by Rowan Bagley
One of my favorite songs when I was nine or so was “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways. I listened to it to a point that, when I was older, my dad would set it as my custom ringtone in his phone. After that, it was “I Wanna Be Sedated” by The Ramones. Years later, it would be “Rebel Girl”, “Celebrity Skin”, and “Only Happy When It Rains” as I was introduced to the Riot Grrrl and Queercore movements of the 1990s. Regardless of my age, I’ve always been drawn to the harsh lyrics and political messages of the punk rock music scene.
The Kinks. The Velvet Underground. The Clash. The Runaways. Bikini Kill. L7. Green Day. Born out of garage rock in the 1960s, punk rock has evolved and diverged into the complex sub-genres that make up the current punk scene. Forever rooted in rebellion, the genre that we now know as “punk” came out of the desire to draw attention to societal oppression, political unrest, and ideals of conformity. Regardless of the sub-genre, modern punk artists still create their art with anti-establishment lyrics and hard-edged musical styles. The messages of riot and rebellion that groups like The Runaways and The Who have screamed into their beer-scented microphones have always resonated with me in ways that more polished genres of music have not. Modern punk has changed significantly from what can be called “First Wave Punk”, but the raw artistry is still there.
In this blog series, I will be looking at the history of punk, specific artists and songs (both quintessential and relatively unknown), the genre’s effect on political movements, the differing sub-genres, and even the origins of some of the iconic punk “looks”. Brit punk, alt rock, new wave, anarcho-punk, pop punk, the list goes on, but I’ll be touching on all of them and hopefully giving you some new riot anthems in the process.