Even though it hit the mainstream officially in the mid-Nineties, pop-punk began bubbling up in the Seventies in various forms. Four decades later, it's still one of the most predominant and popular rock genres, still soundtracking new generations of teenagers fed up with suburban life, heartbreak and parents who just don't understand. Along the way, bands like Green Day and Blink-182 became the new guard of rock music and began crafting modern classics not chained to a specific year or context. We asked our readers to vote for their favorite pop-punk albums. Here are the results.
If the Ramones set the groundwork for what pop-punk would become, Green Day made it a radio reality. The band's third album, 1994's Dookie, served as their major label debut and a launch point for the more absurd, childish rock of the post-grunge Nineties. Their slacker rebellion found a refreshing annex between the speed and grit of early punk with pop accessibility, making songs about masturbation and therapy weirdly anthemic.
By 1999, Green Day were already maturing their pop-punk but Blink-182 came through as the snot-nosed younger brothers of the genre. Enema of the State was the band's third album and first with their most famous line-up: Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker. The band was beginning to break with their previous album, Dude Ranch, but Enema singles "All the Small Things" and "What's My Age Again?" set a career-making tone, paving a space for irreverence in alternative-rock that was a perfect juxtaposition to the pristine bubblegum beginning to rise up in pop music.
By the time American Idiot debuted, Green Day might as well have been the classic rock old guard of the genre. The band had influenced countless young bands, ushering in an entire generation of early millennium alt-rock that could be heard everywhere from MTV to teen flick soundtracks. With their incredibly epic rock opera, Green Day harnessed the drama of being an angsty teen in thick black eyeliner into a sprawling masterpiece that introduced the world to the "Jesus of the Suburbia," "Whatsername" and "St. Jimmy," three characters and possible metaphors for all the pop-punk archetypes out there.
Even the humorous, snarky dudes of Blink-182 can pack an emotional punch: Take Off Your Pants and Jacket saw the band fully settled into their status as one of the biggest rock bands in the world as they continued exploring their irreverence on sugar rushes like "The Rock Show" while also sharing a heart-wrenching message perfect for young fans coming from broken homes like on "Stay Together for the Kids." Unifying those two aspects was a band comfortable with moving their sound from club-ready to arena-ready.
Dude Ranch served as Blink-182's major label debut and a refinement of their style. With breakout MTV hits "Dammit" and "Josie," the band positioned themselves as a group fighting against encroaching adulthood while remaining deeply unafraid of being hopeless romantics. Plus, the album saw their musicianship get tighter and the band lean in to the pop side of their punk.
Pop-punk is more than three chords and Green Day began to test the boundaries of the genre and their sound with Nimrod, the group's fifth album. On it, the NorCal trio explored surf rock, folk and ska and even crafted an iconic song that will continued to be used at graduation ceremonies from here to eternity: "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)."
Bratty and fast-paced, the Ramones built the template for catchy, whiney pop-punk of the next four decades. The under-three-minute bursts of adrenaline that had the outfit-coordinated quartet listing all the things they wanna and don't wanna do paved the way for the sound and style of bands like Green Day, Blink-182, All Time Low and more.
The Offspring's Smash offered a bit raunchier and heavier kind of pop-punk but also was a pivotal moment in the sister genre of skate-punk. The band members were slackers but, instead of being chill about it like Green Day or finding humor in their situation like Blink, the Offspring were a little more pissed off. Still, it wouldn't be pop-punk without accessibility to the masses or a dose of humor and songs like "Self-Esteem" and "Come Out and Play" – which found a happy-medium between all the aspects that contribute to a great pop-punk album.
Jimmy Eat World may have arguably been the point where pop-punk and emo merged, making the two genres closely related in the new millennium. Heavy riffs became intertwined with emotional depth as the band were direct about their feelings and offered tender comfort on tracks like "Sweetness" and "The Middle." While early pop-punk had a bit more snarl, Jimmy Eat World were the pop-punk band you could bring home to mom.
Billy Idol would go on to become a radio staple in the Eighties, but with his band Generation X, he helped bridge the gap between the sound of the underground with the accessibility of the mainstream. The band released Valley of the Dolls in 1979 in the midst of the British punk explosion and while peers like the Sex Pistols snarled their way through their disillusionment, Generation X weren't afraid of looking to a little Brit-pop as they constructed their songs.