Move over, guys. Pop punk has come back strong and women are taking center stage this time around.
Pop star Olivia Rodrigo, whose angsty anthem “Good 4 U” landed her the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100, brought in pop-punk princess Avril Lavigne on a spring tour of Toronto to sing the seminal hit by Lavigne “Complicated”.
At Willow Smith’s The latest single, “Hover Like a Goddess,” builds on the brash sound of 2021’s “Lately I Feel Everything,” which saw the 21-year-old singer explore pop-punk sounds, including collaborations with Lavigne and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker.
And don’t forget indie pop prodigy Billie Eilish, who danced to her song “Happier Than Ever” at the Grammy Awards and covered Paramore’s “Misery Business” during her set at Coachella – with help from the The band’s lead singer, Hayley Williams.
“I love pop-punk and emo music,” Rodrigo told Billboard in February. “People crave these super emotional, less polished moments in music, so the aggressiveness of punk is really alluring.”
The rise of these artists marks an about-face for pop punk, which resembled a boys’ club during its heyday in the mid to late 1990s and early 2000s. Male artists such as Green Day, The Offspring, Blink-182 and Sum 41 have dominated the charts and the airwaves with their take on the genre.
But this girl-power side is reminiscent of the ancestors of pop punk in the 70s and 80s. Bands like The Runaways and Blondie paved the way during this era and proved that even in a man’s world, women can still stand out.
Rebirth is also to be propelled by a genre-fluid generation of fans, eager to consume and indifferent to traditional music category niches.
“Kids love everything,” says Mike Damante, author of “Hey Suburbia: A Guide to the Emo/Pop-Punk Rise.” “Younger artists are tapping into all these different influences, and they’re not afraid to do that because the fan base is more open to hearing different types of music.”
Musicians making waves: Olivia Rodrigo Condemns Roe’s Leak v. Wade, Phoebe Bridgers reveal abortion
Known for its fast tempos and loud guitars, pop punk has a way of going straight to the point, and that emotional immediacy resonates especially with women, from pop-punk pioneers The Go-Go’s to the generation’s standard-bearer. Z Rodrigo.
“I’ve struggled with my mental health all my life, so a lot of my lyrics were slightly dark, even if people didn’t notice it,” Go-Go guitarist Jane Wiedlin told NPR in 2020. Part of the Go-Go formula, we love sunny, catchy melodies, and have a little lyrical darkness to add to it, to give it balance – a yin-yang thing.”
From the shameless growl of Rodrigo’s “Good 4 U” to the sweary lyrics of Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever,” Gen Z women are embracing anger and “expressions that previous generations might have found ugly or unfeminine,” turning a genre like pop punk into an outlet, says Laura Goode, who teaches feminist, gender and sexuality studies at Stanford University .
“There’s a natural connection between this very justifiable anger and listening to a lot of music that expresses and illuminates this anger,” Goode said. said.
During his set at Britain’s Glastonbury Music Festival in late June, Rodrigo dedicated an acidic cover of Lily Allen’s “(Expletive) You” to the US Supreme Court following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Rodrigo said she was “devastated and terrified” after Americans lost their constitutional right to abortion.
“This song goes to the judges: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh. We hate you! announces Rodrigue.
Surprise! Billie Eilish brings Hayley Williams out of Paramore at Coachella
Mimi Thi Nguyen, associate professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says that while there are “many different genders that lend themselves to rage, frustration, and to criticism”, punk music is “an expressive musical genre”. it’s made to be (angry) at what’s going on around us.
It’s this “emotionally stripped down” nature that draws fans back to pop punk, says Damante, adding that listeners cling to the genre’s authenticity and “lyrics from the heart on the sleeve.”
Skye Sweetnam, singer of the metal group Sumo Cyco, can attest to this confessional use of music.
“Having a place like heavy music to channel all that kind of energy — your thoughts, your feelings — is a really positive way to do it,” she says.
Sweetnam, 34, made her musical debut in the early 2000s pop-punk scene, releasing her debut album “Noise from the Basement” in 2004 and opening for Britney Spears on tour.
‘I am constantly moved’: Olivia Rodrigo praises female artists in Billboard Woman of the Year speech
Willow Smith and the social soundtrack of pop punk
Pop punk’s unapologetic audacity also offers women a way to re-examine — and relieve themselves of — current social issues that shape their experience.
“There’s a lot going on socially and politically, and people just want to scream and grunt and speak out because this time in life, in America and on Earth, it’s not easy,” Smith told Nylon. in July 2021.
Lucy O’Brien, author of “She Bop: The Definitive History of Women in Popular Music,” says the freedom found in punk rock has historically given it a social dimension.
“Punk and feminism have always been very comfortable with each other,” says O’Brien. “Some of the core ideas of punk and feminism mirror each other to some extent: that feeling of following no rules and the creative expression of DIY to the max.”
Clapping back: Billie Eilish Responds to Ye’s Apology Requests for Travis Scott’s Alleged Diss
Collapsing self-esteem and body image dysphoria triggered by social media help fuel young women’s embrace of pop punk. Rodrigo tackles the subject on his song “Jealousy Jealousy”, a biting track an ode to “paper-white teeth and perfect bodies” seen on image-centric apps like TikTok and Instagram.
“Intense racism and sexism”: Willow Smith remembers going on tour with her mother Jada Pinkett Smith
Sweetnam says the unpolished nature of pop punk may resonate with women now because “(we’re) coming out of a time when a lot of things have been Instagram’s polished version of your life.”
“People are really hungry for that authenticity, to see those moments of reality and weakness,” she says. “When you grow up, you don’t just become this perfect, polished, refined person. We still have deep emotions; we still have flaws. We still have those moments of regret or mistakes.
Real conversation with Willow: Paris Jackson Speaks Candidly to Willow Smith About Suicide Attempts, Coming Out and Self-Love
Regardless of its genesis, this dominant female dominance in pop punk represents a notable inflection point, as it highlights the gendered prism through which artists have often been assessed.
“We still have questions about types or styles of music in relation to sex,” says Lori Gooding, associate professor of music therapy at Florida State University. “That in itself always tells us what we’re working towards as a culture, as a society, is a place where anyone can engage in any kind of music that wouldn’t be considered different or unusual or inappropriate because of her gender.”
On a broader level, this female wave of pop-punk representation is also a testament to women’s resilience in battling noise to make their voices heard, regardless of genre or era. And the multi-platinum and viral success of artists like Rodrigo, Eilish and Smith indicates that there is a receptive audience for this empowered fury.
“Young women have always made angry music, whether someone wanted to listen to it or not,” Nguyen says. “There are a lot of things young women can write angry music about. It hasn’t stopped for a very long time, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon. »
‘Love is a lot of work’: Avril Lavigne talks about releasing an album with MGK, Travis Barker
Contributor: Naledi Ushe