Lerner & Rowe Music News

The Year in Rock 2021: Is pop-punk back?


Warped Tour may have ended years ago, but pop-punk made a big return in 2021.

In late 2020, Machine Gun Kelly released his new album, Tickets to My Downfall. The record, recorded in collaboration with Blink-182‘s Travis Barker, found the former rapper embracing palm mutes and arpeggiated chords on hit singles including “Bloody Valentine” and “My Ex’s Best Friend.”

Kelly kept the pop-punk love-fest going into 2021 with the premiere of Downfalls High, a musical film based on Tickets. MGK described the project as a “pop-punk Grease.”

MGK also made headlines for his relationship with Megan Fox, as well as his feud with Slipknot, which led to angry metal fans booing him at festivals.

Similar to Machine Gun Kelly, WILLOW found success in 2021 with a new, pop-punk-influenced sound. The daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, known for her 2010 hit “Whip My Hair,” turned to the guitar for her new album, lately I feel EVERYTHING.

In addition to contributions from Barker, who guested on the single “Transparent Soul,” lately also included collaborations with the once-and-future Pop-Punk Queen Avril Lavigne.

Lavigne, who had been treading more in pop territory with her last few records, also made her grand return to pop-punk in 2021 with “Bite Me,” her first single on Barker’s DTA Records. Additionally, she teamed up with Mod Sun, who’d co-directed Downfalls High with MGK, for the single “Flames.”

Other pop-punk artists who rocked 2021 include Kennyhoopla, carolesdaughter, jxdn, nothing,nowhere. and LILHUDDY.

Meanwhile, pop-punk hero Mark Hoppus had a tough year in 2021, revealing in June that he’d been diagnosed with cancer. Fans rejoiced in September when the Blink bassist/vocalist announced that he was “cancer free” after months of chemotherapy.

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