Best Pop-Punk/Emo Bands of Late '90s & Early 2000s (2023)

Is it punk or is it pop? Is it emo or does it just suck? Regardless, that sweet decade between the late ’90s and early 2000s brought us some of the catchiest songs in recent rock n’ roll history. Who stood out amongst the sea of Hurley-wearing, black nail polish-painted musicians? Find out below.

A-F

Alien Ant Farm

Straight up,Alien Ant Farm is one of the most underrated bands of the pop-punk movement. Granted, they always had a rockier edge, but I still stand by the fact that Anthology is one of the best albums of all time. Forget about their cover of “Smooth Criminal,” that album has so much more than that: “Movies”; “Stranded”; “Sticks and Stones”–I could go on. The California rockers are currently working on Always and Forever, their first release since 2006.

Alkaline Trio

Alkaline Trio is one of those bands that you instantly connect with, even though most of their lyrics circle around deep depression, alcoholism, and ill-fated love. I guess as a 16-year-old in a small town everything kind of feels sh*tty, so maybe the attraction to songs like “’97,” “Cooking Wine” and “This Could Be Love” make sense. But imagine my surprise upon my 27-year-old self listening to “My Little Needle” and finally realizing it was about heroin. For the record, I still stand by the fact that Good Mourning is one of the best albums in rock n’ roll history. I also still stand by the fact that Matt Skiba is sexy as hell.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnMuzvwbXQ0

The Ataris

Most people who were around for the height of The Ataris‘ fame know them for their hit cover of Don Henley’s classic, “The Boys of Summer.” But real fans of the Midwestern alt-rock group know them for songs like “I Won’t Spend Another Night Alone,” “How I Sent My Summer Vacation,” and that snippet of audio during Blue Skies, Broken Hearts… that introduced us all to the movieA Bronx Tale.

Blink 182

There was no way I was going to make a list about best pop-punk bands of the ’90s and not include Blink. I refer to them on a first name basis because we kind of have a thing going… I mean, I do have their punk bunny sitting permanently on my left shoulder. For as much flak from the punk community that this band has taken, they’ve also had just as much praise. Responsible for ushering in a new blend of pop-punk, and for introducing me and countless other young teens to a new world of music other than N’Sync and BSB, it’s safe to say that Mark, Tom and Travis have earned their keep inmusic history books.

(Video) 2000s Pop Punk Hits Mix 🎸 Best Pop Punk Songs of the 2000s - Vol.2

Brand New

Two words: Jesse. Lacey. This Long Island-based band is still alive and kicking, recently rebooting their career by performing some of their classic albums in their entirety, plus B-sides (i.e. Moshi Moshi) live. The Brand New vs. Taking Back Sunday beef was absolutely enthralling for me at a young age, and spawned some of the best rock revenge songs… ever. For old time’s sake I put on Your Favorite Weapon to listen to while working, and got so distracted by how good the songs were that I had to stop what I was doing and listen to the whole thing one time through.

Fenix TX

One of the early bands ofDrive-Thru Records, Fenix TX always seemed to be right on the cusp of big success. The closest they came to it was with their 2001 song “Phoebe Cates,” featured on their album Lechuzaand in the film American Pie 2. However, their 1999 self-titled release will always hold a special place in fans’ hearts.

G-L

The Get Up Kids

Known as the “second-wave” of emo music, The Get Up Kids penned one of the most popular pop-punk albums of the late ’90s, Something To Write Home About. The band went on to serve as a launching pad for spinoff projects like Reggie and the Full Effect and The New Amsterdams, both well-respected bands in their own right. While none of The Get Up Kids’ future releases ever topped the popularity of 1999’s Something…, their post-reunion 2011 album, There Are Rules, did peak at number 33 on the Billboard Rock Chart.

Good Charlotte

Let’s get this out on the table now: Good Charlotte from 2000-2002 = good. Good Charlotte from 2004-present = terrible. I know everybody merrily hopped on the Good Charlotte-is-the-worst-thing-to-happen-to-punk-music bandwagon years ago, but have those people even listened to their 2000 self-titled album? Because if so they would know how epic it is, with songs like “Little Things,” “I Heard You,” “Screamer” and basically every other track on there. Not even going to front and pretend like I haven’t seem them live, because I did and they put on a damn good show, OK? So lay off!

(Video) TOP 10 BEST POP PUNK BANDS (late '90s early '00s)

Jimmy Eat World

Jimmy Eat World was emo before being emo was considered an insult. After seven years of underground success, the four-piece band eventually broke through with their album Bleed American. (Looking at the track list right now–dear God, it’s a masterpiece.) They followed up with another classic, Futures, but their more recent music has been a bit lackluster. Regardless, we should never forget that this band provided us with 10 years of pop-punk perfection.

Lagwagon

Formed in 1990, and devout members of Fat Wreck Chords (founded by Fat Mike from NOFX), Lagwagon was not the type of band I would bring home to mom and dad. They smoked too many cigarettes, drank too much, were a little more punk, a lot less pop. They penned one of the greatest breakup songs in history, “Razor Burn,” and taught me what ecstasy was through their song “E Dagger.” Another SoCal band (this will be a trend in throughout the article), they came up on the scene with Rancid, Green Day and The Offspring. If punk rock had a family tree, this group would be the cool uncle to many of the bands you see on this list.

M-S

MXPX

It’s rare for a pop-punk band to chart in the Billboard 200, let alone hit number one in the Christian Albums category. But MXPX did both of those things–several times–while still cultivating a strong following in the alternativescene. Of course, that alternativecred may have evaporated once the band covered the song “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?” for the film’s 2002 soundtrack. Oh well, gotta’ pay the bills.

New Found Glory

Proteges of Blink, New Found Glory gained popularity through their amazing cover songs (“Glory of Love” anyone?) and their “I paint my nails black but you can still introduce me to grandma” image. If there was one person that almost rivaled my love of Mark Hoppus, it was NFG guitarist Chad Gilbert. While the band is still performing and putting out new music, nothing can really top those heart-wrenching anthemic tunes from their early career. I guess nothing gold really can’t stay.

(Video) BEST POP PUNK BANDS OF ALL TIME (especially the 2000's) TOP 10!!!

Saves the Day

This band had lyrics so gripping, at age 13 I wasn’t even sure what they were talking about but I just felt it so hard it hurt. It wasn’t until I was older that I was like, “Wait a second, I think this guy [singer Chris Conley] is talking about being in love with another dude.” The Saves the Daydiscography began with the fast, driving and poetic Can’t Slow Down, and slowly morphed into more melodic and structured tunes found on Through Being Cool and Stay What You Are–arguably two of the best pop-punk albums of all time. Naturally, as bands of this genre tend to do, their most recent efforts are more than lackluster. But we can still all sing along to “At Your Funeral” and think back to simpler times.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5l-JlZ54jrw

Something Corporate

Something Corporate always had the ability to stand out from the rest of the pop-punk bands of the late ’90s, early ’00s. This is likely due to the fact that frontman Andrew McMahon chose to wail on a piano rather than an electric guitar, and he actually has a decent voice (no offense, half the bands on this list). Of course they had their super poppy hits like “If U C Jordan” and “Punk Rock Princess,” but nothing made the crowd go more wild than a good ol’ “Konstantine” ballad.

The Starting Line

The Starting Line is yet another pop-punk band that began their career with Drive-Thru Records. And perhaps it should’ve stayed that way. After releasing two well-received EPs with the label, they earned heavy rotation on MTV for their hit, “The Best of Me,” which was a track on their first full-length album. But after signing with major label Geffen they began to receive pressure to become more radio friendly. This led to 2005’s mediocre follow-up,Based on a True Story.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIGgUTkhUAM

Sugarcult

Sugarcult is one of those bands that you forget existed, then randomly pops into your head one day and you call your friend and say, “hey remember when I refused to let you burn Wrap Me Up in Plastic because I was only 15 felt that CD piracy was wrong?” and then forget about for another five years. I don’t know why these dudes didn’t get more love: from Southern California, cute, wrote songs about breakups and railing against “the man.” And their songs were good. Like, poppy and catchy for sure, but had their own uniqueness to them that made the band stand out. I really have no knowledge base to say this, but I feel like Fountains of Wayne is a poor man’s Sugarcult. Maybe I’ll revisit one of their albums right now… or I’ll forget about them for another couple years.

Sum 41

Sum 41 is like the Canadian, illegitimate love-child of Blink 182. They had powerhouse pop-punk hits, but their version of pop was always a little grosser and a little bit more aggressive. While they’retechnically still together, I feel like everybody kind of stopped caring after 2002’s Does This Look Infected?AndI don’t think frontman Deryck Whibley relationship with poseur Avril Lavigne helped their image much. Speaking of Deryck, have you seen him lately?

(Video) Top Pop Punk Songs of the 2000s

T-Z

Taking Back Sunday

You knew this was coming next. Adam Lazzara, the frontman that everybody loved to hate for stealing Jesse Lacey’s girlfriend and then writing one of the most epic albums ever about it. I’m referring to Tell All Your Friends of course, which featured lyrics like: “Best friends means I pull the trigger / Best friends means you get what you deserve.” What did he deserve?! Why!? Hours upon hours spent with my cousin dissecting the gripping lyrics to the seminal record, ultimately coming to the conclusion that Adam Lazzara was kind of a dick, but was one hell of a songwriter. While still active, the band suffered a major lineup change in 2003 and their follow-up attempts could never quite achieve their initial success. The good news? We got Straylight Run out of it.

The Used

All I remember about The Used was that Bert McCracken used to sing so hard that he’d make himself throw up onstage, and he had a few appearances on MTV’s The Osbournes as Kelly’s boyfriend. A product of the pop-punk resurgence in the late ’90s, The Used began making waves in the early 2000s as one of the few “post-hardcore” bands amongst a see of generic pop-punk groups (*cough* Simple Plan *cough cough*). I would even go out in a limb to say that they helped to usher in the whole screamo movement, for better or worse depending on your tastes.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rhww-odwLLM

The Vandals

I know, I know, The Vandals formed in the ’80s. But it wasn’t until the ’90s, with albums like Fear of a Punk Planet and Hitler Bad, Vandals Good, that they garnered more attention for themselves. I think of The Vandals as a more grown-up, edgier version of Blink 182. Instead of making your classic dick and fart jokes, they offered up more practical advice like: “Never think she’s perfect ’til you talk to her first / Never fall in love ’til you go through her purse” (“But Then She Spoke“), and tips on handling a breakup by just telling everybody your girlfriend died. While technically still “active,” the SoCal rockers haven’t had an album out since 2004.

Yellowcard

Nothing says “punk rock” like the violin. Well, atleast the members of Yellowcard seem to think so, as the Florida band has been rocking the instrument non-stop since forming in 1997. After three full-length albums, they finally broke through to mainstream in 2001 with their first major-label release,Ocean Avenue. They’ve consistently recorded albums thereafter, and in 2013 tried to cash in on the success of Ocean Avenue by releasing an acoustic version. Can’t blame a band for trying.

FAQs

What was emo in the 90s? ›

According to AllMusic, most 1990s emo bands "borrowed from some combination of Fugazi, Sunny Day Real Estate, and Weezer". The New York Times described emo as "emotional punk or post-hardcore or pop-punk. That is, punk that wears its heart on its sleeve and tries a little tenderness to leaven its sonic attack.

Is pop punk emo? ›

Emo pop (also known as emo pop punk and pop-emo) is a fusion genre combining emo with the melodies of pop punk and/or pop music. Emo pop features a music style with more concise songs and hook-filled choruses.
...
Emo pop
Other namesEmo pop punk
Stylistic originsEmo pop punk pop
Cultural originsMid-1990s, United States
3 more rows

Was emo popular in the 2000s? ›

Regardless, the 2000s were a time where pop punk and emo was thrown into the mainstream. The two genres often blended to the point where they essentially become the same thing for a small period of time. To some people, emo was more about apparel than the music itself.

What is the most known emo band? ›

List of the Greatest Emo Bands of All Time
  • The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Frontman.
  • La Dispute. Frontman. ...
  • The Used. Frontman. ...
  • Tigers Jaw. Frontman. ...
  • Dashboard Confessional. Frontman. Chris Carrabba. ...
  • Texas Is the Reason. Frontman. Garrett Klahn. ...
  • Cap'n Jazz. Frontman. Tim Kinsella. ...
  • Panic! At the Disco. Frontman. ...
Feb 12, 2022

What is the first emo band? ›

Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary (1994)

Benefitting from the post-Nirvana boom, Seattle's Sunny Day Real Estate were the first emo band to see mainstream success and Diary is their masterpiece.

Is there an emo Emoji? ›

Description: Emo is short for "emotional" and may refer to a lifestyle or a type of music. The "//" part of the emoticon represents hair draped over one eye, which is the stereotypical emo look.
...
Emo.
//_T)o.DirectionVertical (not tilted sideways)
ShortcutNo
Popularity★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ Uncommon
UpdatedJuly 17, 2010
1 more row

Who is the queen of pop punk? ›

Avril Lavigne

Is emo coming back 2022? ›

Being a teenager isn't easy, and emo music was the saviour for all of us kids who wanted to escape our everyday lives. It's no surprise that the anticipated return of the genre has sparked some excitement in 2022, especially in the wake of Avril Lavigne's comeback with her new album Love Sux.

Is Billie Eilish emo? ›

Billie Eilish responded to a question characterizing her as an " emo kind of sad-looking teenager" at the Academy Awards on Sunday evening. Eilish and her brother-slash-collaborator Finneas Baird O'Connell took home the Academy Award for best original song for their James Bond theme in " No Time to Die ."

What is a emo kid? ›

Teenagers use this slang term to characterize sensitive kids who follow emo music, dress in black, and have self-destructive tendencies. The slang term is derived from fans of emotive hardcore punk rock.

Who started emo? ›

Emo is a style of rock music characterized by melodic musicianship and expressive, often confessional lyrics. It originated in the mid-1980s hardcore punk movement of Washington, D.C., where it was known as "emotional hardcore" or "emocore" and pioneered by bands such as Rites of Spring and Embrace.

When did emo peak? ›

During the genre's mainstream peak, which lasted roughly from 2001 to 2006, there was a popular emo act for every shade of adolescent feeling. My Chemical Romance was imperiously self-deprecating; Fall Out Boy was exuberant; Panic!

Who is the king of emo music? ›

Emo rappers XXXTentacion (left) and Juice Wrld (right) were leading figures in the genre.

Which emo is the best? ›

The 25 greatest emo albums ever
  • 7Weezer – Pinkerton (1996)
  • 6My Chemical Romance – Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge (2004)
  • 5American Football – American Football (1999)
  • 4Panic! ...
  • 3Jimmy Eat World – Clarity (1999)
  • 2Fall Out Boy – From Under The Cork Tree (2005)
  • 1My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade (2006)
Mar 18, 2021

Where are most emo bands from? ›

Throughout the '90s, emo spread out from that West Coast birthplace, most notably taking hold of the Midwest region of America. Bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Piebald, Cap'n Jazz and The Promise Ring tidied up the gnarlier edges of that early emo sound, and amped up the emotion in the process.

What are the 4 emo waves? ›

Emo, shortened for Emotional Hardcore, emerged in the 1980s as a form of Post-Hardcore in Washington, D.C. There are four "waves" of emo: first wave, second wave, third wave, and fourth wave emo.

Whats it mean if someone calls you emo? ›

a person who is overly sensitive or emotional.

What does this emoji mean ? ›

What does Pleading Face emoji mean? The Pleading Face emoji depicts a yellow face with large puppy-dog eyes and a small frown. It is meant to represent the typical face one makes when pleading, that is, trying to win their compassion or sympathy.

What is the sad emoji? ›

x. The Sad Face emoji is one – um – sadly – familiar to many of us. It shows an emoji face with closed, downturned eyes and a frowning mouth that is so evocative of sadness, heartbreak and disappointment that there is no mistaking what it means.

Is punk the same as emo? ›

Emo is more emotional in nature, and dwells more on personal and relationship matters; whereas punk concentrates more on social and political issues.

Is punk different from emo? ›

Emo music is a subgenre of punk rock, indie rock, and alternative rock music defined by its heavy emotional expression. Emo is part of the post-hardcore band scene, with artists delving into songs with more substance and feeling.

What's considered pop punk? ›

Pop punk is a rock music genre that fuses elements of punk rock and power pop. It typically combines fast tempos, loud and distorted electric guitars, and power chord changes with pop-influenced melodies, vocal styles, and lyrical themes.

What is considered emo music? ›

Emo music is often considered a blend of goth, grunge, and alternative rock sounds. Sometimes Emo features complex guitar riffs and dynamic shifts between extremes. The lyrics are a focal point for Emo music, focusing on soaring vocals and profoundly introspective and intimate poetry.

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