“Punk happened, past tense.” That’s what Boomer-era critics and true-believer punks told the younger generations. Punk’s whole reason for being was rejecting the mainstream. But punk wasn’t just a movement—it was also a genre. And 20 years after it first emerged, punk went from underground to overground, dominating the radio for the first time.
In this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy traces how punk traveled from Sid Vicious to strip mall, through the lineage of ’90s bands Green Day, Offspring, and Blink‑182, and ’00s emo artisans Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, and their skinny jeans–wearing, smarty-pants contemporaries. From the CBGB era to the current Billboard Hot 100, punk is no historical artifact—it’s still morphing and adapting. And for all its supposed opposition to convention, the dirty little secret is: Punk has always been catchy.
Podcast production by Asha Saluja with help from Rosemary Belson.