Delineate types of punk music

By Ron, Everett Public Library Staff

I became fascinated with the definition of punk rock. There is no doubt that the term was first applied to groups of the same ilk as the Sex Pistols, but over time punk has become an umbrella term for a variety of styles.

You have your hardcore, your horror punk, Oi!, grindcore and pop punk to name a few. And you can’t identify your gender without a dashboard. So, in the interest of understanding the genre properly defined (PDGU), I give you: SOME TYPES OF PUNK MUSIC!

Punk: ClassicPunk® bands, also known simply as punk bands, play fast-paced rock and roll. Not so different from 50s rock, add distortion and politics, shake it up, go heavy on the melody and voila!

Hardcore: A response to what was considered the selling off of punk. Fast, strong, aggressive and punchy. Rhythm is more important than melody and vocals are usually shouted. The standard verse-chorus structure, a staple of punk, is not used.

punk horror: A highly visual subgenre steeped in horror and science fiction film imagery. Goth and punk elements mingle with doo-wop and rockabilly, creating a unique sound.

pop punk: Punk has never been commercially successful. Until someone thought of adding nice melodies to fast and furious music. Hey, sounds a bit like ClassicPunk®, doesn’t it?

But wait, there’s more! Crust, thrashcore, anarcho-punk, D-beat, stenchcore, powerviolence… It kind of makes a person want to create their own subgenres: sniffletrot, bonesaw-crunch, free retch… Ah, I see a hobby in my future.

But I digress.

What I want to say today, if I do have a point, is that the term punk has changed meaning over the years. The original punk bands, i.e. ClassicPunk® bands, are not significantly removed from the mainstream of rock music. Hardcore bands, on the other hand, are a whole different beast. Aggressiveness, screams, dizzying speeds combine to form a new type of musical expression. And in my mind, if not in the minds of others, punk has come to mean hardcore punk.

So while I struggled for many years with the label punk applied to bands like the Buzzcocks, I now realize that their 3-minute songs about teenage angst, love, and fast cars are all gorgeous pop gems that we’ve just decided to call punk. And while there may have only been one flavor of punk for a short time, now there are many. To be completely clear, we must mention what type of punk music we are talking about.

So be the coolest kid in your neighborhood and check out a horror, crust, or gore punk festival (I made that one up!) at the nearest public library. Remember: leather jackets are optional, but open-mindedness is mandatory!

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Diana J. Carleton