The Seven Basic Pop-Punk Songs

You may or may not have heard of a book called The Seven Basic Plots. According to Christopher Booker’s enormous tome, there are only seven basic plots in all of literature, and that everything else is just a derivative from those plots. Well, I’m here to tell you that actually, there are only really seven pop-punk songs. You’ve been to a pop-punk show, you own a Blink-182 album or two. You know it to be true! So without further ado, here’s the seven basic pop-punks and how to spot them.

1. Hometown Blues, Thy Name is Ennui

The first, and possibly the most recognisable pop-punk song, is the one about hating where you come from. And is this not something we’ve all experienced, predominately when we’re about 16 and it feels like the whole world outside of our suburban hellholes is just waiting to be discovered? Plenty of people have made a lot of money writing about this kind of disillusion.

This pop-punk can be flipped on its head as well, and the common theme of ‘I left but dammit, I miss everything and I want to go home to my mum where everything is nice and simple forever’ isn’t exactly uncommon either. And just occasionally, you’ll find both sides slammed into the same song, which is really what it all ends up as when you’re a little bit older and wiser and not just pretending to be a teenager for the record label.

Top pop-punks: Simple Plan – I’m Just A Kid, Good Charlotte – Waldorfworldwide, Count To Four – Lavender Town (actually, this one is basically ALL of these pop-punks in one)

2. That Girl Ripped My Heart Out of My Chest and Pissed On It

Pop-punk found its roots in songs about girls. Descendents built pretty much a whole career on writing albums about their feelings, and Blink-182 perfected it on their classic track ‘Dammit’. And let’s face it, a pop-punk album wouldn’t be the same without a track about how a girl (or well, anyone really) totally broke the singer’s heart and how everything sucks.

Unfortunately, these days, there’s a lot of pop-punk bands who don’t know how to write about anything else, or how to acknowledge that actually, there might be some problems that are their own fault too and not just their lovers. Buuuuut sometimes, when you feel like you’ll be broken forever, there’s nothing like falling back on some good old-fashioned rage. It’s impossible to find a record that doesn’t have traces of heartbreak hidden all over it, or splashed wildly across it.

Top pop-punks: Real Friends – I’ve Given Up On You, Fall Out Boy – Sending Postcards From a Plane Crash (Wish You Were Here), Never Heard Of It – She’s A Dick

3. Positive Mental Attitude, Brah

Hey! Keep your chin up! Do something cool! It’s all about the PMA, dude. And pop-punk has got plenty of it. Far less anger about real important things than straight up punk, but with a sense of fun that punk can easily forget, pop-punk provides the great middle way, full of sugary, colourful fun. If pop-punk was a drink, it’d be orange soda, and not the diet kind.

These are my favourite kind of pop-punk tracks. They’re full of fun and life. These are the kind of tracks that pick me up when I’m down. They keep me on course, and they keep me thinking posi. And that’s what it’s all about. Keep it real, yo!

Top pop-punks: Millencolin – No Cigar, New Found Glory – Selfless, The Movielife – Me And You Vs Them

4. Hanging With The Bros Forever and Ever

It’s time to head out on tour and get crazy! There might lots of drinking, or even a few illicit narcotics, but there’s absolutely bound to be mad hijinks, skateboarding injuries and a prison trip. You guessed it – our next pop-punk trope is about hanging with your bros.

If there’s one thing pop-punk does well, it’s solidarity. All that bitching about your hometown and wasted opportunities just melts away into the background when your friends come into the mix. Just don’t forget that chicks can be bros too.

Top pop-punks: Set Your Goals – Summer Jam, Blink-182 – Reckless Abandon, Mest – Rooftops

5. I’m In Love and I Don’t Care Who Knows It

Of course, before all the torment and the heartbreak, there has to be love. And a good pop-punk love song has absolutely no competition. Pure of heart with loads of melody, you can’t help but feel swept up in a romance that isn’t even yours. And if you are madly in love, then every single song describes how you feel, because they’re way more real and appropriate than anything the Beatles did, or anything in a musical, right?

As one of the happier pop-punk tropes, it’s also one of my top ones. I’ve had a pop-punk romance playlist going since about 2005 and I’ve got no sign of slowing that down.

Top pop-punks: Sugarcult – Lost In You, Say Anything – Crush’d, Candy Hearts – I Miss You

6. I’m Just In Touch With My Feelings, Jeez!

Pop-punk can be deep too, you know. It can reach down into the very essence of human emotion and get all introspective and speculative. Don’t you even accuse it of being pretty and vacuous. Of course, it’s not as brainy as emo, and many of pop-punk’s graduating class (like Brand New, and if anyone says the first record isn’t pop-punk, I’ll fight you) have moved onto bigger, more serious art forms.

However, something neat tends to happen when pop-punk gets serious. Whether it’s battling personal demons, figuring out where it all went wrong or even just trying to decide where to turn to next, a lot of bands tend to turn out some of their best stuff when they start to think a little left-field. And that’s why we’ll never get a decent All Time Low record.

Top pop-punks: Descendents – When I Get Old, Amber Pacific – Follow Your Dreams Forget The Scene, Green Day – Redundant

7. I Hate Everything. Even That Puppy. And Your Mum.

Despite the assumption that pop-punk is a happy genre full of bouncy songs and floppy haircuts, it’s often filled with a lot of rage as we’ve seen above. However, a lot of the time, that rage is simply directed towards anyone and everything, because let’s face it – everything sucks.

Bands like Descendents absolutely own tracks like this, but they do it in a way that isn’t cliché or overstated, opting for a bit of humour instead. Of course, you can go the other way entirely, but virtually everyone knows ‘I’m Not A Loser’ and can’t remember the name of that song by those dudes who supported New Found Glory one time, so I guess they can suck it.

Top pop-punks: Say Anything – Hate Everyone, Descendents – Everything Sucks, Midtown – Empty Like The Ocean

Don’t get me wrong – for all my gentle mocking, I love a lot of pop-punk. But I’m yet to truly uncover a pop-punk track that doesn’t somehow fit into these broadly termed categories. Go on, pop-punk kids of the internet – prove me wrong. Write me a song that doesn’t fit into emotions typically associated with being in your teens or twenties. Or, if you’ve found another basic pop-punk trope, stick your answers on a postcard and email them to! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put the entire New Found Glory discography on repeat forever and ever and ever.

TwoBeatsOff’s Best of 2012

2012 has been a landmark year here in Britain. There’s been some major highs – the Olympics, for one. There’s been some shit stuff too – mass scandal everywhere. But one thing that can be said is that it’s been a fantastic year for music, both here and abroad. It’s also been TwoBeatsOff’s biggest year yet. So we’re doing a best of 2012; a comprehensive list of our favourite bits this year.


Best band: I was going to nominate a certain massive Welsh band, but that’s been a bit tainted with all the allegations going around at present. Instead, I’m going to go with one of the hardest working bands in the UK right now, and one of the most technically able. Chronographs have been working their arse off all year to put together one of the finest EPs I’ve laid my hands on in recent times. They’re incredible live, extraordinarily talented musicians for their age and are set for greatness. Recently signed to Ghost Music with their new EP coming out soon (check out our five star review here), 2013 will be where Chronographs truly hit the spotlight.

Best album: this year, my vote goes to Parkway Drive – Atlas. The Australian metalcore powerhouse have come out gold with an album that not only brings the beatdown, but some outstanding orchestral sections. It’s big in every sense of the word. I attempted to review it but essentially found my fingers going “hgrighdiogndrk” on the keyboard. Of course, mental keyboard spam is a general reaction to Winston McCall in my case, but it really just hit the mark on every level. And it managed to fully destroy the left speaker in my car because the breakdowns are just that tasty.

Best newcomer: For this one, my nomination goes to Good Friend. Even though they’ve only released one EP and not done that much else, I’ve not been able to stop listening to that EP all year. Nothing has made me grin more. If you’re a fan of stuff like The Lawrence Arms, Hot Water Music et al, then you’ll love Good Friend.

Best live act: It was a year of reformations, farewells and anniversaries on the live circuit. But of course, this one has to go to Refused. Seeing them reform and perform in London was not only one of the best nights of this year, but one of the best nights of my life. The Shape Of Punk To Come is almost fifteen years old, but is more relevant than ever today, and to see the legend that is Refused take to the stage once more is something that I will never, ever forget. Or likely experience again.

Best musical moment: I am awarding this one to Laura Jane Grace from Against Me! and the moment she announced to the world that she was transgender, and to the massive wave of support that she was given as soon as it all came out. While Grace’s bravery was incredible, it was just as amazing to see how supportive the punk scene – and the wider alternative spectrum – can be as well. Punk rock is all about being who you want to be, and it’s great to see that Laura Jane Grace feels free to let that happen. And now I’m ridiculously psyched for the new Against Me! album.


Two thousand and twelve will be remembered for many things- the downfall of Ian Watkins, the death of Sonisphere and the singer from Against Me!, who turned from a Mr to a Ms and sparked a worldwide gender debate in the process. It was the year metal opened its arms to pop and fully embraced the power of the hook with Torche and Baroness among others, subverting metal’s macho mannerisms and crafting albums of unashamed pomp and huge choruses. Billy Joe Armstrong conducted a very public PR stunt*cough-cough* stress-induced meltdown whilst drum n’ bass conquered the naysayers at Download Festival.

Two thousand and twelve was yet another year when some of the most influential bands decided to put aside their differences and finally cave in to the huge cheques being waved in front of their faces by promoters well aware that the reformation dollar is a very lucrative one indeed. Whatever their respective reasons, 2012 saw such luminaries as At The Drive-In taking a rather subdued attack to their intense post-hardcore whilst Refused finally did their seminal swansong The Shape Of Punk To Come justice and played to audiences hundreds of times larger than they did back in the day. Chris Cornell regained some credibility with the reformation of a grey-haired Soundgarden and the purveyors of doom Black Sabbath returned to spread the joy once again.

Best Live Band – Refused

I’ve seen so many great shows this year; chipping my tooth and suffering a very painful neck injury courtesy of a rather large stage diver at a particularly sweaty and chaotic Every Time I Die performance was definitely a night to remember. Meshuggah’s decimating and uncompromising aural assault in a large tent in a field in Kent at Hevy Fest was another. But the band who takes the biscuit has to be Refused. As they exploded into THAT riff from ‘New Noise’ at the London Forum in August there may well have been an earthquake occurring such was the seismic activity inside the venue. When the band played London almost fifteen years ago, they did so to only a few hundred people, and that was the biggest show of the tour. It speaks volumes of the bands impact on punk and hardcore and the high esteem in which they are held when, after almost fifteen years, they are selling out venues to thousands of people and playing to fields where the crowd stretches several kilometres into the distance. Yes, the reformation sparked controversy courtesy of the open letter they wrote to their fans after they split declaring that they were “fucking dead” but Refused’s classic punk message of anti-capitalism bears more relevance today than it ever did. What’s more, the band certainly knows how to put on a show, from the brilliant and highly effective use of minimalistic lighting to Dennis Lyxen taking on the role of showman rather than snot nosed punk. Through his physical contortions to his anguished scream and his mesmerizing onstage antics which usually end with the venue’s security looking rather nervous. Now though, the band truly is dead, but although the air of mysticism around the band has been largely eradicated, thousands upon thousands of avid fans witnessed their genius and the band’s message will live on for another generation at least.

Best Album – Deftones

There have been some great releases this year. South Wales bruisers Brutality Will Prevail’s threatened to become kings of the UK hardcore scene with their heavy as hell album Scatter The Ashes. Converge yet again upped the ante with All We Love We Leave Behind and Every Time I Die gave their southern fried hardcore a much needed shot of adrenaline to create the superb Ex-Lives. For sheer musical perfection though, Deftones finally crafted the album they’ve been trying to make for their whole twenty-five year existence. Although commonly and thoughtlessly lumped in with the nu-metal rap-metal nonsense of the late 90’s, Deftones were always a much more forward thinking and vastly more interesting and versatile entity. Koi No Yokan casts its net further afield than previous releases, pushing the bands experimentalist digressions to new depths whilst retaining cohesion and fluidity. The record contains some almighty off kilter 8-string riffs that would make Meshuggah jealous as well as vast soundscapes that range from the heavenly ethereal to the overcast doom. The balance between the decimating heaviness and breathtaking beauty is as close to perfection as you’re ever going to get, more so than 2010’s equally praised Diamond Eyes. Admittedly, the band aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel, but instead moulding their intensely emotional sound into a masterpiece that builds upon the successes and failures of their previous output. The most consistent band in metal just keeps getting better.

Best Newcomer – Darkshaft

You may have experienced this scenario – a gig in a tiny toilet venue on a desolate winters night in a dead end town where the few people in attendance look like they want to be anywhere other than this gig. Not even alcohol can curb your mind from wishing you were at home and curled up under a duvet like a slightly intoxicated baby. Without warning, a band takes to the stage and for half an hour they proceed to blow your socks off, as well as any other piece of clothing that isn’t securely fastened down. You stumble home trying to piece together what you’ve just witnessed, what’s more you struggle to remember the bands name, was it Darkcock? Darkschlong? ah yes, it was Darkshaft. The band is two guys, one on guitar and one on drums. Both posses screams Daryl Palumbo would be proud of and they boast a big back o’ riffs channelling everything from 50’s rock n’ roll to the sex-fuelled sweaty stomp of Death From Above 1979. Equally importantly, they posses an all important sense of humour oh, and they’re from New Zealand. They’ve only got a demo tape, a cassette, and a slightly punked-up cover of The Wonder’s ‘That Thing You Do’ to their name but with such virtuosic musicianship and beastly live performances expect to see heaps of praise for the demonic duo next year.

Best Band – Basement

2012’s best band is sadly one that doesn’t exist anymore. The UK underground was dealt a huge blow this year when Suffolk five-piece Basement decided to call it a day. This was even more so, because the band had just released Colourmeinkindness, a record of such creative brilliance and dare I say ‘maturity’ that it belied the young age of the band members, most of whom had only just reached their twenties. Their debut: 2011’s I Wish I Could Stay Here, won the hearts of kids throughout the underground with its wistful take on 90’s emo. After winning countless fans through touring places as far afield as the US and Australia it seemed the band were destined for great things and the speed at which the band’s two farewell shows sold out proved the amount of devotion the band had quite rightly garnered over their all too brief existence. Colourmeinkindness was a record of grunge throwbacks (the good type of grunge) and emo-isms (again, the good kind) that was not only heartbreakingly sincere but also wonderfully unique. As is the case when bands split up before they reach their creative peak there is an inescapable “what if?” that hangs over their dissolution. Certainly the band had the potential to graduate from the dingy toilet venues where they honed their sound and become a bonafied prospect on the UK’s rock scene. But lets no dwell on the “what ifs?” and instead celebrate a band who achieved so much in such a short space of time.

Best Musical Moment – Sabbath reign supreme at Download

The performance of rock legends Black Sabbath at this year’s Download festival was given added poignancy given that guitar hero Tony Iommi had been diagnosed with lymphoma only a few months previous to their performance. But in true metal fashion they soldiered on like the true rock Gods they are, producing a performance that belied not just their age but their collective drug consumption over their 40-or-so year existence. Ozzy, who by all accounts has defied medical science, was far from the shuffling and barely coherent star he is most known for. Instead his voice was powerful and his performance undeniably engaging whilst around him the two original members (minus drummer Bill Ward of course) provided their doom-laden take on blues, a sound which gave the world the blueprint for all of modern metal to follow. Sabbath are once again back in the public conscience as kings of heavy metal, and long may they reign.

Best Band – Green Day. While Billie Joe’s sad personal problems may have put a dampener on the end of their year, they went above and beyond in 2012 to make this the best year for the band’s fans it could possibly be, particularly us in the UK. Three (count them – 3!) new albums, suprise(ish) gigs at Shephard’s Bush Empire and Reading, and an under-appreciated but absolutely excellent debut UK tour of the stunning American Idiot musical, genuinely the best show I’ve ever seen.

Best Album – This is a tough award for me. Because, in all honesty, my favourite album released in 2012 was Weapons by Lostprophets, which is a controversial choice for obvious reasons. But while Watkins’ actions are to be abhorred, the other 5 members of the band should not be punished, and they have made a truly great album here. If this isn’t an appropriate choice for the award, then second place would go to Shinedown’s superb Amaryllis.

Best Newcomer: A combination of Brummie pride and pop-punk loyalty leads me to give this award to Taking Hayley. I honestly think that’s a name you’re going to hear a lot more of in 2013, particularly with their success at the UK Warped Tour and a headline tour already announced and selling well for February. Although an honourable mention must go to Fearless Vampire Killers – grandiose is not the word. Insane bunch, but fantastic music.

Best Live Act: Possibly another sentimental, Brummie choice from me, but having never thought I’d ever get a chance to see them in my lifetime, I can’t give this award to anybody except the almighty Black Sabbath. An incredible band making a much celebrated return this year, I saw them closing Download Festival and they absolutely blew me away, which is something considering my favourite band in the world, Metallica, had played the previous night. Their entire set, from their eponymous opening song to a thrilling Paranoid closer, was superbly crafted and Ozzy Osbourne is still the most incredibly entertaining frontman in music. Plus the mere fact that the performance took place after Tony Iommi’s battle with cancer was stunning and a wonderful moment for music.

Best Musical Moment: A pop-punk bias only gives me one possible answer: The announcement that finally, the UK was getting our own, proper, standalone Warped Tour date. Not as part of another festival, but a bonafide, independently organised, UK Warped Tour date. The organisation at the event, travelling between stages and rooms, was nothing less than awful, but that didn’t matter one bit – the atmosphere was incredible, the bands were brilliant (ignoring Blood On The Dance Floor, obviously) and New Found Glory were there. That’s all that matters. Superb news, and I eagerly await Warped Tour 2013 UK.

Reading Festival 2012 [Richmond Avenue, Reading]

Reading Festival has long been a staple of my summer. This was my fourth year running with a full weekend ticket and about my seventh year attending overall. Somehow, the summer just doesn’t feel the same without a trip down to Reading – usually, my dad drives us down and dumps us at the river, then we slog down to the campsite, set up shop and collapse with drinks in hand (or a Coke Zero for me, let’s be honest) until the bands start on Friday. This year, with the formula slightly altered – sister’s friends drove, all my friends bailed on me – I could just tell that things would be… different somehow. Well, apart from not having a real shower for five days – that’s always going to stay the same.

I kicked off my Friday with Deaf Havana (4/5) on the main stage. Despite already hitting the ciders, the band were on top form to open the festival. With a set comprised almost completely of songs from crowd-friendly but brilliant Fools And Worthless Liars, it was a tuneful, optimistic beginning to the weekend. Finally fulfilling one of their ambitions, as James Veck-Gilodi explained, it was great to see one of Britain’s most up and coming bands play to so many people that early on. Over in the NME/Radio 1 Tent, Hadouken! (4/5) set a completely different precedent to Deaf Havana. Ramping up the intensity to 11, Hadouken! came to party hard and didn’t disappoint. While I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of their recorded material, they’re simply exhilarating to behold on a live platform and the tent was packed – clearly an indicator of their well deserved status.

Back on the main stage, Coheed and Cambria (3.5/5) didn’t live up to the usual expectations. Of course, Claudio is a majestic beast on stage and with the original line-up back in place, it’s clear to see that Coheed are in a better place than they have been in a long time. And yet, the set they chose just wasn’t festival friendly and the crowd stood there for most of the time bored and listless. Nevertheless, when Claudio whacked out the double neck SG for Welcome Home, the energy that Coheed are certainly capable of when they’re in the right place was more than obvious.

A brief segway to the Alternative Stage saw us in the company of Adam Hills (4.5/5), that dead funny Australian bloke off Mock The Week. He was certainly onto a winner with his set at Reading, containing a few new gags that had me and my companions almost crying with laughter. With that new show on Channel 4, plus more TV appearances here, he deserves to be enormous.

The Blackout (4.5/5) simply never disappoint. Merthyr Tydfil’s finest delivered an absolutely phenomenal set, picking the biggest anthems from their back catalogue. Sean Smith and Gavin Butler are a joy to watch as they jump across the stage, chucking mics and screaming loud and proud. The Blackout display a passion that’s sadly lacking from so many performers, as well as a professionalism that’s nearly unparalleled. Don’t ever miss them if you have the opportunity to see them – it’s worth it for Higher And Higher alone. In comparison, You Me At Six (3/5) were suitably tepid. Josh Franceschi demonstrated some pretty killer screams, but the band have taken too much from the school of American bands, thanking the audience after every song. While the sound couldn’t be faulted and they certainly played their particular brand of pop-rock adequately, the performance just felt flat. You Me At Six aren’t exactly known for being risk takers and there was certainly nothing unsafe about their set.

The disappointments continued thick and fast with Paramore (2/5). There’s been a lot of drama following the band over the past year. The shock departure of the Farro brothers left them in a bit of a rut and they’re only just getting out of it. Despite Hayley’s protestations that the show was all about the band as a whole though, it was clearly the Hayley Williams show and very little more. Hayley herself is still struggling to strike the right balance between singing properly and shouting weirdly, which is a terrible shame considering the incredible quality of her live performance pre-Riot!. Of course, Paramore have come along a great deal since that time in one way or another, but for a musician so highly praised for her vocal ability, she just doesn’t cut it live. The rest of the band are background characters – what’s left of them, anyway. A completely safe and predictable performance, apart from bringing on a fan for the final chorus of Misery Business and truly, the final nail in the coffin for my interest in Paramore.

The Cure (3/5) didn’t exactly stop the disappointment train in its tracks. A firm favourite of mine since my teen goth days, The Cure are a British institution. They don’t know how to pick a setlist though. When they played the songs we all knew – Lovecats, Inbetween Days, Friday I’m In Love – we were enthralled. The Cure, even after all these years, are still breathtaking, but only when they’re playing the classics. Most of their set was comprised of stuff that I didn’t recognise or didn’t like because despite being able to write anthems, they also know how to create boring background tracks all too well and too many of those made an appearance in their set. The encore was the best part overall, with the crowd and the band really coming alive for songs like Let’s Go To Bed and Close To Me. It’s comforting to know that after all these years, The Cure can still play very well. It’s less so to realise that their idea of timeless and ours no longer correspond.

Saturday’s start was more than a little unorthodox, to say the least. Sat around the campsite, waiting for people to get ready, I get a text from a friend that says “Green Day are on NOW if you wanted to watch them”, so cue a lot of running, potential abandonment of dignity and plenty of swearing. When we finally get into the arena, they’d blocked off access to the NME tent anyway so we stood watching from the big screen. Green Day (5/5) themselves though were completely unforgettable. All the rumours about a Dookie-only set had gone totally out of the window, instead leading to something more along the lines of every single they’ve ever released, meaning some gems like Hitchin’ A Ride and When I Come Around got to make an appearance. Billie Joe Armstrong is as excitable as a toddler in a toy shop, darting around the stage with water guns and tissue cannons, picking up the cameras and exceeds every expectation. Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool are no less enigmatic and quite simply, Green Day’s refusal to grow up lead to one of the most exciting live performances of the weekend, even without us making it into the tent itself.

Mystery Jets (4/5) are always a pleasure. Their lovely indie-pop floated its way through the crowds during the one little bit of sunshine we had, making for a nice, chilled out set. Fan favourite Girl Next Door had virtually the whole field singing along. OFWGKTA (2.5/5) proved a lot more divisive. Odd is definitely the right word for the rap collective. While at times, Odd Future’s material can be insightful, intelligent and highly original, the set at Reading just displayed some badly timed raps and the weaker parts of their back catalogue. Far more impressive were Don Broco (4/5). The Bedford quartet had the Festival Republic stage completely rammed as they threw out anthem after anthem. The band are born performers and their catchy brand of alt-rock will take them far.

Enter Shikari (4.5/5) have been at Reading for the past four years running and every time, are met with adoration and total devotion to the art form that is the human pyramid. Even after the phenomenal success of A Flash Flood Of Colour, Enter Shikari still perform with the chaotic energy and style that they’ve been renowned for and though an ethical message was prevalent within the set, it was ultimately overridden by the biggest party vibe of the festival. The Vaccines (3.5/5) are not really party people, nor do they have a sense of humour quite like Enter Shikari. Nevertheless, their catchy indie rock is perfectly inoffensive and provided some good clean fun.

The final set of the day for me was that of the truly mighty Young Guns (4.5/5). With second album, Bones, the quintet have leapt from strength to strength and this is perfectly demonstrated in their live show. Gustav and co are charismatic and energetic, their songs emotionally charged and completely explosive. Young Guns truly are going to go atmospheric.

Sunday is generally the best day of Reading Festival. Well known for being the festival’s “rock” day on the main stage, the line up on offer this year was second to none on paper. Band Of Skulls (3/5), new purveyors of grungey garage rock, were fairly samey in places, although it is difficult to sound particularly innovative in that genre. Their too-cool-for-school look seeped through into their performance, which worked on a few levels (Effortlessly fashionable? Check. That kind of despondent movement you can only do with grunge? Check) but on others, was just a vague flashback to the 90s. Frank Turner’s new hardcore band, Mongol Horde (5/5) proved to be far more entertaining and diverse, despite the obvious draw from 80s hardcore. It’s hard to think that Frank Turner can be anything but the folk-punk troubadour he’s become these days, but as he leapt onto stage wearing nothing but a pair of cargo shorts, all and any expectations of what Frank Turner is or was can be safely tossed out of the window. He’s got some of the best damn hardcore growls in the business at the moment, his vocals perfectly fitting songs that owe a great deal to the 80s hardcore scene, as well as harking back to the melodic post-hardcore of Million Dead. More complex than the average hardcore outfit and yet gloriously brutal in places, Mongol Horde are really, really good.

Eagles Of Death Metal (4/5) were fun, plain and simple. Rock and roll, no questions asked. Even though I’m not well versed in their back catalogue at all, I still found myself singing along stupidly loud. They’re just that catchy. And yes – Jesse still has that handlebar moustache. Because that’s rock. So is high fiving everyone on the front row, stealing bandanas and trucker caps and causing mayhem before three o’clock in the afternoon. The Gaslight Anthem (4/5) were just as involving but in a completely different way. The success of American Slang and now Handwritten has made them household names and their place on the main stage has been assured. There’s never anything fancy about a Gaslight performance – just great songs played with passion. The Skints (4/5) are hardly strangers to passionate live shows and had the Lock Up tent fit to burst. Equal parts laid back reggae beats and furious ska punk, a large part of the set came from the stunning new album Part And Parcel. In particular, Ratatat sounded insane.

Until this weekend, I’d pretty much forgotten that Bullet For My Valentine (3.5/5) still existed. Fever was just so shocking, it was easy to forget that they’d written some blazing tunes in the past. Their set this year was a good run through of all the classics – ultimately a crowd pleaser. It was a little bit cheesy in places – can British heavy metal ever not be? – but they’re a good laugh all the same. Kaiser Chiefs (4.5/5) lived up to their reputation of being one of Britain’s best live bands in the past ten years. They know what the audience wants and they blasted through all the singles at lightning speed, ignoring any album tracks for the most part. Ricky Wilson is fearless in his approach, launching himself at cameras and diving off of railings. He makes for compelling viewing, but the rest of the band are just as cheeky and full of Northern charm. It’s impossible to walk away from a Kaiser Chiefs set without a substantial grin. The Black Keys (4/5) possess an entirely different kind of charisma, effortlessly leading the crowd through their catchy bluesy rock. While I think that the Kaiser Chiefs should have had a higher billing than them (but alas, the Kaisers have been featured in far less adverts), it’s hard to see how The Black Keys have slid under the radar for so long as they have. Nevertheless, a UK arena tour is happening and they’re finally getting the adoration they deserve.

Finally, after a long weekend, the Foo Fighters (5/5) took to the stage. Dave Grohl instantly holds the crowd in the palm of his hand with a “What’s up England?” and we stay there until the closing bars of Everlong. Even after almost twenty years as a band, the banter is still strong, the enthusiasm is high and everything is note perfect. The Foos are great songwriters, but also highly competent musicians and guitar and drum solos reign throughout the show. And it really is a show – there’s fireworks and paper cannons punctuating the set, but a balance is struck between arena rock posturing and a more intimate feel. Grohl dedicates songs to his mum and his adorable daughters, who are watching from the side and when he tells the story of his first Reading encounter before Times Like These, the thousands of people watching them that night feel closer to any band than they have all weekend, especially when joined in song. A few covers add some fun as well as some old gems like Generator and whether you’re a fan or not, it’s impossible not to be taken in by the sheer brilliance of the Foo Fighters. For rock fans everywhere, for music fans everywhere, the Foo Fighters are an essential part of your live repetoire.

And thus ended yet another Reading, on what we thought was an absolute high. We weren’t counting on the horrific six hour wait to get out of White car park. And as such, the experience was tarnished for me. Usually, Reading is the highlight of my summer and what was an incredible weekend was ruined by shoddy management. Only in England, eh? I think I’ll be giving another festival a shot next year.

[Pop-punk showdown] Green Day by ninthandash

Green Day have been my favourite band since I was nine years old. That’s a long time, and so I’m bound to be incredibly biased when I think that they are, without a doubt, one of the best pop-punk bands out there. A lot of people write them off after the release of American Idiots — “sell outs” is a term thrown around a lot.

To be honest, if Green Day have sold out, they did it with Dookie. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Green Day have one of the best discographies of any band, with barely a bad album in there. Warning is, to some people, a disappointment but I personally love it as much as any other.

Green Day have, for starters, catchy pop-punk tunes. They’ve produced classic songs known by practically everyone below a certain age. Excluding American Idiot (because Boulevard of Broken Dreams, while wellknown, was also undeniably overplayed), Green Day have Basket Case and Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).

I’m not articulating my feelings on Green Day very well, mainly because they’re a band very close to my heart. If you’re not persuaded how awesome they are yet, well, that’s okay. I’ll admit that I can — and will — do better.

With Green Day, for me, there’s nothing that can beat the feeling I got when I sat in front of the TV and heard Good Riddance for the first time. Say what you like about Green Day, love them or hate them, but there is something about that song… Haunting and nostalgic, all at the same time, it conjures up feelings and memories that you never knew you had. Billie Joe’s voice is at its best and it’s a song that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Compare that to the raw insanity of Basket Case, and immediately Green Day are not just a one trick pony. Their two greatest hits (again excluding American Idiot) are both completely different, and Basket Case encompasses the feeling that you’re going completely crazy and it doesn’t even matter. Best listened to loud.

But for me, the real gems of Green Day can be found in their albums. Take Worry Rock, from Nimrod. Another sentimal argument and bitter love/Fucked without a kiss again and dragged it through the mud. There is something about their ability to use the most rough phrases and contrast it with a catchy tune that gives their songs such an impact.

Like I said, it’s difficult for me to state objectively just how I feel about this band. Listening to their albums, I can trace different parts of my life. They’re one of those special bands which only comes along once in a lifetime. That said, I do believe that there will be at least one Green Day song for everyone.

If I haven’t convinced you of their sheer awesomeness, that’s okay. I won’t push it. But do me a favour. Pick up one of their albums and listen to it, all the way through. Open your mind and tell me there is not one song on there that you like. And once you’ve done that, I’ll call you a liar. Because I don’t think that’s possible.

What the hell happened to Green Day?

This morning, I stumbled downstairs, got myself a cup of coffee and sat down to MTV2 for five minutes of procrastination before I had to go and get ready for the day. It was on this very sofa that I am sat upon now that I first witnessed Green Day’s latest single, 21st Century Breakdown. And wow, did it suck. I’m not going to lie, I haven’t been keeping up with Green Day. After their second break into the mainstream with American Idiot (I’m also counting Dookie because it really did shoot them to relative fame, but not enough to ruin them), I was left disappointed and betrayed. It wasn’t a bad album entirely, aside from the singles, but it lacked that sense of fun I’ve always associated with Green Day. It seems that Billie Joe found some eyeliner and got all interested in politics and well, I’m sorry boys, but I just wasn’t that interested. This, coupled with that video where the kid goes to fight in Iraq and you’ve got Green Day being just a bit too serious. I don’t know about you, but I like my pop-punk with a sense of reckless abandon, thank you. 21st Century Breakdown is merely an extension of the political cry for attention, right down to the Banksy style video.

Quite frankly, it’s upsetting and unfortunately very typical of how most bands try and hit the right kind of ‘attitude’ once they hit the mainstream. 30 Seconds To Mars did it with title song A Beautiful Lie and that ridiculous video in the Arctic (isn’t having your band videoed ‘playing loudly’ on ice caps contributing to global warming?), NOFX did it with The War On Errorism and even Armor For Sleep tried it as soon as they got a little bit of recognition with third album flop Smile For Them. As soon as they can introduce a bit of politics into their work, you know a band’s got it made – well, as long as they aren’t a political punk band to begin with. My point being, Green Day were never political. Green Day were never serious. Green Day were never concerned with their hair. And now, all three of those dominate their music, and well… it sucks!

I decided that Green Day and I were no longer friends when I first heard The Saints Are Coming. The fact that they collaborated with U2, who are potentially the most safe and boring band on the planet, just showed that they had nothing of their former self left. I had stuck by them through American Idiot; I learnt to play Jesus Of Suburbia, I sang along to St Jimmy, but I mocked the very notion of the ‘rock opera’ they had put before us. I thought “Please, nobody but Queen can attempt anything as grand as that!” but no, Green Day gave it a go, and it tarnished what otherwise would have been a great album. Well, that plus the Iraq video. It’s not like Green Day aren’t allowed to be serious – one of the most depressing songs they’ve ever written, Redundant, is one of my favourite songs of all time – but come on, it’s not like they could ever inspire a teenage population to rise up and take on the government, and that’s all they’ve got backing them these days. The thing is, I want to like 21st Century Breakdown as an album. There are some standout tracks on it, like Lights Out, as directed to me by fightclubsandwich. It’s like, they’ve grown up, they’ve got better, and then they shit all over it with the singles they put out and the bland, generic riffs. At least each song used to sound a bit different, but now, I can’t tell the difference between half of their singles. 21st Century Breakdown in particular uses a real mashup of different styles in an attempt to make it more grandiose and it just doesn’t work. The oddly placed solo, the weird shift in tempo… it’s almost as if they’re trying to reinvent Jesus of Suburbia into a song that’s half the time.

I really hope that the next Green Day album is a return to form, I really do. I don’t want to end up hating these guys as much as I hate Fall Out Boy these days (that’s an article for another time) because I believe that Green Day can be good. Those hidden gems on each album are evidence of that. I just don’t want to have to search for diamonds in the rough any more.