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Bubblegum Punk

by Jason Gubbels

Bubblegum Punk

About this playlist

The latest Australian pop sensation to invade the American charts is Sydney-based boy band 5 Seconds of Summer, a quartet of adorable mop tops who blend the teen fantasies of One Direction with the guitar crunch of blink-182. The result is a sugary confection of hooks and G-rated summer crushes -- just the thing to break grade-school hearts and infuriate punk purists. Call it bubblegum punk.

Still, punk fans shouldn't fear these light-as-whipped-cream interlopers, as our attached playlist demonstrates. Bubblegum punk has been around a long time (even the Ramones dressed in silly matching costumes and stole the chewiest hooks they could find from '60s pop), and a generous historical view might even locate the sound within such pre-punk chart toppers as the Bay City Rollers and The Osmonds, or the trash-glam hooks of Sweet and The Runaways. First-generation punk also offered plenty in the way of cuddly buzz-bomb choruses: The Rezillos, Adam Ant and early Billy Idol outfit Generation X were shameless in their pursuit of pop pleasures.

But bubblegum punk's real onslaught began in the mid-'90s, when Green Day and blink-182 hijacked alternative radio stations with insanely catchy melodies and thrash-pop guitar/bass/drums. From the juvenile depths of 1999's Enema of the State arose a community of teen punk acts so sugary they laid waste to an entire generation's insulin levels, from such bands as Lit and Fall Out Boy to the emo/mall punk crossover of Avril Lavigne and Paramore. Even Kelly Clarkson and Ashlee Simpson got into the act (Clarkson's 2008 "Whyyawannabringmedown" might boast the best riff on this entire playlist). Sure, all this stuff goes down way easier than anything by The Sex Pistols. But who ever said punk couldn't be strawberry-flavored?

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