Continuing my series of song lists containing some of my personal favorite tracks of 2014 are a bevy of pop-punk love songs. Since the genre’s popularization in the early 2000s, pop-punk has produced tens of thousands of bands. This is one modern genre that isn’t afraid to dip itself head first into pure emotion, and the result is pretty great, coming in the form of hundreds of thousands of love songs that have the bands wearing their hearts- unapologetically -on their sleeves. From start-ups to breakups and everything before, thereafter and in between, this is a list of 20 pop-punk love songs released in 2014… so far.
Keep in mind that these tracks aren’t ranked! The numbers are used as organizational tools, and nothing more.
1. “Worth a Thousand Words” – Mayday Parade
A tried-and-true staple of the pop/punk industry, I’d previously awarded Mayday Parade an illustrious 5/5 for their epic 2013 effort, Monsters in the Closet. “Worth a Thousand Words” is one of three new songs released by the band so far in their 2014 version of the aforementioned full-length, and it’s totally representative of the pop-punk crème de la crème. It’s a love song with an epic buildup, unsure in its intentions’ being able to succeed yet as heartfelt in its plea as heartfelt can be with some great sonic instrumentation to go alongside it.
2. “The Most Beautiful Girl” – Masked Intruders
These guys are insanely dedicated towards producing the most authentic throwback punk experience imaginable, and it’s most certainly obvious on this blazing, ironic declaration of love. The traded vocals on this track add a doo-woppy flavor to the song, too, that’s pretty neat to hear.
3. “Color Me Sick” – World War Me
This awesomely entitled band just recently started up, with this rootsy folk/pop-punk hybrid acting as their first single. Everything about this track is idiosyncratic to the pop-punk revival of the modern scene, featuring instrumental undertones and a vocal tone totally unique to what the 2010s have managed to bring to music. In that sense, this is a refreshing addition to this list of pop-punk love songs; sonically different, yet still vibrantly emotional and honest in typical (and beloved) fashion.
4. “First Shot” – My Cardboard Rocket
Alexander Fenton and his new rock outlet dare to bring the “pop” to pop-punk with a pop! Apologies for that pun aside, “First Shot” features heavy synth and electronic influence while retaining a radio-friendly, punk-friendly composition and surprisingly hopeful lyrics that make this one of the indie releases of the summer, easily. Endlessly catchy and inspiringly upbeat in its declaration of love, this is a song that the modern pop-punk scene would eat right up.
5. “She Looks So Perfect” – 5 Seconds of Summer
You can’t really mention the modern pop-punk era without mentioning 5 Seconds of Summer. Many people largely agree that they’re one of the few responsible in the mainstream who’ve managed to bring back the stylings that we all know and love, and that’s just giving ’em credit where credit is due. Give “She Looks So Perfect” a listen and tell me that it isn’t an ironically (see: band name) perfect song for the summer in its lackadaisical, carefree delivery and sweet, laid-back love proclamation. Plus, it’s darn catchy!
6. “These Summer Nights” – Reverse Order
John Russo-Zirkel and friends have made a pretty neat album in the form of Made In America that really “gets” the heart of modern punk music incredibly well. If you haven’t yet, you should check that out. From off of that LP, “These Summer Nights” is a standout; impeccably catchy but not without charging an emotional and honest set of romantic lyrics alongside it. The feedback vocals are sweet!
7. “Gold Rush” – Knuckle Puck
Ever since their debut back in 2012, Knuckle Puck has been nothing but definitive of classic pop-punk. Their latest, “Gold Rush”, is no different, featuring painfully angst-ridden, yet earnestly reflective lyrics expertly told with a spitfire vocal and instrumental delivery. If you’re a fan of punk music- even a middling fan -you’d do yourself a favor to give this band a listen.
8.“Indebted” – Forever Came Calling
Passionate, upbeat and immediately affecting, Forever Came Calling is perhaps one of the most influential (and subsequently underrated) bands on the pop-punk scene today. Their 2014 single, “Indebted”, is a great introduction to the band, acting as a love song in a not-so-conventional way. This is all about owning your mistakes, finding your way and learning to love yourself in spite of a nasty breakup. Talk about empowering!
9. “Waiting In Vain” – The Story So Far
“Waiting In Vain” is actually more early 70s folk-meets-early 60s blues, but for a band that’s typically knees-deep in the punk industry, and being groundbreaking in that respect, it deserves a spot on this list. As a love song, it’s full of the angst over love we’d come to expect, but in a way, through its stripped instrumentation and perfectly imperfect vocals, somehow even more earnest than ever. A truly masterclass craft, here.
10. “The Edge” – Tonight Alive
An absolutely electrifying release by the little Aussie band that could. It’s such a killer, rebellious track that one can’t really depict how great it is by words. Do yourself a favor and listen to this insanely honest number, standing in the face of betrayal, A.S.A.P.
11. “Crawling Back To Me” – Jamie Alimorad
Though technically more musically adept across his debut release, Words Left Unsaid, to be called just a pop-punk artist, Boston’s Jamie Alimorad certainly got the punk attitude down-pat when he released the music video for “Crawling Back To Me” . Passionately and unapologetically in an ex’s face, this is one of the funner tracks present on this list. Fans of the early 90s punk scene may especially relate to the comedic camaraderie going on between Jamie, his human friends, and a particular chicken in the video.
12. “Vanitas” – Treebeard
Treebeard’s single from off of the We Are Triumphant Spring Sampler is pretty… pretty. Taking a more ethereal turn for the better, the band produces an epic ensemble of sounds much unlike anything that the pop-punk scene has enjoyed thus far. Pair this with gorgeously vivid lyrics and killer-edge idiosyncratic vocals and you have a winner.
13. “No More Bad Days” – This Wild Life
This Wild Life’s 2014 effort, Clouded , is full of acoustic soundscapes daring to challenge the quondam conventions of pop-punk to their very core. “No More Bad Days” stands out on the LP not just for its symphonic progression, but for its beautifully sincere, loving lyrics, told just as gorgeously by the band through their ability to convey emotion to an audience like that.
14. “Spend the Night” – Rick Rocker
“Spend the Night” is an insanely catchy, electrifying debut number for this up-and-coming rock star, stamping Rick’s mark on the industry as something palpable right from the get-go. If you’re up for a hopeful, dance-able love song amongst the angst, this could be your deal.
15. “Sixteen” – Real Friends
Real Friends write real good music. They have real lyrics and a real sense of delivery them with a really palpable energy that totally supports their really being real. “Sixteen” is one of their most real, painfully honest tracks yet, and a real introspective scorcher with real beautiful instrumentation to boot. It’s real regretful. It’s real remorseful. It’s real… great. Did you think I was going to say something else?
16. “Saviour” – Reachback
This UK pop-rock outlet has already achieved a far “reach back” into the industry as they’d garnered the attention of and even taken the stage with the likes of Mayday Parade and Forever The Sickest Kids. Their latest 2014 single, “Saviour”, featuring enough of a sonically-pleasing hook to keep your ears happy for days, exemplifies this to a high degree. The innocent call for a “saviour” through love is founded in the song’s lyricism, though the music video is especially engaging (and quite a bit more literal)!
17. “Lipstick Colored Magnet” – The Front Bottoms
Fans of 90s punk will feel right at home with this acoustic romper. Any comedic, in-your-face value that you had taken from certain songs released by bands like Blink-182 and Green Day back in the day are present here, but in a refreshingly new-yet-nostalgic style. It’s still a love song in its own right, in some ways, but it’s hilarious, and in that it’s great.
18. “Quietly” – Moderne.
Up-and-coming alt. outlet Moderne. dares to take its listeners back to the heyday of the pop/punk scene with a single incredibly reminiscent of the genre’s golden era between 2003 and 2007. Tight instrumentation and radio-ready, edge-pertinent vocals come together to form a top-notch production. This could only be matched by the song’s soaring emotion in which its subject matter looks back at a romantic situation gone wrong, pleading with their love to “take me back to what went wrong.”
19. “A Part of Me” – Neck Deep and Laura Whitehead
Ben Barlow has one of the more unique, heavy-edged vocal tones in the pop-punk industry today. Pair that with the soft urgency in Laura Whitehead’s gorgeous voice on the backing vocals on “A Part of Me”… Well, it’s achingly relatable, and one of my personal favorite love songs of the year, so far, myself.
20. “Windows In Heaven” – We Are The In Crowd
We Are The In Crowd came into their own this year with the release of Weird Kids, where they strip themselves of most conventional pop-punk material to deliver something passionate, unique and, most importantly, heartfelt. “Windows In Heaven” is their most emotionally affecting track, yet, dedicated to a lost loved one and highlighting just how important they were to frontwoman Tay Jardine’s life. You have to go out and give this one a listen. You will not regret it.
Musicians are more like you and me than you’d expect. We all have a passion that we chase, and music is theirs. Don’t discredit that by stealing their work. If you can, purchase their work in any format that you can in order to support them. If you can’t immediately, feel free to search up legal ways of streaming their album (e.g. Spotify). These pop-punk artists have arguably got a lot of heart, and if you’d like to see that heart on full display with more songs released from them in the future, you’d look into the kindness of your heart to truly support them. They deserve that respect.
Also see: 20 Indie Love Songs of 2014 (So Far)!