On May 21, 2012, three teenagers sat on a couch in Mr. and Mrs. Hemmings’ living room in Sydney, Australia, strumming softly into a camera mic on their laminated acoustic guitars.
In the years to follow, Luke Hemmings, Calum Hood, Michael Clifford and drummer Ashton Irwin would grow from friends to co-stars, as their living room jam sessions on Luke Hemmings’ YouTube channel would become famous.
Hemmings, Hood, Clifford and Ashton Irwin became a self-proclaimed “pop punk” band called 5 Seconds of Summer, and have drummed up an enormous following, mainly consisting of tween girls. After a series of hit singles such as “Hey Everybody!” and “She’s Kinda Hot,” they released their debut album “Sounds Good, Feels Good” last Friday.
Many students at Sonoma State University might recall when pop punk was a huge craze in the early 2000’s, and will be disappointed or even angry to discover that 5 Seconds of Summer sounds nothing like the genre they grew up with.
Their voices sound far too synthesized and squeaky clean to be considered any kind of punk, lacking the emotion and authenticity behind real punk music.
Additionally, the music itself is too slow and simple, and doesn’t seem to fit in anything outside of pop, with only a few song exceptions, which only stand out because their melodies are slowed down versions of songs that have already been made.
The first few songs on their album are singles that have already been released. The opening track, “Money,” remains as one of the better songs on the album due to its diverse, catchy rhythm and great beat.
Their next two songs, “She’s Kinda Hot” and “Hey Everybody!” even more clearly fit into the pop genre, but, like “Money,” lack meaning in their lyrics and overall message.
For example, the chorus in “Hey Everybody!” is as follows: “Hey everybody, we don’t have to live this way/ We can all get some, yeah, we can all get paid.”
The verses describe the struggles of broke people; people who can’t afford to take the bus, buy gas,or their rent, but are just as poorly written.
The part that doesn’t make sense is how these broke people are expected to just get paid. Having never been broke or unsuccessful, 5 Seconds of Summer offers no actual insight or concluding message to the piece.
The next track, “Permanent Vacation,” was released in advance as a sneak peek for the album. At first listen, these lyrics seem more creative than prior tracks because of the use of bigger words, but on closer inspection they are just as meaningless.
“Situation: no motivation/ destination: permanent vacation,” they sing, the message being that if you feel lazy, just stop working forever.
It’s clear that the band likes slapping random words and phrases that are frequently used in typical pop punk songs to make nonsensical verses like “corporations, calculations/ we are the new generation.”
The rest of the album consists of new and original music, which is just as much of a disappointment as their previous music.
What defined the pop punk culture more than anything else were young people rebelling against the status quo.
The pop punk bands of the 80s, 90s and early 2000s offered provocative lyrics about controversial issues like the school shootings (“Teenagers” by My Chemical Romance) and the war on terror (“American Idiot” by Green Day).
5 Seconds of Summer’s lyrics have no substance, and in poorly trying to copy the style of so many bands before it, are actually conforming rather than straying from the norm.
At least boy bands like One Direction had the decency to admit that they were pop rather than defacing an entire genre. Frankly, 5 Seconds of Summer did to pop punk what Iggy Azalea did to rap.