Pop punk began to rapidly gain traction in the early 2000s, landing impressive spots on mainstream charts that propelled the success of the genre today. This transformative period uncovered legendary bands who produced albums that have stood the test of time.
While it’s apparent that pop punk began a definitive era 20 years ago, it’s also played a role in influencing the genre-fluid trends that we see musicians currently experimenting with in 2020. So let’s take a look back at the glory days of pop punk with 40 essential albums from the 2000s.
A Day To Remember – Homesick
Produced by New Found Glory’s Chad Gilbert, A Day To Remember’s Homesick was recorded in their studio in Ocala, Florida. One listen to “The Downfall Of Us All” and you’ll understand why this record propelled the band to instant popularity. It didn’t hurt that the album featured many special guests from the likes of Mike Hranica (the Devil Wears Prada), Vincent Bennett (the Acacia Strain) and Sierra Kusterbeck (VersaEmerge), with many of the songs actually surfacing on Myspace prior to the official drop. Homesick featured less aggressive songs, touching on the trials and tribulations of touring that many don’t talk about. The newfound softness of this album allowed fans to view ADTR in a completely different light.
Alkaline Trio – From Here To Infirmary
The third album from Alkaline Trio was completely show-stopping. Inspired by the phrase “from here to eternity,” From Here To Infirmary took on a new meaning with its fiery composition and reckless identity. This record proved to be a real turning point for the Trio, allowing them to undoubtedly come into their own and establish themselves as more of a rock band. As their first release under Vagrant Records, it proved to be a heavy-hitter that solidified their sound. From Here To Infirmary successfully showcased their unique sense of humor, memorable transitions and addicting energy. The result allowed them to become a blazing force with their new music.
The All-American Rejects – Move Along
Move Along was only the second album from the All-American Rejects. It gained much recognition from “Dirty Little Secret,” “Move Along,” “It Ends Tonight” and “Top Of The World.” With themes revolving around heartbreak and loneliness, Move Along attracted audiences who wanted to get deep in their feelings while also rocking out to great tunes. The catchy choruses and overall feel-good sound of this album resulted in its ultra-success while also landing spots in television shows and movies, including One Tree Hill, She’s The Man and Smallville. With their likability at an all-time high, the All-American Rejects were in for the ride of their life.
All Time Low – So Wrong, It’s Right
So Wrong, It’s Right was released through Hopeless Records in 2007, and it’s still a staple 13 years later. The iconic “Dear Maria, Count Me In” led the All Time Low to the top while still embodying classic pop-punk. So Wrong, It’s Right consists of a healthy mix of upbeat bangers (“Poppin’ Champagne”) and breathtaking ballads (“Remembering Sunday” featuring Juliet Simms) that perfectly satisfy their fans.
Allister – Last Stop Suburbia
Released under Drive-Thru Records in 2002, Allister satisfied fans with Last Stop Suburbia and ended up selling over 80,000 copies. Last Stop Suburbia was four months behind their original release date but eventually delivered fast-paced pop punk that people just had fun listening to. Craving an escape from reality, Allister succeeded in transporting listeners into a happy, carefree state of mind. Fan favorites from this pop-forward album included “Radio Player,” “Overrated” and “Somewhere On Fullerton.” The latter was even featured on Disney’s Extreme Skate Adventure. With that said, Last Stop Suburbia doesn’t fail to give us ultimate nostalgia today.
Anarbor – Free Your Mind
Free Your Mind by Anarbor is loaded with catchy choruses, fulfilling harmonies and advanced themes that intrigued audiences. The band mastered the kind of music that your body subconsciously just starts moving to. One of the most popular tracks, “You And I,” appeared in Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins shown on Cartoon Network. Around that time, Anarbor also made a music video for “The Brightest Green.” Ultimately, the attention that they received for Free Your Mind greatly propelled their popularity to uncharted heights.
The Ataris – So Long, Astoria
Inspired by The Goonies, which is set in Astoria, Oregon, the Ataris released fourth album So Long, Astoria in 2003. Songs such as “In This Diary,” “The Saddest Song” and “The Boys Of Summer” reflect on meaningful memories that spark nostalgia and spell out stories that tug on your heart strings, speaking on multiple near-death experiences that frontman Kris Roe had faced throughout his life. Straying away from typical topics, Roe drew from all aspects of his own personal experiences. It shaped the record into something that no one had ever heard. This maturity truly set the Ataris on another level that the world wasn’t ready for.
Avril Lavigne – Let Go
In 2002, Avril Lavigne gave us “Sk8er Boi,” “Complicated” and the rest of her killer album, Let Go. The pop-punk LP told the story of her road to pursuing music, which captured millions of people who bought it. However, the making of this album wasn’t the smoothest ride, as Lavigne struggled to musically find her way. She wasn’t satisfied with songs such as “Complicated” lyrically because she felt it didn’t properly showcase her writing skills. Despite her concerns, it ended up being a major driving force to shape her into the star she is today.
Bayside – Bayside
Bayside‘s 2005 self-titled album featured impulsive vocals and defiant drums along with several shining moments from guitarist Jack O’Shea. Typically known for their racing rhythms and energetic blasts, Bayside slowed it down in a rare instance, revealing emotion and vulnerability that fans didn’t get to see too often.
blink-182 – Take Off Your Pants And Jacket
After coming down from the success of Enema Of The State in 1999, blink-182 released their fourth album in 2001 called Take Off Your Pants And Jacket. The album’s title alludes to the act of masturbation, carving out a path for the adolescent and rebellious nature of the tracks. Once more, Take Off Your Pants And Jacket saw blink-182 pushing boundaries and using crass humor (see: “Fuck A Dog”) to win over listeners on their chart-leading album. With themes including teenage love, parties and issues that have followed them into adulthood, blink-182 didn’t fail to be lyrically unapologetic on this catchy classic.
Read more: The 10 most influential bands of pop punk
Bowling For Soup – A Hangover You Don’t Deserve
A Hangover You Don’t Deserve by Bowling For Soup came in with all guns blazing in 2004. The album was praised and recognized for its exceptional writing and unconventional music videos. Their leading track and Top 40 hit “1985” solidified them as a staple in pop punk. With a Grammy nomination already under their belt, Bowling For Soup weren’t going to stop at anything to heighten their popularity. Their witty lyrics, head-banging breakdowns and wicked humor didn’t disappoint.
Boys Like Girls – Boys Like Girls
Classic teenage themes such as love, jealousy and breakups propelled this eponymous Boys Like Girls album to unbelievable heights. Popular songs such as “Thunder” and “The Great Escape” opened up opportunities, leading them to headline their own tour in 2007 called Tourzilla and co-headline a tour with Good Charlotte called Soundtrack Of Your Summer tour in 2008. On their debut, Boys Like Girls made the kind of songs that you don’t mind getting stuck in your head for weeks. Their straightforward pop-punk sound is completely effortless, drawing in listeners from the get-go.
Cartel – Chroma
Chroma’s rioting riffs, captivating chord progressions and motivating melodies set Cartel up as a force to be reckoned with. From high school friends to respected bandmates, they poured their heart and souls into their debut album, breaking barriers that they never thought possible. “Say Anything (Else)” and “Honestly” were inspired by personal events vocalist Will Pugh experienced, which pushed the album to sell over 3,000 copies in the first seven days of its release. If his heart-wrenching breakup triggered by his upcoming tour wasn’t enough, he found out that his ex-girlfriend was happy in a new relationship, which set him over the edge—but it resulted in a musical masterpiece.
The Dangerous Summer – Reach For The Sun
The Dangerous Summer’s Reach For The Sun encapsulated intimate thoughts and struggles, opening up in new ways that fans hadn’t experienced from the band—just listen to “Surfaced” and “Where I Want To Be” if you’re skeptical. Frontman AJ Perdomo’s crisp, clean vocals were just the cherry on top for this electric record, with the album catching the attention of new audiences across the globe and surprising those who were already fans as it became something they didn’t know they needed.
Dillinger Four – Civil War
The making of Dillinger Four’s fourth album, Civil War, released in 2008 through Fat Wreck Chords, lasted for several years, which only heightened the anticipation for its initial release. The politically driven album spelled out unexpected transitions to ensure their audience was kept on their toes along with showcasing a modern maturity. Dillinger Four certainly delivered, and Civil War proved worth the wait. Clearly, the band had an unconventional process creating this record, but it eventually came out in its intended way.
Read more: QUIZ: Which nostalgic pop punk song are you?
Fall Out Boy – Take This To Your Grave
Debuting as a band signed with Fueled By Ramen never hurts, and on Take This To Your Grave, Fall Out Boy’s early pop-punk sound charted them high around the globe while boosting them to over a half of a million copies sold in the United States alone. With career kick-starting songs such as “Dead On Arrival,” “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy” and consistent set-closer “Saturday,” Fall Out Boy have proven that they’re absolutely eternal.
Four Year Strong – Rise Or Die Trying
Only their second album, Four Year Strong broke barriers with their statement record Rise Or Die Trying in 2007. This album featured legendary tunes including “Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die” and “Bada Bing! Wit’ A Pipe!” that sucked people in with their happy hardcore sound. Their grounding vocals and mosh-worthy moments are completely unparalleled, exposing an energy that cannot be contained. From their beloved hardcore screams to their sought-after breakdowns, Four Year Strong had everyone talking.
Good Charlotte – The Young And The Hopeless
Being only the second album by Good Charlotte, The Young And The Hopeless was a win. Their record label nearly dropped them due to the poor sales of their previous album, making this one essential for their career. Brothers Benji and Joel Madden,were responsible for writing most of the chart-shattering album, with recognizable tracks including “The Anthem,” “Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous” and “Girls & Boys,” just to name a few. Even after cycling through three different drummers during The Young And The Hopeless era, their album seemed to conquer the crowds with its high energy, brash beats and true angst.
Green Day – American Idiot
The album that famously swept the nation was none other than American Idiot. After an unexpected lack of sales from their previous release, Green Day came back with a vengeance on their “punk-rock opera.” American Idiot tells a story of the “Jesus of Suburbia,” depicting young people growing up during turbulent times in the early 2000s. The politically-charged album made a long-lasting statement that’s followed the band throughout their career, and their immense success from American Idiot even led them to develop their own Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name.
Hawthorne Heights – The Silence In Black And White
Hawthorne Heights debuted as a band in 2004 with their album, The Silence In Black And White, which was the highest-selling debut album for Victory Records at the time. Some of their famous songs from the album include “Niki FM” and “Ohio Is For Lovers,” giving fans a glimpse into their hometown lives. Their edgy lyrics and pronounced passion leveled up this record to an unprecedented standard. They knew what worked for them and perfected their sound even more through punching power chords and vivacious rock vocals.
Hit The Lights – Skip School, Start Fights
Hit The Lights came out with their second album, Skip School, Start Fights, in 2008, which was a year after their original vocalist left. Although they experienced member shakeups, they still came out on top with songs such as “Drop The Girl” and “Don’t Wait” featuring All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth. With lyrics referencing all things growing up and their trend-setting electronic nuances, Hit The Lights were ahead of their time. Although it caught some people off guard, their groundbreaking creativity spoke volumes.
Home Grown – Kings Of Pop
Released in 2002 by Drive-Thru Records, Kings Of Pop was only the third, yet last, album by Home Grown. The band sneakily hid three additional tracks at the end of the album after “Disaster” to give their fans something special to hold on to since it would be their last time coming out with new music. Their satisfying sound and uncut edges empowered this diamond in the rough to shine bright that properly concluded Home Grown’s iconic musical legacy.
Less Than Jake – Anthem
Anthem was the first album to include new member and sax player Peter “JR” Wasilewski, which began to shape them into the band we know today. To name the album, the members wrote down random words and crossed them off one by one until “anthem” was the last one left. Anthem goes against the grain, similar to the way they named the album. With the exceptional success of songs such as “The Science Of Selling Yourself Short” and “Surrender,” Less Than Jake had managed to one-up their already exceptional accomplishments.
Mayday Parade – A Lesson In Romantics
Mayday Parade were born from combining Kid Named Chicago and Defining Moment. After some success with their first EP, they released their debut, A Lesson In Romantics, with Fearless Records in the summer of 2007. Its stellar production, captivating hooks and overall elevated sound deemed this record an instant win. In addition, the album was credited for its exceptional songwriting, brutally honest themes of heartbreak and broad range of emotion that fans of all ages can relate to at some point.
Midtown – Forget What You Know
On Midtown’s final album, Forget What You Know, the Gabe Saporta-fronted act successfully stayed true to their roots and delivered a product that fans could hold on to forever. Released without a record label, Midtown proved the strength of their independence and excited fans with an album full of pure punk. Comprising 15 tracks, the closer “So Long As We Keep Our Bodies Numb We’re Safe” packed an emotional punch as it clocked in at about 13 minutes and gave fans the ultimate parting.
Motion City Soundtrack – Commit This To Memory
Produced by Mark Hoppus (blink-182), Commit This To Memory by Motion City Soundtrack was released in 2005 through Epitaph Records. The band wrote a part of the album in their hometown of Minneapolis and finished it up in Los Angeles. During this time, vocalist Justin Pierre was in the midst of battling severe alcoholism, which made this writing and recording process anything but simple. Between balancing AA meetings and attending studio sessions, Commit This To Memory was filled with incredulous layers that granted the band newfound respect. Although it was a bumpy road, they managed to find some light by creating an album that even Pierre said was his favorite.
The Movielife – Forty Hour Train Back To Penn
The Movielife‘s third and final album, Forty Hour Train Back To Penn, was released through Drive-Thru Records back in 2003. The album was centered around different stages of relationships, calling attention to love, heartbreak and everything in between. The last hoorah for the Movielife wasn’t one to miss. Their East Coast twang and classic pop-punk sound that made them colossal left fans with an album to remember.
New Found Glory – Sticks And Stones
Sticks And Stones is arguably one of the most popular albums by New Found Glory to this day despite it being released in 2000. In fact, it was so successful, it landed the band in American Pie 2. Legendary songs such as “My Friends Over You” and “Head On Collision” impressed audiences across the globe and even fellow musicians. It ended up catching the attention of four teenagers from Maryland who were inspired to call their band All Time Low as well as Mark Hoppus. The latter led New Found Glory to follow their release supporting blink-182 on one of their summer tours.
The Offspring – Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace
After a near five-year hiatus, the Offspring came through with their eighth album, Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace, which was released through Columbia Records in 2008. The four strong singles from the album included, “Hammerhead,” “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid,” “Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?” and “Half-Truism.” The album’s release led to the band being compared to Green Day and was recognized for its spitfire energy and unexpected ballads triggered from their time off. From exploring deep topics to expressing lighthearted emotion, the Offspring provided a diverse record that everyone could have a stab at.
Paramore – Riot!
Riot! gave Paramore the platform that rapidly launched them to fame. Having only been their second album, they blew the roof off with songs such as “That’s What You Get,” “Hallelujah” and, of course, “Misery Business.” Reflecting its title, the writing process for Riot! has been described as a consistent flow of uncontrollable emotions that led into this unforgettable record. The band poured urgency and passion into the album, leading it to its undeniable success. Riot! was Paramore’s ultimate breakthrough, which fans still worship today as if it was just released.
Relient K – Mmhmm
Mmhmm was Relient K‘s fourth full-length, which was released at the end of 2004 through Capitol Records. Perfectly combining Christian music with punk, “Be My Escape” and “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been” launched the band into super stardom. Staying true to their religious roots, Mmhmm was entrenched with inspiring lyrics and uplifting melodies paired with pure optimism. Although their music portrayed an elevated mood, they managed to integrate a sense of realness throughout. Having supported bands such as Simple Plan and Good Charlotte on tours during that time, Relient K truly set themselves up for success.
Set Your Goals – Mutiny!
Set Your Goals dropped their first-ever album with Eulogy Recordings, Mutiny!, in 2006. Debuting their now-recognizable gang vocals and steady breakdowns, Set Your Goals came in as an explosive force in pop punk. On their debut, Set Your Goals strayed away from common themes of heartbreak and focused on more complex topics, including forced influence, risk-taking and authenticity that left people wanting more. This release was followed by several U.S. tours with bands such as Crime In Stereo and Ignite, including a European run with acts such as the Steal. It’s safe to say that Mutiny! truly put them on the map, and having been influenced by bands such as Lifetime and CIV, Set Your Goals were able to curate their own pop-punk-meets-hardcore sound that makes them so unique.
Simple Plan – No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls
On Simple Plan’s debut, it wasn’t hard for the album to catch the attention of many with hits including “I’m Just A Kid,” “Addicted” and “Perfect.” No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls exudes vibrancy and vigor while sharing relatable messages regarding relationships and anxiety. And of course, it includes their childish banter that we all know and love. With their star-studded album featuring blink-182 vocalist Mark Hoppus (“I’d Do Anything”) and Good Charlotte’s Joel Madden (“You Don’t Mean Anything”), it’s safe to say that Simple Plan made a major statement on their first-ever album, which set them up for the success they reap today.
Something Corporate – Leaving Through The Window
Something Corporate’s Leaving Through the Window took a total of three months to record across two different states. The core of the album was built off the lyric “I want to save you,” which acted as the inspiration for the overall knockout. Not to mention, the band pleasantly surprised listeners with string instruments glimmering throughout. “I Woke Up In A Car,” “Punk Rock Princess” and “Hurricane” were some of the most notable tracks from this ageless album.
The Starting Line – Say It Like You Mean It
On Say It Like You Mean It, the Starting Line’s impressive lyrics and forward-thinking composition had everyone knowing their name. The songs on the album were equivalent to a friend helping you through hard times, which attracted listeners from all walks of life. It’s these feats that made the album a success and scored them opportunities to tour with New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday, Yellowcard, Good Charlotte and more. Ultimately, Say It Like You Mean It‘s pronounced positivity and beaming beats curated their fanbase.
Sugarcult – Palm Trees And Power Lines
Hailing from the Golden State, Sugarcult released their fourth album, Palm Trees And Power Lines, and it was an undeniable hit—with the album’s name being inspired by the classic California scenery. From party to professional, Sugarcult introduced their fans to a more mature and serious side of themselves through this record while still managing to have a blast along the way. Additionally, “Memory” and “She’s The Blade” were both featured on MTV following their release.
Sum 41 – All Killer No Filler
All Killer No Filler got the recognition it deserved with its diverse and dynamic nature. Hit songs such as “Fat Lip,” “Motivation” and “In Too Deep” took the pop-punk world by storm, and Sum 41‘s undeniably relatable lyrics successfully secured their long-lasting fanbase through their punk-rock journey. From writing one of the songs on the toilet to the album going platinum, Sum 41’s journey to this massive achievement was unique to say the least. Having been influenced by Green Day, All Killer No Filler allowed Sum 41 to truly establish their identity as a band with their pop-punk/skate-punk sound that makes them so recognizable.
Taking Back Sunday – Tell All Your Friends
Touching on mental health and relationships, Taking Back Sunday’s vulnerability pierced through on their debut album, Tell All Your Friends. Guitarist/vocalist John Nolan was open about how the album was based on true events. Specifically inspired by a newly ended friendship with Brand New vocalist Jesse Lacey, Tell All Your Friends had everybody talking. With fan favorites including “Great Romances Of The 20th Century,” “Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)” and “You’re So Last Summer,” Taking Back Sunday were able to stay plenty busy on tour following its release.
We The Kings – We the Kings
Formed back in high school, We The Kings wrote iconic songs such as “Check Yes Juliet” and “Skyway Avenue.” These were just some of the favorite tracks that came out of their self-titled album that started it all. This debut record infatuated listeners with vocalist Travis Clark‘s inviting tone and the band’s overall uplifting spirit. Audiences positively received their first album, stimulating the creation of a major Myspace fanbase. This held them through the test of time, even following the death of the social media platform.
Yellowcard – Ocean Avenue
Inspired by their sun-soaked hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, Yellowcard graced us with their fourth album, Ocean Avenue, in 2003. Most recognized for the title track, “Ocean Avenue” was ironically almost cut, as they were struggling to finish the chorus. This musical debut with Capitol Records ultimately catapulted their pop-punk sound into the mainstream. Songs from the album were featured on One Tree Hill, Charmed, Sleepover, Smallville, The O.C. and more. Clearly, it was ingrained in our brains during the early 2000s in the best way.