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 start with the match ups in region one: Power Chord Paradise.
Region Reveal: Power Chord Paradise
“All the Small Things” takes the #1 overall seed in the bracket, and there’s a clear reason why: It’s easily the most recognizable pop-punk song ever written, with a familiar guitar chord structure, rhyming lyrics, and a chorus solely made up of “na na na”s (Tom DeLonge claims it’s an ode to the Ramones). Its influence is so wide that it’s even included in Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Pop Songs of All-Time.
This region is also loaded with two more instant sing-alongs: Panic! At the Disco’s “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy.” Not only are their massive hooks invitations to belt out every word (especially when they’re played in between sets at a punk show), but even the verses are printed in our memories. Both songs put their respective bands on the map, and “Sins” forever tied P!ATD to entryways. If you haven’t seen Brendon Urie yelling at you for not “closing the goddamn door,” you probably aren’t on the internet.
It’s hard to imagine the top three seeds having any issue advancing to the second round, let alone the regional semifinals, but there are some other intriguing songs to pay attention to Hayley Williams sings in two tracks in this region, defining Paramore’s biggest hit, “Misery Business,” and likewise stealing the show as a guest vocalist on Set Your Goals’ “The Few That Remain.” Even as a #10 seed, “1985” could put up quite the fight — as Bowling for Soup’s SR-71 cover continues its run in roller skating playlists all over America.
Taking Back Sunday’s “You’re So Last Summer” fits the pop-punk mold better than any other song from the Long Island emos, but it finds a tough task as a #12 seed. The same can be said about Green Day’s “When I Come Around,” an ultra-catchy cut from Dookie that unfortunately gets lost behind bigger singles on that album. If the region isn’t stacked enough, My Chemical Romance’s “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” — the anthem of our emo hearts — also faces tough odds, needing to topple higher seeds from the second round onward.
Neither American Hi-Fi nor Sugarcult became mainstays in the pop-punk scene, but they did produce two songs that continue to maintain their pop culture hold. If you’ve heard it, you know it’s impossible to hate the chorus to “Flavor of the Weak” (“He’s too stoned / Nintendo”). “Stuck in America” would have to pull off a UMBC-sized upset, but its inclusion is still a testament to Sugarcult’s cultural presence. Max Keeble’s Big Move, anyone? Ah, I miss the days when pop-punk infiltrated kids’ movies — and don’t even get me started on Clockstoppers.
Who We’re Putting Our Money On
- Business as Usual: #2 Panic! At the Disco’s “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and #3 Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy”
- A Chance to Contend: #4 Paramore’s “Misery Business” and #6 My Chemical Romance’s “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)”
- Ready to Play Cinderella: #10 Bowling for Soup’s “1985” and #12 Taking Back Sunday’s “You’re So Last Summer”