Since I started learning about what real music was in about the sixth grade, there has never a more important genre to me than pop punk. Before that, all I listened to was my dad’s music. I was lucky, because my dad has excellent taste in rock and roll and all of those bands that he showed me – Dire Straits, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Boston, etc. – are bands that I still listen to. My dad also showed me Bruce Springsteen, who I consider to be the best musician of all time and my favorite artist ever. But in sixth or seventh grade, my life was changed by New Found Glory, Green Day and Yellowcard.
Since then, I’ve gone through a holy crap-ton of phases. In junior year of high school, I liked a girl who was really into this simple indie stuff, so I got really into indie pop rock-ish music. And in a phase before that, I was really into poppier stuff; there was a time when Forever the Sickest Kids‘ debut full-length was on repeat in my car and I listened to All Time Low‘s So Wrong, It’s Right on a daily basis. For a good amount of my senior year in high school, I was on what I considered at the time to be a “scream-o” binge. During that time I listened to a lot of Chiodos, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Silverstein, and I’d continue that list but really I don’t want to lose any more street cred than I already have.
When I started college and found my true calling (or whatever) in writing (or whatever I’m doing that resembles writing), I sort of naturally drifted back to pop punk. Like about half of the people in the world, The Wonder Years‘ The Upsides led me to better times. But the music that I discovered in the time before and after the release of The Upsides is just as important. The entire No Sleep/Run for Cover Records scene is something incredible that I consider myself lucky to be somewhat a part of. Of course other labels are in on the action and of course those bands will move upwards and onwards, out of their starter labels to bigger things.
But anyway, the point here is that things begin and end with this genre for me. Call me what you will, it doesn’t bother me. On a typical day, I might listen to Transit‘s Keep This To Yourself when I walk to the bus, Bayside‘s latest release when I’m riding the bus, maybe some of Man Overboard‘s Real Talk if I’m feeling somewhat angsty, or maybe some of Brand New‘s Your Favorite Weapon if I’m feeling nostalgic.
I don’t know how accurate that list actually might be for a typical day of mine, but you get the idea.
Without any further ado, the following is my list of the best pop punk records of all time. Now, I will first make one thing clear: there are albums that have been made that I consider better than some of these records. But this list was made with a heavy dose of personal taste and emotional sentiment, so continue at your own risk, dearest reader, and ready your fingertips for whatever scathing fury you will unleash upon me at the culmination of your reading.
Top 10 Pop-Punk Albums of All Time
10. Yellowcard – Ocean Avenue
9. Thrice – The Artist In The Ambulance
8. Blink-182 – Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
7. Motion City Soundtrack – Commit This To Memory
6. Brand New – Your Favorite Weapon
5. The Wonder Years: The Upsides
I bet most people were wondering where this album would land on my list. It’s quite possible that no album has ever meant as much to me as this one, but when making a list such as this one there is a hodgepodge of things to consider, which is what lowers The Upsides’ ranking a bit. Still though, The Wonder Years are a band that is going to reinvent the scene in 2011 and beyond. _____________________________________________________________
4. Yellowcard: Paper Walls
I fully expect this pick to receive the most outrage. Paper Walls is the pop punk album that every band wanted to write, but never had within themselves. Bands like blink-182 did, with that self-titled record. Paper Walls will forever be Yellowcard’s opus. It’s dark, edgy and ambitious while retaining a ridiculous amount of catchiness.
3. Green Day: Dookie
For the longest time, Green Day and Yellowcard were my favorite bands. Like, probably from sixth to tenth grade. Yellowcard stayed at the top for longer than that while Green Day sort of faded away. But Dookie is something timeless, an album that even non-fans of the genre can love. It’s also a solid pick for those pop-punk purists, who insist that bands like New Found Glory write “easycore” or “happy hardcore” or whatever the genre Nazi will call it. 1994, okay? This was one of the first important albums in the genre, and will always be among my favorite.
2. Blink-182: Enema of the State
Perhaps a pick that is easy to see coming. For most people, it comes down to whether they like Dude Ranch or Enema Of the State more. For me, the real dilemma is whether or not to put Take Off Your Pants and Jacket here instead. But it’s easy to pick Enema because of its singles, it’s strongest tracks. “Dumpweed,” so help me God, is a song I’ll be listening to regularly in 20 years. There isn’t much to say about this record that hasn’t already been said by someone more important than me.
1. New Found Glory: Sticks and Stones
No, I am not kidding you, reader. This is my favorite pop punk album of all time. Is it a cliché pick? Is it an easy pick? I don’t know, you can make up your mind about that. But at the end of the day it’s my pick and it’s never a pick that I have to think about. My favorite album ever? Easy. Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run. I’m not the guy who goes, “Ughhhh…well you know, I just love so much music, I just can’t really put my finger on one.” Nope. Not that guy. The question of my favorite pop punk album is as easy as my favorite album of all time. From start to finish, there is never a slow moment. Even the songs that get forgotten are phenomenal. Closer “The Story So Far” is my favorite closer on an album in this genre. And something that I consider noteworthy – when people ask me what pop punk is, I play “My Friends Over You” for them before anything else. There’s nary a song I’d rather drunkenly belt out with close friends. So yes, I could talk about each individual track but I won’t, because much like the individual Power Rangers and Neville Longbottom, they are all stronger when they’re put together or given a burst of courage in a tough situation. Such is the end of my list, and I hope you enjoyed read.
More Than Honorable Mention (alphabetically):
Bayside – The Walking Wounded
Northstar – Pollyanna
Set Your Goals – Mutiny!
Sum 41 – Does This Look Infected?
Taking Back Sunday – Tell All Your Friends
Thomas Nassiff is a staff writer for AbsolutePunk.net. He is 20, goes to school at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and enjoys short walks on cement sidewalks and petting Drew Maroon’s hair when he has been drinking a little bit. Like the article? Follow Thomas on twitter! @ThomasNassiff