‘The News’ on pop-punk’s return


By Brianna Mack
March 4, 2023

Fall Out Boy performing in 2014. Photo by Stefan Brending via Wikimedia Commons.
Fall Out Boy performing in 2014. Photo by Stefan Brending via Wikimedia Commons.

Paramore’s sixth studio album “This Is Why” debuted at number one on Billboard’s Top Rock Chart on Feb. 22, setting a promising precedent for Fall Out Boy’s eighth studio album release on Mar. 24. It’s been six years since either alternative band released music. 

“I’ve been listening to [alternative music] since about elementary school, middle school-ish because I grew up listening to old-school rock and just rock ‘n’ roll in general,” sophomore writing and narrative arts major, Victoria Rybakowski said. Despite the genre’s unique sound, she connects to punk lyrics the most. 

Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is another celebrated face of 2000s female-led rock bands. Photo by Diego Vigueras from Wikimedia/Creative Commons.

“[Paramore] was the first one that I was introduced to. I thought that it was really cool that a woman was the lead singer when, at the time, not many women were lead singers for bands, especially heavy metal rock bands,” Spang said. Paramore’s success quickly made lead singer Hayley Williams the face of 2000s female-led rock bands.

“I gravitated more towards My Chemical Romance,” freshman writing major, Ruben Bonilla said. “I don’t really consider myself, like, ‘emo,’ but I did like the songs that they made.” He identifies “overcoming” sadness and adversity as relatable themes in their music. 

Paramore, Fall Out Boy, and My Chemical Romance experienced major success in summer 2005 after Vans Warped Tour, the annual traveling rock festival. Fall Out Boy announced their official hiatus in 2009 citing burnout from overwork. They returned in Feb. 2013 right before My Chemical Romance split that March due to feeling obsolete and disconnected from each other.

“The fact that they’re coming back is really cool, especially since when Warped Tour went down all of the emo bands just died out,” senior graphic design major, Misty Spang said. Paramore announced their hiatus one month after the summer festival ended its 25-year run, officially bookending the steady decline of pop-punk.  

Prioritizing mental health

“I wish they didn’t get as much hate as they did,” Rybakowski said. As punk faded from popular music, stigma around the culture returned. 

“Emo was not very mainstream at the time. Like, if you were caught listening to it, they would say you’re weird or stuff,” Bonilla said about listening to alternative music in middle school.  

Hayley Williams sings at Warped Tour in 2007. Photo by Phillyist from Wikimedia/Creative Commons.

“I joined a new school and I was kinda like the fresh meat,” Rybakowski said. “It helped me feel like everything will be okay.” Each band’s return is marked by mental health advocacy, though their fans already understood that stance based on punk’s unfiltered lyrics, such as, “a life that’s so demanding/I get so weak/a love that’s so demanding/I can’t speak,” from My Chemical Romance’s “Famous Last Words.”

“It’s definitely great they’re still preaching the message,” Spang said about Paramore. Spang admires Paramore’s ability to inspire global introspection and connection in their recent song, “The News.” Hayley Williams sings “every second, our collective heart breaks/all together, every single head shakes/Shut your eyes, but it won’t go away/(Turn on, turn off, the news).” 

Fall Out Boy bassist Joe Trohman stated on social media that he won’t immediately return to the spotlight due to “deteriorating” mental health. My Chemical Romance’s lead singer Gerard Way said on “My Turning Point” that “mental health reasons” were why he strayed from music. He expressed on the podcast how the time away increased his gratitude for the band. 

“They’re both great bands and they still spread the message that I was saying earlier that Paramore is still preaching as well,” Spang said. 

Entering their comeback era

“I feel like when they come back, they might have their sound reinvented in a way to meet the audience of today,” Bonilla said about My Chemical Romance. Their first single in six years, “The Foundations of Decay” echoes their notable sound and invites new fans to settle into the angst. 

“Maybe it will be well-received, maybe it won’t. Maybe they’ll think it was better back then,” Bonilla said. The success of Paramore’s Feb. 10 release suggests that popular music wants punk to return. Fall Out Boy’s eighth album “So Much (for) Stardust” releases later this month. 

“I think they’re still relevant. I don’t think they were ever not relevant,” Rybakowski said. 

“Only time will tell,” Bonilla said. 

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Brianna Mack

Brianna Mack is a communications/music industry and business major. Her love of reading, writing, and music blossomed in middle school by writing short stories for class and joining the choir. She started writing for news and was one of the first participants in the choir during her freshman year of high school. In her junior year, she took a course that inspired her to learn intense research methods. These methods apply to the ways she prepares every article and essay that she writes. She enjoys her work in the Writing Center as a peer tutor because she has always loved writing. She is the president of the XMusica Society, which is the presenting organization on campus. Brianna has two younger siblings. She commutes an hour to school every day, is an active member in her church, and helps facilitate a bible discussion group at Swarthmore College.

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