I can’t believe I’m writing this post. Actually, that’s not true. I can. I can definitely believe that I’m taking time out of my week to sit down and write a blog post about four boys from Australia who’ve opened for One Direction and are sending the punk community into a tailspin.
You’ve probably heard of 5 Seconds of Summer, even if you haven’t heard their music. My roommate has said on multiple occasions that if you choose to classify them as pop-punk — which Alternative Press has clearly chosen to do, planting the band on the cover of their next issue with the headline ‘Why pop-punk needs 5 Seconds of Summer’ — then it’s safe to say that 5SOS falls more on the ‘pop’ side of that genre classification. And that’s okay. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with pop music. So what the hell is everyone so pissed off about?
A Property of Zack post summed it up nicely:
No one’s calling 5 Seconds Of Summer “punk” one way or the other, per say [sic], but there’s been a whole lot of talk about how this single band all the way from Australia is out to destroy pop-punk and all of everything you love. Shit, do you think they’re gonna do it?
No. No, I really don’t think they’re going to destroy everything I love. There are probably people who don’t think I deserve to have an opinion on this subject, because I like One Direction and I love pop music. But I also love pop-punk music. Pop-punk saved my life. It introduced the concept of Not Being Okay being okay and gave me lyrics to sing about things I didn’t know how to say. I grew up on pop-punk and listen to it more than probably any other genre of music, despite having a massive iTunes library that spans decades.
Do I consider 5 Seconds of Summer to be a pop-punk band? Sure. Why not? Pop-punk has grown and changed and progressed into a staple of music over the last couple decades. Bands like blink-182, Green Day and New Found Glory inspired bands like Panic! at the Disco, All Time Low and Fall Out Boy, who inspired bands like 5 Seconds of Summer. That’s how this shit works. And it might hurt your poor little anti-inclusion brain (which isn’t a very punk way of thinking), but it’s the truth. If you think that bands like 5SOS somehow “prove” that pop has “watered down” punk music to the point that it’s “unrecognizable”, I think you need to take a step back.
It should be noted that I’m saying all of this as a person who’s mostly ambivalent to this band. I like the single “She Looks So Perfect” because it’s catchy and the video actually represents several body types and ages, all getting naked to this song about a girl looking hot in her boyfriend’s underwear. That’s pretty damn cool. But I haven’t bought or even listened to their album (though I will, soon, especially with all of this crap surrounding them) and didn’t really know anything about 5SOS until a few months ago. In fact, I didn’t even know they were Australian until I read that Property of Zack post half an hour ago. So this isn’t about me defending the band itself.
I just feel as though, given some of the awful bullshit in the punk community at large, there are far bigger issues that we could be talking about than whether or not it’s appropriate or correct to label 5 Seconds of Summer as pop-punk. Given that the punk movement is supposed to be about including everyone, giving the riff-raff a home base and a safe space, it’s weird that anytime a band doesn’t quite fit the traditional punk mold (and that’s a contradiction if I’ve ever heard one), they’re ripped apart as shitty and unworthy.
Hell, if you want a legitimate reason to complain about 5SOS, talk about the cultural appropriation they recently demonstrated in attempts to promote their debut album. It would be a far more interesting conversation.
For now, I’ll just leave you with this tweet from Patrick Stump, because it sums up my feelings perfectly:
Stray thought for the day: Putting boundaries on how punk should sound/look is the least punk rock thing one can do. Be yourself=Very punk.
— Patrick Stump (@PatrickStump) July 2, 2012