Summer may look a little different this year, but some things will stay true: nice weather, fun times, and great music. You may spend more time socially distancing indoors, but you can still crank that volume up to 11 and sing along to your favorite pop-punk classics. We have another way to get you in the summer mood: Pop-Punk May Madness.
We’re ready to find out the truth: What is the best pop-punk song of all-time? To find out, we took 64 hits from the genre, divided them out into four different regions, and seeded them 1-16. It’s like an NCAA Tournament, but replace sports fandom with pure nostalgia. Plus, you get to be involved in deciding the champion. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and vote on any of the three platforms as we go match up-by-match up (each day, we’ll compile the votes and determine who’s moving on).
But before we get too ahead of ourselves, it’s time we release the bracket. Over the next four days, we’ll unveil each region of match ups, each titled as a cheeky nod to a pop-punk trope. Then, next week, voting begins, and the madness will be underway.
Today, we continue with the match ups in region three: Wishful Thinking Way.
Region Reveal: Wishful Thinking Way
We could rename this region “Fall Out Boy Way” and it wouldn’t be too far off. Wishful Thinking Way features the two shiniest hits of the band’s career (well, before they abandoned their pop-punk side for some more sugary pop). Both songs could easily come out of this region on top, as “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” and “Thnks fr th Mmrs” are equally catchy, wordy, and fun — just ask my college marching band, who routinely reworked them into their repertoire.
The focus on Fall Out Boy is no slight to Blink-182, who has yet another classic of the genre in this region. “What’s My Age Again?” may in fact hold more generational staying power than either FOB track: After all, it’s only referenced on every millennial’s 23rd birthday. Perhaps the only thing that keeps it behind “All the Small Things” in seeding is that it doesn’t quite transcend the boundaries of pop-punk like the latter does. But this is a pop-punk bracket, after all.
There’s a clear departure after the top three seeds, as Taking Back Sunday, Sum 41, and The All-American Rejects all have a long road uphill as the #4, #5, and #6 seeds, respectively. But “Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut from the Team)” has some highly passionate fans behind it, keeping the song in high standing in both the pop-punk and emo worlds. Six albums later, it’s not merely a fan favorite, it is the fans’ favorite. “Move Along” has exposure on its side, from its non-stop radio airplay, to bringing Lego fans into the fold with those Bionicle commercials. It will be interesting if “Fat Lip” can triumph out of the region like it has as Sum 41’s number-one single (yes, it outperformed “In Too Deep”).
Allister is one of several pop-punk “one-hit wonders” to appear on the bracket, though that says more about the strength of “Somewhere on Fullerton” than it does about them. A 12-seed shouldn’t downplay the importance of this nostalgia trip, which fully encapsulates the mainstream surge and suburban infiltration of pop-punk at the turn of the 21st century. Blink and New Found Glory stand on an even higher pedestal, and the fact that less-popular-but-equally-as-durable hits like “Dammit” and “All Downhill from Here” still make it in as single-digit seeds is a testament to the bands’ influence on the genre.
The mid-2000s and the 2010s diversify the mix in this region, with youth group darlings Relient K and MTV reality stars Cartel representing the former. Two pop-punk romps from the past decade have the opportunity to pull upsets, notably The Wonder Years’ “Passing Through a Screen Door.” If “What’s My Age Again?” is everybody’s 23rd birthday song, then “Screen Door” is everyone’s 26th birthday song. They came out a generation apart, but both tracks adequately reflect the pains of growing up, and what better defines pop-punk than that?
Who We’re Putting Our Money On
- Business as Usual: #1 Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” and #2 Blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?”
- A Chance to Contend: #4 Taking Back Sunday’s “Cute Without the E (Cut from the Team)” and #7 Boys Like Girls’ “The Great Escape”
- Ready to Play Cinderella: #8 Blink-182’s “Dammit” and #11 The Wonder Years’ “Passing Through a Screen Door”