We’re kicking off Punk Week here at Consequence with a guide to the genre. Keep checking back throughout the week for interviews, lists, editorials and videos — it’s all things punk, all the time. You can also pick up our new “Punk Is Dead, Long Live Punk!” T-shirt at the Consequence Shop.
Punk is a genre born of rebellion and conflict, and there’s no way to define it without inspiring fevered debate. From the moment “punk rock” made the jump from a phrase occasionally thrown about by rock critics like Dave Marsh and Lester Bangs to a real genre, there have been constant battles to separate real punks from posers.
But authenticity is overrated — even the one band that everyone can agree epitomizes punk rock, the Ramones, used stage names. Some bands stuck to the “loud fast rules” ethos but abandoned the DIY spirit, while others kept the punk spirit alive while borrowing rhythms and tempos from reggae and other genres.
Over the last five decades, punk has died and been reborn many times over, and even in 2021 it continues to spin off viral hits as well as unlikely pop-punk crossover moments from rap star Machine Gun Kelly or show business scion Willow Smith. But let’s look at the big picture, 10 songs that trace the unlikely and shockingly varied path of a genre that has room for both Bad Brains and Green Day.