5 Seconds of Summer’s Youngblood and the Death of Pop Rock

One of the biggest perks of being a One Direction fan during 2013 was the emergence of 5 Seconds of Summer: a pop-rock band from Australia that made every “Directioner” feel as though they were just the tiniest edgy since their music featured guitar-heavy motifs. The band’s debut, self-titled album came out in 2014 and featured songs like “She Looks So Perfect,” “Good Girls,” “18,” and my personal favorite, “Voodoo Doll.” These songs, and the entire album, blend the perfect combination of pop and rock to become one of my favorite albums.

The band went on to release their second album, Sounds Good, Feels Good, in 2015. While this album was not as good as their first one, songs like “Jet Black Heart,” “Vapor,” “The Girl Who Cried Wolf,” and “Outer Space/Carry On” continued to bring out the rock influences that the first album relied so heavily upon. While I didn’t love it as much as I did the first, I remember jamming out to the album during my junior year of high school while working on a major project for IB Biology. A lot of the more mellow songs on the album are still present on my “Sleep” playlist because they’re just too gorgeous to completely ignore.

5 Seconds of Summer took a three-year hiatus before returning this year with a new single, “Want You Back.” Finally! After three years, one of my favorite bands was releasing new music! I couldn’t wait to hear Luke Hemmings and Michael Clifford’s incredible guitar riffs, Calum Hood’s sensational bass line, and of course, Ashton Irwin’s drum line that was enough to make me weak at the knees. But then the song came out and, well, it was no “Voodoo Doll.” The song is quite good, but instead of the pop-rock genre that I absolutely adored, a much more Top 40, pop sound emitted from my speakers. I didn’t hate it, but where were my pop-punk princes that I had been in love with at age 16?

As I write this, I’m listening to their third and newest album, Youngblood. The album has some genuinely good songs; I especially love the titular track, “More,” and “Why Won’t You Love Me.” But the album seemed to follow in the footsteps of “Want You Back,” and I’m missing the band I fell in love with. It feels like no one is pop punk/pop rock anymore, which is my favorite genre of music! Where did everyone go??

Part of the appeal of 5 Seconds of Summer was that my 14, 15, and 16-year-old selves (and, to be quite honest, my current 19-year-old self) dreamed of a pop-punk boyfriend: a guy that played the guitar or the drums, wore skinny jeans and Doc Martens, maybe had an earring or two, maybe had a facial piercing of some kind, wasn’t afraid to dabble with guyliner, and would sweep me off my feet. Essentially, I wanted (and still want) Luke Hemmings in the “She Looks So Perfect” music video. Where did he go?

Music trends evolve, and for a while now pop punk and pop rock have been the victim of “survival of the fittest.” Pop, rap, EDM, and indie music have become the new norm, and they’re all really amazing styles of music! But they leave little room for pop rock. Bands like Fall Out Boy have started moving more towards generic pop, and bands like All Time Low, who have clung to their pop-rock title, are slowly gaining less and less notoriety. Only Green Day seems to be immune to this but, well, they’re Green Day! And there’s a good reason for it: all of the kids who were emo in 2005 have grown up! The generation that popularized the angsty genres have moved on to adulthood and can no longer relate to that genre of music.

5 Seconds of Summer may not have been around during the “Golden Age” of pop rock, but they are not immune to growing up. Which is a shame, because 5 Seconds of Summer’s old music was not only my favorite genre, but it was fun. “She Looks So Perfect” is not a flawless song, but it’s a fun song about romping around in your underwear, and the music video is wonderfully body positive. It’s a song that you can air guitar to in your room when you’re home alone on a Thursday night, and sometimes those are the best kind of songs.

I’m very ignorant when it comes to music, so I want to know what other people think. Is pop rock dead, or has it just moved on? What are everyone’s opinions on Youngblood? Do we like me doing music reviews or is this dumb? Let me know by following me on twitter @liz_zarb, and keep an eye out for more posts in the future!

2 thoughts on “5 Seconds of Summer’s Youngblood and the Death of Pop Rock

  1. Omg I couldn’t relate more to a music review than this. I loved 5sos ever since they opened up for 1D when I saw them in concert in 2013. Ever since then I bought all of their albums, books, their live album, and I even was able to see them in concert in 2015. When they finally came out with new songs I was excited. But their new stuff is just not as interesting as they used to be. Honestly I just really want the old pop-rock band back. *also you should definitely do more music reviews 😋


  2. Pop-rock is not dead, I think most up and coming artists today try to have one “pop” song just to make it to the radio. Gets them exposure (and money) which allows them the freedom to evolve. In my view, that is what 5 Seconds of Summer is doing!!!


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