite “Dude Ranch” which she just released a song-for-song cover of, the band got a new drummer in Travis Barker. It then put out a music video for “What’s My Age Again?” that featured them all naked. Suddenly, the punk trio became legitimate stars in the music world. Only one original member, Mark Hoppus, now remains, but Blink is still going.
Green Day is the other trio that is effectively pop punk royalty. Sure, its most well-known song is probably “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” an acoustic ballad that has soundtracked millions of graduations. Of course, that sound is starkly different from some of its classic punk tunes like “Basket Case” and “When I Come Around.”
Jimmy Eat World was almost caught in an awkward spot, as its breakthrough album, “Bleed American,” came out right around the time of the 9/11 attacks, which swiftly got it rebranded as a self-titled album. The title track was an aggressive punk track, but it didn’t have that anthem quality that leads to pop punk singalongs. That’s where two other songs from that album, “Sweetness” and the ubiquitous “The Middle” came in.
There was a period of time when pop punk was in the zeitgeist, and Saves the Day got swept up in that fervor. That was totally fine, because songs like “At Your Funeral” and “Freakish” deserved the recognition. There have been a lot of band members in Saves the Day around frontman Chris Conley, but the band has basically never stopped recording albums.
Jawbreaker didn’t necessarily find mainstream success but just went ahead and influenced a bunch of pop punk bands that followed in its wake. The trio released only four albums, and they all came out between 1990 and 1995. After the final one, “Dear You,” came out the band broke up, which only stoked its cult following. Recently Jawbreaker reunited, much to the joy of all the pop punk fans who have been spinning “Bivouac” for almost 30 years at this point.
Much like the Ramones, the Buzzcocks were at the forefront of the pop punk movement. In fact, given that they were founded in 1976, they were by definition one of the first pop punk bands. While their most popular release is a collection of singles called "Singles Going Steady," that album featured some iconic pop punk tunes. Sadly frontman Pete Shelley died in 2018, effectively ending the band’s run.
So many bands on this list consider themselves, well, direct descendents of California pop punk band the Descendents. In fact, Tom DeLonge even said that Blink-182 owes a ton of debt to the Descendents, who debuted in 1982 with the iconic album “Milo Goes to College.” The Milo in question is Milo Aukerman who, interestingly enough, also has a PhD in molecular biology.
Seattle may still be famous for the grunge scene, but Tacocat brings a ton of pop punk energy from the Pacific Northwest as well. It's a more modern band than many of the classic pop punk acts, which may be why its funny songs hold up better humor wise. We highly recommend checking out their excellent 2019 album "This Mess is a Place."
From the ashes of Operation Ivy rose Rancid, which became one of the bands at the forefront of pop punk in the ‘90s. With their Mohawks and punk rock attire, they certainly looked the part. The aggression was there on their classic album “…And Out Come the Wolves.” It features smash songs like “Ruby Soho” and “Time Bomb.” Entertainment Weekly gave the album an A-plus Not too shabby.
Have you ever chanted “Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole!” at a sporting event? You can thank Bouncing Souls for that. They knew how to create a catchy hook. Listen to enough Bouncing Souls, and you will find yourself almost unable to keep yourself from singing along.
There seemed to be a bit of a lull in the pop punk world for a little while after the turn of the millennium. Fortunately, that has not been the case in the last decade or so. Modern Baseball was one of the bands that helped revive the genre. It only put out three albums, and for now the band is on indefinite hiatus. However, band member Jake Ewald now has a project called Slaughter Beach, Dog that has a lot of pop punk vibes to it as well.
If you aren’t on the Charly Bliss bandwagon, get on it now. Its debut album, “Guppy,” from 2017 absolutely ruled. Its 2019 album, “Young Enough,” was a little less driven by roaring guitars, but it’s still awesome. The vocals of frontwoman Eva Hendricks may not be for everybody, but watch the band live once and you’ll get over it. Few people bring as much intensity to a performance as Hendricks. Plus, one of the guys in the band was a voice in “The Incredibles!”
A lot of pop punk bands had an anarchic, humorous energy to them. Not only did they have a lot of joke songs, but they also liked to push the envelope. Just check out NOFX’s discography sometime. The Vandals were one of the primary comedic pop punk bands during their long lifespan, releasing albums between 1982 and 2004. Do all of them hold up? Not necessarily, but when you talk pop punk, you have to include The Vandals.
Live fast, die young, and leave an impeccable discography. That’s the story behind Chumped. Its debut self-titled EP got the band a ton of buzz, and then it released one excellent album in 2014. “Teenage Retirement” is pretty much perfect, but that was that. Chumped disbanded in 2016 with only one full-length album to its name. At least frontwoman Anika Pyle has continued to record under the name Katie Ellen, which we highly recommend as well.
Let’s head back overseas! After all, bands like The Clash were vital to the birth of punk. It has as much of a British history as an American one. Martha is a current British punk band with a literary bend. The lyrics are often complex, but the songs have that propulsive thrust of pop punk that we crave.
Not every punk singer has a, shall we say, traditionally admirable voice. That’s fine. Punk fans tend to like a bit of rawness. Hayley Williams of Paramore is not one of those singers. Her voice is the calling card of Paramore, which has helped it become one of the most-popular pop punk bands going today.
Unforunately, harsh accusations of sexual misconduct against frontman Jesse Lacey have cast an awkward cloud over Brand New’s legacy. Also, in hindsight “Your Favorite Weapon” is kind of a gross and hateful album. That all being said, arguably no pop punk band of the 2000s was more cultishly adored than Brand New. The music still stands up, as does the band’s undeniable impact on future musicians.
Matt Skiba is effectively pulling double duty on this list, as he’s been a member of Blink-182 since Tom DeLonge left the band. He’s also still part of the double act at the front of Alkaline Trio. While it never had the success of Blink, it had a successful run of its own. In fact, having released its first album in 1998 and its most recent album in 2018, that’s 20 years of pop punk under its belt.
Unfortunately, we just lost this stellar trio to a breakup in 2019. In fact, these three just played their last show in their hometown of Philadelphia in August. Still, in their time together they put out two excellent albums that you should check out right now. Even if they never get back together, there’s plenty of infectious pop punk jams to be enjoyed.
How could you not be intrigued by the words “New Zealand pop punk band?” You have to be interested, right? So you should check out The Beths. The trio released one of the best albums of 2018 with the all-killer, no-filler debut, "Future Me Hates Me." While they all seem like nice, quiet folks, their music absolutely rips. Their 2020 release "Jump Rope Gazers" is just as strong.
Taking Back Sunday has released seven albums, but admittedly a lot of people haven’t listened beyond the first two. Hey, it was the early 2000s, the height of emo and pop punk. The one-two punch of “Tell All Your Friends” and “Where You Want to Be” made Taking Back Sunday kings of the genre for about five years. If you ever want a blast from the past, those albums will take you back (Sunday) in the blink of an eye.
The exclamation point isn’t based on our enthusiasm. It’s part of the band’s name. The trio, who all took on the last name Erg, have been in a way both prolific and not prolific. They only released three-full length albums, but they released a bunch of EPs, splits and singles. That’s an old-school sensibility, perhaps befitting a band that all took on fake last names a la the Ramones.
Emo and pop punk often go hand in hand, and a lot of people consider The Get Up Kids one of the progenitors of the rise of emo. The band itself, which viewed its music through the lens of punk, had some reservations about its impact on the emo scene. Guitarist Jim Suptic even went as far as to apologize for what he felt the punk scene had become based on his band’s influence. Hey, at least it had that influence.
Joyce Manor kind of feels like a band out of time. It would have fit in perfectly in the pop punk scene of the early 2000s. However, the band didn’t release its self-titled debut until 2011. It's sort of carrying the torch of classic pop punk for modern audiences. Fittingly, Joyce Manor is from Southern California, the cradle of pop punk.
Yeah, the most famous song is a pop punk cover of “Boys of Summer.” One, that song is catchy. Two, the band had an album called “So Long, Astoria” go gold, and you don’t do that with one cover. Well, in the old days of music maybe you did. Since 1996, the Ataris has been part of the pop punk scene, with a heaping helping of pop culture influence involved.