Punk sub-genres and the bands associated with them
Playlists with Titles including the Word 'Punk' and the Bands that Appear Most Often
These are the most common bands appearing on playlists titled “punk." I also examined playlists from other sub-genres (e.g.,, , , etc. explorable in the toolbar above the chart).
There’s no other band as pervasive on punk playlists as Blink-182. Of the thousands of playlists that I found titled “punk” on Spotify, Blink-182 is on half of them. More often than not, Blink-182 and “punk” are synonymous.
Bring Me The Horizon
Not sure whatsounds like? Bring Me The Horizon, who’s on a third of metalcore playlists, is a good candidate.
For hardcore, it’s the complete opposite: no one band dominates. While Agnostic Front appears most often, it’s only at 12% of “hardcore” playlists. Perhaps that’s why hardcore has so many sub-genres: there’s a need for further categorization due to a wide gradient in sounds associated with the genre.
Some genres are stuck in time. For playlists titled with "post-punk," there’s remarkable agreement: Joy Division is synonymous with the genre (>30% of playlists). Coined almost forty years ago in 1977, the identity behind post-punk has stayed consistent (Joy Division formed in 1976).
Bands and their most popular punk genres
Fall Out Boy
Genre-titled Playlists on which a Band Appears Most Often
Next, I wanted to know the most common genres associated with a band. For example, is Fall Out Boy mostly associated with emo or punk?
First, I scoured the Internet for genres, finding over 100 words with roots in punk such as "emo," "2 tone," and "new wave."
Many of these words are falling out of use. “Riot Grrrl” denotes an underground feminist movement in hardcore punk during the early 90s, but only 2 playlists exist for Riot Grrrl on Spotify. “Cowpunk” was coined to denote country + punk fusion. But it’s very difficult to find in modern usage.
I focused on punk-related genres with at least 500 playlists across Spotify and YouTube. This narrowed down the genre list to 22 words that are still used today and understood colloquially.
Genres have varying definitions because they have evolved over decades.
“Emo” has changed from emotional-core to emocore to emo (and now other derivatives, such as screamo). That’s 25 years for the label to be rejected, embraced, and reshaped by both bands and fans.
In the US during the late 70s, the record industry insisted that the punk scene be rebranded as “new wave” – punk had negative connotations with drugs and violence, which potentially meant weaker sales. There’s nothing intrinsically “new wave” about The Cure (the most common band on “new wave” playlists), except a contrived marketing campaign.
This all makes a band’s “genre” classification liable to shift over time. Is the Talking Heads new wave or punk? Is Fall Out Boy pop-punk or emo? It depends on what era’s definition you’re using.
What is Punk?
Fall Out Boy
In 2015, the data suggests that Fall Out Boy’s genre is a spectrum of emo, punk, and pop-punk. It also suggests that the lines among these genres are blurring. It’s evolution, and in 20 years we’ll likely look back at Fall Out Boy as a pillar of the genre, relative to whatever the kids are calling “punk music” in 2035.
Bring Me The Horizon
There’s even more genre-blurring with Bring Me The Horizon. They appear more often on post-hardcore, metalcore, and screamo playlists than any other band. That’s three, seemingly distinct genres.
No Doubt , once a breakthrough success for ska punk in the 90s, is barely referenced on punk playlists today.
Finally, the Ramones are labeled as “punk,” above anything else.
This isn't a perfect representation. For example, there’s been plenty of confusion about how to define “metalcore” (some people use the word very broadly), and I’m reducing its definition to what a broad, young, digital audience thinks it entails, ignoring whatever historians, music critics, or Wikipedia believe.
And that’s the point: genres exist entirely in our heads. Debating whether band X is or is not genre Y always leaves me feeling a bit stupider, because they’re glorified hashtags. We like to think of punk and its sub-genres as defined by specific scenes and movements. When bunch of kids call Blink-182 "punk music," it seems like sacrilege.
Part of punk culture, from the beginning, was that it was undefinable. This data helps us quantify the vast disagreement surrounding punk’s meaning and the subjective nature of genres. Instead of debating why people are “wrong,” we can begin to ask why the identity of “metalcore” has somehow fixated on Bring Me The Horizon. Or why post-punk, after 30 years, is still attached to Joy Division.