5 seconds of pop-punk bliss

Pull out those ripped jeans and over-sized flannel shirts, because our favorite 2013 trend is making a comeback: pop-punk music.

While the genre was mainly tagged as a niche, edgy style of music meant for those lonely and angsty teens, in 2021 the industry is seeing more and more artists release music with pop-punk influences. Perhaps the biggest name in this wave of nostalgia is Machine Gun Kelly, who released the pop-punk album Tickets To My Downfall in 2020. The guitar-driven record caused a wave of up and coming artists like jxdn, Maggie Lindemann, LilHuddy and YUNGBLUD to follow suit, bringing the world angsty and instrumental tracks about vindictive heartbreaks and non-conformity, topics that stem from the "stick it to the man" theme of the early 2010s. Even pop-punk icon Avril Lavigne is making a glorious return to the genre with her next album.

I must confess, while I was not allowed to wear heavy eyeliner and act like the entire world was against me, or slam my door and blast angry songs, I did slightly embrace the musical content of the pop-punk genre in my early teenage years... when I was not listening to One Direction of course.

The one pop-punk band I championed the most? 5 Seconds of Summer. Yes, the underwear band. While 5SOS has by now fully matured into a comfortable position between alt-pop and mainstream styles with their albums Youngblood and CALM (and most likely the upcoming 5SOS5), their first two albums 5 Seconds of Summer and Sounds Good Feels Good had a true pop-punk sound, and they reached some really big audiences. Sadly those albums did not quite pick up full speed in mainstream music, besides a few of their singles becoming radio hits, ie. "She Looks So Perfect," "Amnesia," and "Jet Black Heart."

With the pop-punk genre resurfacing in 2021 though, the nostalgia of the angsty and heartbroken 5SOS rock sound makes me think about how integral the Australian band's musical roots were to the genre back then, and how maybe we should all take a moment to appreciate 5SOS a little more.

So grab those Converse and fasten your bandanas, because we are taking a virtual road trip back to the good old days of 5SOS supremacy.


- 5 Seconds of Summer

Full Track List:

  1. She Looks So Perfect

  2. Don't Stop

  3. Good Girls

  4. Kiss Me Kiss Me

  5. 18

  6. Everything I Didn't Say

  7. Beside You

  8. End Up Here

  9. Long Way Home

  10. Heartbreak Girl

  11. English Love Affair

  12. Amnesia

  13. Social Casualty

  14. Never Be

  15. Voodoo Doll

  16. Tomorrow Never Dies

  17. Independence Day

  18. Close As Strangers

  19. Out Of My Limit

  20. Greenlight

  21. Lost Boy

  22. Mrs. All American

This debut album was the genesis of one of the biggest unknown bands in music history. If you were to ask someone if they listened to 5SOS, they would have no idea who you were talking about. However if you were to then play "She Looks So Perfect" they would know all the words out of habit... seriously, that song was everywhere.

Were most of these songs about pining over a girl? Yes, but what else were 15 year old boys going to write about, other than wanting to break the molds of societal expectations? Besides, for us teenage girls, songs like "Long Way Home" and "Beside You" were the perfect tracks to make us feel like the main character.

Despite the boy band-esque lyrical topics, the guitar riffs, both electric and bass, punk rock influences and infectious pop-punk sounds separated 5SOS from their British 1D friends. This album established the band as a real force to be reckoned with, as from early on they knew what kind of band they wanted to be and what kind of music they wanted to make. They had a hand in writing every song, played their own instruments for every track and had a clear purpose in doing so. 5 Seconds of Summer was an unforgettable debut.

My Personal Favorites: End Up Here, Long Way Home, English Love Affair and Greenlight


- Sounds Good Feels Good

Full Track List:

  1. Money

  2. She's Kinda Hot

  3. Hey Everybody!

  4. Permanent Vacation

  5. Jet Black Heart

  6. Catch Fire

  7. Waste The Night

  8. Vapor

  9. Castaway

  10. Fly Away

  11. Invisible

  12. Airplanes

  13. San Francisco

  14. Outer Space/Carry On

  15. Safety Pin

  16. The Girl Who Cried Wolf

  17. Broken Home

  18. The Space Between A Rock and a Hard Place

  19. Story of Another Us

  20. Lost in Reality

  21. Over and Out

  22. Broken Pieces

Alright, this is the big one. 5SOS was never more pop-punk than during their Sounds Good Feels Good era; they represented everything 2015. While some tracks still told the good ol' "boy meets girl" or "boy loses girl" or "boy gets friend zoned" stories, the band's sophomore album featured much more lyrical variety, and really encapsulated the full experience of being teenagers in the music industry. Sounds Good Feels Good explores everything from corporate greed, mental health and teenage romance to reckless youth, non-conformity and wanderlust.

When I get overwhelmed with daily life, I get in the car and BLAST this album. Why would I pay a therapist when I could stream "Castaway" and "Broken Home" for free? While their debut album perhaps lied on the safe side of mainstream pop little more, Sounds Good Feels Good brought a balance of angst and catchiness in a fearless way. With this release, you could tell the band really did finally embrace their voices. The album counteracts ballads like "Jet Black Heart" and "Waste The Night" with heavy rock tracks "Vapor" and "Over and Out," but maintains the edgy yet romantic theme with "Story of Another Us" and "San Francisco."

If there is one word to describe this album, it is liberating. Listening to Sounds Good Feels Good literally feels like shedding all of your anxiety and sharing in the band's pain; I always feel ready to embrace the best experiences life has to offer after listening to these songs, and that is the most important part of pop-punk music.

My Personal Favorites: Castaway, Story of Another Us, Broken Pieces and Fly Away


So before you go and start saying "OMG, I love MGK's pop-punk songs," do me and yourself a favor and listen to some old-school 5SOS. If you really want to know what the pop-punk genre is meant to mean to music listeners, these two albums are the best examples.


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