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What 8 Pop Punk Bands Tell Us About Mental Health During Your Teen Years

This is a satire story.

This writer is not a mental health professional, and the contents of this story should not be regarded as fact.

Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

For some of us, it was just a phase. For others, it 100% wasn’t and it’s 10 years later and we’re still living out our favorite pop punk dreams, only now we’re the ones who are 26 and all the people we graduated with all have kids and wives and people who care if they come home at night… get the reference? Any The Wonder Years fans here? Maybe?

Anyways…

Pop punk was a major part of my adolescent teen years. I cried to so many bands over and over until I quite literally passed out on my algebra books, only to barely pass the next day (thank you academic trauma due to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and childhood abuse). I was the girl who made pop punk her entire personality in the most annoying ways, but I have a lot of great memories from it. 

Due to my copious amount of time crying to punk bands in the late 2000s slash early 2010s, I have to say I think I’ve become somewhat of a music slash mental health aficionado. Heavy on the “somewhat.” 

If you also made pop punk your entire personality, then you may recognize some of the bands on this list. Even moreso, you may have also had some troubling teenage years.

If you did, here are my assumptions as to how you handled your teenage trauma based on these pop punk bands.

Get your converses that are undoubtedly covered in Sharpie-written lyrics and your under eyeliner ready, cause here we go.

1. All Time Low

Had to start here because this was my favorite band. I saw them in concert as recently as summer 2021. 

If you primarily listened to All Time Low, you definitely had some things you were working through, but you still had this optimistic edge to you. All Time Low’s songs are very upbeat for the most part (minus “Therapy” or “Nightmares”) even when they’re sad. Did anyone else cry to “Missing You?”

So yeah, you went through some shit, but ultimately had hope in how things would play out. You maintained the unrequited hope and lust for better days, and who knows? If you haven’t found it yet, it’s probably right around the corner.

2. Modern Baseball

If you played Modern Baseball on repeat, you’re still probably depressed for one major reason — they disappeared after canceling their tour midtour in 2017 (yes, I’m still very upset about it). It was right before my concert date.

Modern Baseball has this “lazy” sound that I adore. They weren’t the type of lyricists that use excessive metaphor to paint a picture. Their lyrics are very up front and quite frankly, accessible which are perfect for the days you’re just that fucking done with everything and everyone around you. It’s blunt honesty, and that’s why if this was your favorite band you didn’t have the capacity to bullshit about your feelings to other people. You were (or are) depressed, and that’s a fact to you, not some objective opinion that toxic positivity can overwrite. Honestly, I relate. I could use a “Re-do” too (get it?). 

3. The Wonder Years

If All Time Low was “I’m not OK, but I will be!” and Modern Baseball was “I’m not OK and I don’t know when I’ll be,” The Wonder Years is “I’m not OK, and I don’t think I ever will be.” 

The Wonder Years are the complete opposite of Modern Baseball, in that they paint such lucid and beautifully tragic images with their lyrics. If this was your go-to band, you felt trapped, lost, and alone. Yes, you hated your hometown but you loved the friends that came with it. That being said, you still struggled to escape the emotional cocktail of failure mixed with anxiety at knowing what comes next for you, or wondering if you’ll ever live up to the visions that other people had for you. Your constant mental destination was lost at the intersections of “Who am I?” and “Who will I become?”

You’re still figuring it out. The cool thing about life is that it’s ever moving and ever changing. You don’t need to know where you’re going to get somewhere amazing. Promise.

4. Real Friends

I had to take a solid three minute break from writing this just to play “I’ve Given Up on You” which was my breakup song for my then super angsty punk boyfriend that I definitely should not have texted back in 2014. Oh sweet summer child, you’ll learn.

Anyways, if Real Friends was your go-to band I’d say you were a step above Modern Baseball but below The Wonder Years. You had some big feelings, this small glimpse of optimism for the future, but you were dramatically weighed down by the ghosts of your present (that was good, maybe I should ghost write for a pop punk band?). Real Friends always made me feel like I still had a fighting chance. “If you never break, you’ll never know how to put yourself back together.” Thus that optimism I’m talking about. 

So yeah, you were down and out, but not for good. Never for good. 

5. Pierce the Veil

If you listened to PTV, you had some dark ass days as a teen. I remember during my darker teenage days, these guys got a lot of play on my iPhone 5S. Given that this band has lyrics that do reference self-harm, that may have been something you struggled with. You had some dark thoughts (maybe even suicidal ideation). Not that these bands weren’t a warm blanket for a lot of us, but there’s something so specific about PTV in the way they served their listeners. Music heals, and this was one of the ways that you found healing. 

“Bulls in the Bronx” still slaps. Hard.

6. Mayday Parade

You liked to cry, huh? Like that was just your pastime. You really put crying as one of your hobbies on those group questionnaires at camp when they asked what you did for fun. 

If this was your favorite band, you were typically in your feelings because of your relationship life (or lack thereof completely). Taking a guess here, but I’m going to assume that if you weren’t in a relationship constantly, love was that thing you were looking for because you were incredibly lonely. Mayday Parade’s songs gave you something to aspire towards on both ends. To quote my favorite movie “Moulin Rouge,” “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return,” and that’s basically what these songs made you feel.

You are loved regardless of whether it’s romantic or not. That’s a lesson you’d have to learn, or that you may still be learning right now. 

7. My Chemical Romance

You were the artsy high school teen that felt so misunderstood, when in reality you were low-key a little pretentious, why lie? My entire friend group were MCR fangirls so I think I can say that.

That being said, you processed your mental health through expressive things like theater, art, written word, etc., and you had a lot to get down. MCR created a lot of high concept albums. Yes, every band has a general vibe or theme, but MCR was one of the groups that fused music and illustration in such beautiful ways. 

You were trying to find yourself in a world where you didn’t quite feel like you felt in. You were loved, but didn’t always feel that you were. I will say, if MCR was your favorite it wasn’t just a phase because they’re releasing new music and it’s breaking the internet as we speak.

8. Paramore

First, I’m sad we won’t ever get “Misery Business” live again either. I get it, but also, damn.

If Paramore was your favorite band, you had taste. Incredible taste. Also Hayley Williams is such a great human being.

Anyways, this one has a bit of personal bias because of how often I replayed “Misguided Ghosts” and the rest of “Brand New Eyes.” You were angry, but also a little lost and trying to find your place in the world. More than that though, you were reeling from someone hurting you, and hurting you bad. You had trust issues and so badly wanted to be seen but you felt like cellophane. 

Really hoping you don’t still feel like that, and if you do I promise you really are seen, heard, loved, and your emotions are valid.

Pop punk and punk in general was my entire life at one point. It’s been a while because beyond a few of these bands, I forgot a lot of the themes that they carried which I suppose is good because that’s growth. I remember feeling so lost, hurt, and confused as a teen and looking back I lived through all of my hardest days then, and I’m somehow making it through my much harder days today. Granted it’s mostly due to spite and having to be someone my dog looks up to, but hey, whatever works.

And remember kids…

Pop punk isn’t dead. Emo is forever. Tip your merch guys and stay out of the pit if you can’t handle it. My knees and back can no longer handle it, so I’ll see you near the bar.

LEad image courtesy of Hopeless Record’s YouTube channel

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