January 25, 2016


Why Your Favorite Pop-Punk & Emo Bands Are Dominating The Charts

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Getty Images

Emo revivalism is a two-word phrase that has been a contentious one since its inception, and remains so today. Originally coined to describe the return of Midwest emo greats The Promise RingAmerican Football and their ilk, the expression now extends to certain mainstream bands of the mid-aughts, groups like Good CharlotteMy Chemical Romance and The Used who became successful by taking over the mall and high school soundtracks.

It makes sense that these bands can find themselves once again enjoying the acclaim that they did nearly a decade (sometimes, over a decade) prior. The kids who grew up with those bands, well, grew up: They're in their 20's now, and they've learned to embrace the sounds of their adolescence instead of finding shame within them.

That feeling extends further than nostalgia, especially when considering where these bands are today. Instead of just providing the music they did when they were kids, the very stuff that lays a foundation for your future music taste, these bands are selling well, a decade after their mainstream explosions. They're actually bigger than they ever have been before. Most bands tend to peak and plummet, naturally; having a hit one year, slowly winding down and then powering back up roughly a decade later? That's basically unheard of...and feels unique to pop-punk at this moment.

Look no further than Panic! at the Disco, who released their fifth studio album, Death of a Bachelor, in January of 2016. It's an interesting album for a myriad of reasons—mostly that frontman Brendon Urie is the last original member left. He views it as a positive, and in many ways, it's easy to see why: He also seemed to be the guy to eclipse his own band's success. As of January 24, it's also the band's first No. 1 record, ever, earning 190,000 album equivalent units in its first week, with 169,000 in pure sales. That's Panic!'s best sales week ever, passing the No. 2 debut of Pretty. Odd. in 2008 with 139,000 copies sold. The new album's predecessor, 2013's Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!, started with 84,000 copies sold. Their debut album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, debuted at No. 13, to put it in some perspective.

Panic! isn't the only band to receive a second life. Fall Out Boy, too, are doing better than ever: Their 2005 debut From Under the Cork Tree peaked at No. 9, but the band's next album, 2007's Infinity On High, would give them their first No. 1. 2013's Save Rock and Roll would also top the charts with some help from the band's biggest single to date, "My Songs Know What You Do In The Dark (Light 'Em Up.)" It all led up to their latest LP, American Beauty/American Psycho, which gave the band their third No. 1 and even more stellar single sales: "Centuries" and "Uma Thurman" both became Top 40 smashes. In other words, they're doing better and selling more than the days in which so many casual fans believe was their commercial peak--their "Sugar We're Going Down" and "Dance, Dance" mid-00's infancy.

Another band from the quote-unquote "scene": Paramore broke the ceiling in 2007 with their single "Misery Business," but their 2013 album, the genre-bending self-titled Paramore, became their first No. 1 release with two of their biggest singles, "Still Into You" and "Ain't It Fun," the latter of which would win them a Grammy.

All Time Low, too, have become bigger than ever. The band might be best known for "Dear Maria, Count Me In" from their 2007 album So Wrong, It's Right, but their 2015 LP, Future Hearts, is their biggest full-length to date. If it wasn't for the fact that song streaming counts towards record charting, and the Furious 7 soundtrack with the massively popular single "See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth, ATL would've had their first No. 1 debut, too. No. 2 wasn't looking too bad in 2015, though.

Quantitatively, the bands so often condemned to a certain period of time, a certain '00s aesthetic, are actually doing better than ever before. There are a few reasons for that, and most of them exist outside nostalgia and mall punk revivalism. 

Panic!, FOB, Paramore and ATL are some of the last men and women standing: When this type of music was at its most commercially saturated a decade ago, there was a lot more competition. Right now, they're at the top and they're going to fight to stay there. 

There's also a difference in the kind of consumer supporting them now. These bands appeal to those of us who seek out alternative music while being anything but--they're huge. Fall Out Boy's last album sampled the Munsters' theme song and teetered the line between rock and pop with a certain cinematic ferocity. Paramore's self-titled featured soulful, almost gospel-like moments--extending their popularity far past the confines of rock and roll. Basically, if you can find a home in the heart of pop, rock and alternative fans alike, you're probably sitting pretty. 

Most importantly is the innovative spirit all of these acts possess. They change and evolve while staying true to what makes them, them. That's what keeps the die-hards entertained, and the casual fans invested. It'll be interesting to see if this tradition continues, but for now, we ask: My Chemical Romance, can you reunite already?