What Happened to Punk Rock?


Nathan Ziebart, Sports, Polls

In the late 1970s, punk rock emerged as a “new wave” of rock, providing a fresh breath of air to a genre that was based off of guitar solos. Punk rock differed from your traditional rock ‘n’ roll in that it became based on pure, raw and driving songs, often played in only 3 chords. In a lead up to the birth of punk, many critics and listeners, such as John Holmstrom, founding editor of Punk Magazine, thought that, “the rock scene had become so tame”. Punk rock’s rebellious and sociopolitical lyrics made rock wild again.

Punk rock’s popularity rose rapidly, with bands like Sex Pistols and The Ramones, inspiring up and coming bands to shift to more of a punk feel. The 1980s fuelled punk rock to whole other level. While the late 1970s had a solid cult-like following, the 1980s brought punk rock to mainstream popularity; much to the dismay of the many original punk fans. Bands like the Clash and Nirvana kept the genre’s momentum going, but by the early 90’s the original feel of punk had changed, either to a heavier sound, almost metal like, or to more of a pop-punk style. Blink 182 and Green Day are examples of bands that were more appreciated by the general public, but looked down upon by punk rock devotees. Bands like the Foo Fighters, constructed by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl after the death of Kurt Cobain, were also easing themselves out of the old school punk feel; in the Foo Fighters’ case in the direction of alternative/hard rock.

By the early 2000s, punk rock was a dying genre, and as a result, many bands shifted to what is now categorized as emo. No longer were well known bands producing hardcore punk, but instead what was once punk had split into three different genres: pop-punk, emo and indie rock.

Presently, emo has died off, pop-punk has faded as a distinct genre, and indie rock is no longer associated with punk. No one has been able to rekindle the fire that was once punk rock. Punk rock was based on pure emotion, and whether that got repetitive or the bands that played it so well just grew up, it is safe to say that for the time being, punk rock is dead.