Twenty years ago, pop punk was gaining mainstream credit as punk bands begun creeping into the public eye with the likes of Green Day and The Offspring gaining widespread mainstream success. This success spawned a generation of pop punk bands that awkwardly straddled the gap between being punk rock and being cheesy pop rock bands. Bands like Blink 182 and Bowling for Soup stuck to the traditional song structures of punk rock, but incorporated catchy guitar chords, sing-along choruses, and utterly ridiculous lyrics into their music. This created the foundation for the creation of the catchy pop punk genre we know today; except without the obvious emo and hardcore influences – those came later as emo and hardcore music grew to be popular.
All the ’90s pop punk bands like Green Day, Blink 182, The Offspring, and so forth, have grown up and begun writing what is deemed to more mature music. Bowling for Soup, on the other hand, missed the “Growing Up 101” lecture. While Blink 182 released the more emotionally mature, and Angels and Airwaves inspired, Neighborhoods in 2011; Bowling for Soup continued to do what they do best, and released the fun-loving Lunch. Drunk. Love. The album was pretty much Bowling for Soup doing what they do best: writing innately stupid songs with little emotional depth to them, but are still brilliant simply because you’re left grinning from ear-to-ear.
Their latest release further cements that they could not care about conforming to the norm of making mature music. In a stroke of marketing genius, Bowling for Soup decided to release a greatest hits album that documents the first decade of their career – and the only part of their career when people didn’t make them the butt of every joke, or treat them like an irrelevant band. Songs People Actually Liked Volume 1 The First Ten Years not only documents their most popular songs, it also documents the songs that people actually remember even though they’ll probably only recognize “Punk Rock 101” and “Girl All The Bad Guys Wants”. It isn’t an indictment of Bowling for Soup’s music, but rather an indictment of people’s attention spans and their lack of appreciation for a band that subtly shaped an entire movement of pop punk.
However, if you’re a fan, then this greatest hits album will be a treasure trove of nostalgia. Hidden gems like “Suckerpunch”, “2113”, and “Dance With You” will leap out at you and remind you of a time when summers where more carefree, and you didn’t have to worry about turning on the radio and hearing auto-tune butchering the basic principles of music. Songs like “The Bitch Song” will bombard you with nostalgia and you’ll struggle to resist screeching along to the song in some desperate attempt to make your way onto America’s Got Talent.
Many people have questioned why Bowling for Soup have released a greatest hits album, and a lot of people have attempted to insult the band in the process of this questioning. It seems that it is once again a question of relevance, or it is the curse of pop punk bands to be disregarded if they’re in their forties and still playing music that embodies a whimsical and youthful energy. Regardless, Songs People Actually Liked Volume 1 The First Ten Years is a fantastic trip down memory lane that will leave you smiling.