Punk music is usually defined by power chords, raw vocals and high energy performance. Punk rock is the best music ever created. It is, in short, a thinking man’s rock music. And to some, it’s like God himself ordained punk rock as His preferred music of choice. Why? Because it’s just that good. Hundreds of faithful teens and twenty-something adults pack themselves into basements shows like sardines in a tin, just to have their holy gospel delivered to them by guys with names like “Johnny Rotten,” “Justin Sane” or “Davey Havok.” Punk rock is the best musical style for numerous reasons. The reasons might seem simple, but the difference between punk and mainstream music is that punk is just better. It’s clever, thoughtful and passionate. On the other hand, Brittany Spears and the rest of the MTV pop brigade are just dull, witless morons trying to see who can be the biggest whore on television.
Punk is written with a purpose. A message is behind every heartfelt yelp and strain of the vocal chords. Lyrically, it is about more than just a high school romance. It deals with real issues in an honest fashion. The punk movement began in England as a medium for overly zealous political patrons to preach their messages of anti-conformity and anti-government to the faithful gathered at their shows each night. In their first single, “God Save The Queen,” The Sex Pistols were telling the youth of England that the Queen was a fascist and inhuman. The Sex Pistols also reacted to the stark social conditions that infected Great Britain in the late seventies: rising unemployment, a hard-line, conservative government, and a depressed post-industrial economy. With a hopeless future at the horizon, the restless youth in Britain had plenty of things to get angry about.
The Sex Pistols embodied the anger and restless ambition. The Ramones, The Clash, The Dead Kennedys and the other punk bands of the late 1960s were all making their political claims. As time went on, there have always been punk bands to carry the torch. In recent years, bands like Angelic Upstarts, Drop Kick Murphy, Flogging Molly and Anti-flag have all had political messages. There is no shrinking to the sidelines to croon love songs and high school graduation themes. That certainly does not mean that all punk rock is political. It just means that punk rock has always been thoughtful and fully aware of what goes on in society, and that awareness has been reflected in the music.
Anti-conformity has always been a prominent thread running through punk. The unofficial creed has always been that to truly define yourself you can’t be like your parents or your friends. You have to be yourself and to cut yourself out of stone. Each punk band you ever encounter will be slightly different from all the others. Some bands are lyrically different for their song lyrics, some for their guitar chords, and some for the theme of their music. But whatever the music is about, you can always be assured that it will be high energy, raw, and honest. The artists always tried to reinvent their performance to be new, and something that no one else had. Often the bands sing lyrics with a whiney and sneering vocal quality, delivering their message with twisted sarcasm and in addition, singing out of sync at times, adding to the chaotic sounds already produced by the other instruments.
In closing, punk rock was never made to be sugar-coated background music supplied by MTV for the masses. It was never meant to be harmless, bland, complacent or
ready made for mass consumption. Punk rock is about the message. And now it seems that because the industry has decided to re-package punk as something fresh and new and as a happy-go-lucky-be-my-girlfriend-or-I’ll-cry phenomena, there are millions of teens and twenty-something adults thinking that they are punk rockers because they can go to any Hot Topic in America and buy their new punk identity for $49.99 plus sales tax. In reality, these kids find the true original punk ideals and ways of life just as shocking as the establishment did in the 1970s. This is not to say that there aren’t any good new modern punk bands around, because there are. You just won’t find them on MTV.