Pop and punk have had their fair share of disagreements. After all, “God Save the Queen” took aim at Rod Stewart as much as Buckingham Palace. Back then, in the time of mohawks and leopard print, the line between those two genres was clearly drawn. In one corner, you had Motown, “Hotel California” and John Travolta’s slick-ass disco strut in Saturday Night Fever. In the other, CBGB, “Blitzkrieg Bop” and Iggy Pop, the shirtless miscreant who once bled all over the stage after a stage dive.
But as pop and punk wrestled for control of the airwaves, that line was crossed time after time. Punk’s new wave cranked out more synths than power chords. Meanwhile, the Catholic church was less concerned with Bad Religion than they were stopping Madonna. By the end of the century, it was hard to tell the two sides apart. Sk8er bois and dudes with socks on their cocks had joined forces with TRL teeny-boppers. Heck it wasn’t some snot-nosed outsider messiah that finally brought guitars back to the radio. It was a Disney Channel star.
To try and sort out the tug of war that is pop-punk, I called Nishat Ahmed. As you can see, Nish wears many hats. He’s published poems about Fall Out Boy and covered Kacey Musgraves with his band Ocean Glass. He also happens to be my only friend who’s under 30, which means he can teach an old dusty fart like me how to record a podcast.
Here’s how ours works: It’s called Pop vs. Punk. Every episode has its own theme. Nish and I each pick one album to talk about. One of us goes pop, the other goes punk. We talk about the stories behind both albums, what they say about pop culture, and how they’re both similar and different. Once that polite discussion is over, we take off the gloves and pit our albums against each other across a bunch of different categories that cover everything from album art to track sequencing all the way down to the closing song. Whoever wins gets to pick the theme for the next episode.
You can now listen to the entire first season on Spotify or Anchor. There’s also a little playlist down there at the bottom of this post with our favorite songs from all six episodes. Listen in as Nish and I butt heads over the albums that made us fall in love with music and each other. We also talked summer blockbusters, hidden gems, old favorites and new discoveries. Sometimes, I even let Nish talk. There were some albums that were clearly better than others. But there were also some surprisingly close calls.
We really hope you like Pop vs. Punk. Because we’re already working on season two.
- Episode One: Be Not Nobody vs. Take This to Your Grave
- Episode Two: Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides vs. Brave Faces Everyone
- Episode Three: Liz Phair vs. Blink-182
- Episode Four: Un Verano Sin Ti vs. Let’s Promise to be Happy
- Episode Five: Life is Good vs. The Hum Goes on Forever
- Episode Six: Palomino vs. See You in Chemistry
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