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.


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.

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.


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.


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.



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) Top Pop Punk Songs of the 2000s

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.

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.


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) 2000s Pop Punk Hits Mix 🎸 Best Pop Punk Songs of the 2000s


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.

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.


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.


What was 90s emo called? ›

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.

Was emo popular in the 90s? ›

Before emo morphed into the drama and eyeliner of the 00s, it was a different scene altogether. Fans of the genre consider the 90s to be its golden age, before it was corrupted by commercialism.

Was emo popular in the 2000s? ›

The genre became mainstream in the early 2000s with Jimmy Eat World's album Bleed American, including the album's song "The Middle". In the 2000s, other emo pop bands that achieved mainstream success included Fall Out Boy, the All-American Rejects, My Chemical Romance, Panic! at the Disco and Paramore.

Who was the first ever emo? ›

1. 1980s: The first wave. Born out of Washington D.C.'s 1980s hardcore-punk scene, emo's roots are often traced back to Rites Of Spring. Musically similar to the scuzzed-up riffing of post-hardcore, it was Rites Of Spring's personal lyricism that saw them picked out as the fathers of emo.

Who is the most popular pop punk band? ›

1. blink-182. While Green Day may have paved the way for pop punk, it was blink-182 who perfected it (in the words of Mark Hoppus himself). Combining pop music and classic punk riffs, the band grew hugely popular among young crowds in 1999, becoming one of the biggest and best-selling pop punk bands of all time.

What was the first emo band? ›

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.

Why are Emos called emo? ›

Emo is a shortening of the word “emocore”—a contraction of the words “emotional” and “hardcore”—two terms used to characterize this particular type of music. Popular emo bands include My Chemical Romance, From First to Last, Fall Out Boy, Jawbreaker, and Dashboard Confessional.

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.

How do you dress like an emo? ›

In the emo subculture, large or studded belts, horn-rimmed glasses, messenger bags, wristbands, fingerless gloves, and striped socks are all popular accessories. You could, for example, pair a studded black belt with your favorite Fall Out Boy or My Chemical Romance T-shirt.

Whats does emo mean? ›

/ˈiː.moʊ/ [ U ] a type of popular punk music with words about people's feelings and emotions. [ C ] slang. a young person who likes this music, wears mainly black clothes, and is often nervous, worried, and unhappy.

Is emo still a thing? ›

Now, amid a global pandemic and political unrest, the genre has seen a resurgence and is resonating in a big way with Gen Z. Tunes from the 2000s are now popular on TikTok, with the app filled with videos of teenagers dancing to a soundtrack of Paramore and Green Day.

What is the Emoest song? ›

47 Best Emo Songs of All Time
  1. “Helena” – My Chemical Romance. ...
  2. “All I Wanted” – Paramore. ...
  3. “Sugar We're Going Down” – Fall Out Boy. ...
  4. “Cute Without the E (Cut From the Team)” – Taking Back Sunday. ...
  5. “You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us In Prison?” – My Chemical Romance. ...
  6. “Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't” – Brand New.
7 Apr 2022

What came after emo? ›

Mainstream success

Scene entered popular culture following the mainstream exposure of the emo subculture, indie pop, pop punk, and hip hop in the mid-2000s. The scene subculture is considered by some to have developed directly from the emo subculture and thus the two are often compared.

What is the opposite of emo? ›

What is the opposite of emo?
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What is emo personality type? ›

What is a emo person like? An emo person tends to be quiet, introspective or shy, and can be creative. They spend time alone or with people who share their interests listening to music or making emo-influenced art. They have deep emotions but aren't always only angry or sad.

What is emo look? ›

Typically emo clothing is dark and very tight fitting, often consisting of black jeans and a t-shirt with an emo band logo on it. Many kinds of sneakers are associated with emo fashion.

What is 4th wave emo? ›

The emo revival (also known as the post-emo revival, the Midwestern emo revival, and fourth wave emo) was an underground emo movement which came about in the late 2000s to early 2010s.

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!

When did the emo style start? ›

emo, also called emocore, subgenre of punk rock music that arose in Washington, D.C., in the mid-1980s.

Who are the big four of pop punk? ›

So, who are the big 4 of punk? The Clash, Sex Pistols, Ramones, and Misfits are arguably the four most influential punk bands. These bands' music defined the genre and forever shaped the public perception of punk. Thus, these four stand among the best punk bands ever.

Who is the queen of pop punk? ›

She is considered a key musician in the development of pop punk music, since she paved the way for female-driven, punk-influenced pop music in the early 2000s.
Avril Lavigne
Musical career
GenresPop punk pop rock alternative rock post-grunge
Instrument(s)Vocals guitar
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What is Goth called now? ›

Emos are sometimes seen as a younger offshoot of the Goth scene, Hodkinson suggests, though emo also has connections to hardcore punk. Greater Manchester Police named goths, punks, emos and metallers as people of an "alternative sub-culture identity" in their definition of hate crimes.

What is 3rd wave emo? ›

The third wave of Emo started in the early 2000s where elements of Pop-punk became influential to the sound of Emo. Bands popular during this time were Hawthorne Heights, Taking Back Sunday and Fall Out Boy.

What is the opposite of Goth? ›

There are no categorical antonyms for this word. However, in the context of the goth subculture, one could use, e.g., mainstream, popular culture, etc., as antonyms.

How can you tell if your child is emo? ›

An emo kid is typically sensitive and thoughtful as well as being quiet and introspective. They tend to keep to themselves and rarely interacts with anyone not a part of the emo scene.

What day is National emo Day? ›

December 19

Do kids grow out of emo? ›

However, most who go through an emo phase will outgrow this lifestyle after finding out what makes them happy and completes them. As such, parents should not be concerned about their kid's emo phase. Most who go through the emo phase are generally between the ages of 14 and 18, according to How To (Adult).

What is emo hair called? ›

Emo Swoop. For boys and men who are interested in an emo haircut, the emo swoop is probably the best known style. Also known as the emo shag, it is characterized by bangs worn in a long fringe that is brushed to one side of the face, covering an eye.

How can I look emo without makeup? ›

How to Be Emo Without Makeup - YouTube

How do you act emo at school? ›

How To Be Emo - YouTube

What is another name for emo? ›

Emo synonyms

In this page you can discover 9 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for emo, like: indie-rock, screamo, grunge, punk-rock, indie, nu-metal, punky, punk and shouty.

What does emo mean in China? ›

Chinese people have recently adopted the word “emo” to express sadness, depression, and being emotional.

What does EMP mean from a girl? ›

Summary of Key Points
Definition:Electromagnetic Pulse
Guessability:2: Quite easy to guess
Typical Users:Adults and Teenagers

What is emo slang? ›

How is EMO used? Use Cases & Examples. 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. A variation is screamo, emo music punctuated with ear-splitting screams.

When did emo begin? ›

Emo music originated in the 1980s as an offshoot of the post-hardcore movement, rising over the decades to become one of the most popular music genres for a new generation of rock music fans. 1.

Is MCR an emo? ›

My Chemical Romance's music has been categorized as alternative rock, pop punk, post-hardcore, punk rock, emo pop, hard rock, hardcore punk, gothic rock, pop rock, arena rock, glam rock, heavy metal, and, most controversially, emo.

Is Weezer a emo? ›

The Weezer Wikipedia entry also lists emo as one of the band's genres. "Emo" is one of the more prominent tags on Weezer's LastFM page. Weezer's sophomore album, Pinkerton, was hugely influential on many bands in today's emo music scene.

Why do Emos say Rawr? ›

Rawr is slang for "I love you" in dinosaur "cute" speak. It's a roleplay way of being friendly between preteens and young teens. More done for fun, rather than having a serious meaning. The "xd" is actually in caps "XD" which becomes an smiley face emoji, with the X as an eye squint.

What is the 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. (//_^)

What is the new word for emo? ›

What is another word for emo?
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What was the first emo song? ›

Rites Of Spring – Deeper Than Inside (1985)

The band, led by future Fugazi-men Guy Picciotto and Brendan Canty were the first (alongside Ian MacKaye's Embrace) to have the word emo-core attached to their music, which they famously hated.

How do you dress like an emo? ›

In the emo subculture, large or studded belts, horn-rimmed glasses, messenger bags, wristbands, fingerless gloves, and striped socks are all popular accessories. You could, for example, pair a studded black belt with your favorite Fall Out Boy or My Chemical Romance T-shirt.

What was emo called in the 80s? ›

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.

What is a G note? ›

G-note (plural G-notes) (US, informal) A one-thousand dollar banknote. quotations ▼

Is Green Day emo music? ›

Green day are punk. They start from punk roots, have punk influences,live the punk lifestyle,and DO play punk music.

Is the neighborhood emo? ›

With a generally moody, emo tone that's supported by existential and profound lyrics, The Neighbourhood will send listeners into the deepest parts of music and themselves.

What is the opposite of emo? ›

What is the opposite of emo?
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Are the Smiths emo? ›

Lyrically they are essentially emo, dealing with similar subject matter as 90% of contemporary emo bands. Musically, they are of their time. Their timbre is quintessential 80s synth-pop.

What is Weezer's number one song? ›

1. “Say It Ain't So


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