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Punk Rock

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Primary Stylistic Influences (70s Punk):
Secondary Stylistic Influences (70s Punk):

"The popularity of punk rock was, in effect, due to the fact that it made ugliness beautiful."
Malcolm McLaren

This page is for the musical genre. For the 2009 play, go to Punk Rock.

Punks themselves are covered elsewhere on TV Tropes.


Ah, Punk Rock. You just can't beat it, can you?

God, where to begin? Well, first, the music itself. Punk rock is characterised by fast, hard-edged music, typically with short songs, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. In short: if you want to be a rocker, and have strong political views but little technical skill, it's the genre to go for. That's not an insult towards punk, of course: it's just, people usually won't care. Punks do not care if they are untalented; they do it anyway. Were Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious good musicians? No. But they still played, and that was because they were punks. They didn't give a damn about what other people thought of them, and that's a view many other punks share.

Ahem. Punk bands tended to eschew the excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They also embraced a DIY aesthetic, with many bands self-producing their recordings and distributing them through informal channels.

It all started in the mid-seventies with punk scenes growing in the US, thanks to the Ramones, Australia, thanks to The Saints, and the UK, thanks to the Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks, and The Clash. While the scene had been fomenting for a while, the big push of punk started, most say, in 1976 with the release of The Damned's first single and The Sex Pistols' first appearances. Out of all the first wave of punk bands, The Sex Pistols, in particular, were highly influential due to Malcolm McLaren's clever marketing and their high visibility, even though they weren't that talented a band (not that this matters, because they're punk). They (Sex Pistols) caused quite a fair bit of controversy on several notes: mass swearing during a live TV interview; releasing an anti-monarchy song named "God Save the Queen" for the Queen's silver jubilee; their name, "the Sex Pistols". This controversy also resulted in the punk scene exploding into success, causing the creation of the punk subculture and, by extension, the emo and goth subcultures, too.

By the early-eighties, with the increased diversity of influences and backlash against the cardboard-cutout punk bands starting to clog the scene, standard punk rock started to get replaced by harder, faster and more aggressive styles, in particular Hardcore Punk. Post-Punk, a less aggressive style that focused on more complex and experimental music, also evolved out of this initial punk explosion. This gave way to Post-Punk and Goth Rock bands such as Joy Division and The Cure, respectively, as well as New Wave bands like Blondie and Talking Heads, both of which existed during the punk explosion, but only came to prominence after it had keeled over. These genres incorporated elements from other genres such as Jamaican dub and Krautrock. Punk would exert a heavy influence over various forms of Alternative Rock. Other notable subgenres of punk include Emo and Pop Punk.

In addition, there is the subgenre of Oi!/street punk; nominally apolitical and the self-proclaimed music of the working class. Popular among punks and skins of all races and political stripes, the genre was formed in reaction to the perceived invasion of the punk scene by college hipsters, art school students and corporate fat cats. Famous bands include: the Cockney Rejects, the Oppressed, Angelic Upstarts, Cock Sparrer, Iron Cross, and many others. Special note

Throughout its history, Punk has been at odds with Progressive Rock, which is often considered to be the epitome of technical rock. Many punk musicians decried its greatly elaborate and exhibitionist nature, claiming that these characteristics were stifling and discouraging to amateur musicians. (However, this wasn't universal, and its extent has been frequently exaggerated in the press, perhaps due to critics' disdain for progressive rock. John Lydon [Johnny Rotten], for example, was an avowed fan of several seminal prog bands like Magma and Van der Graaf Generator,note  and the genre was an unmistakable influence on his later work with Public Image Ltd.. The two genres ultimately wound up influencing much of the same music - Metallica, Talking Heads, and The Fall of Troy, to name just three disparate examples, all bear an influence from both punk and prog - and ultimately even cross-pollinated each other somewhat. The Progressive Rock page has much further detail under the "Fandom Rivalry" trope.)

Punk has been described as the democratisation of music, since prior to its deconstruction of rock, rock had been becoming ever-more idolatrous and money-focused. Punk also helped create the next generation of independent record labels, including, most notably, 4AD Records, Factory Records, Rough Trade and Sub Pop. Interestingly, the punk ethos and fandom intersect in the early eighties, when punk 'zines were the inspiration for modern, home-produced fanzines, which eventually led to today's internet communities.

Also see Useful Notes on Punk

Sub-genres of Punk:

Notable punk musicians:

New York Punk Bands:

British Punk Bands:

Los Angeles Punk Bands:

Other Punk Bands: