"Punk" Is The Grossest Word In Music

by Zack Zarrillo - Jun 18, 2013

Noisey recently published an article on how the term “punk” is overused to the point where it isn’t actually a genre, but just a way to sell something. You can check out the truly interesting article in full here and a snippet below after the jump.

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You know that grossed-out feeling you get when you hear the word “panties?” I won’t even wait for you to respond, because I assume that being a normal human being, hearing the word “panties” sends a wave of perviness over your soul and makes you feel like you should be added to the National Sex Offenders Registry. There is a musical equivalent to “panties,” and that is the word “punk.”

“Punk” is a totally stupid word and I feel like I should be thrown in music jail for using it. Not sure who else would be in music jail, but definitely the guy who wrote that “Hey Soul Sister” song and anyone who wears a shirt of the band they’re going to see. “Punk” is my least favorite word that also happens to be a word I use approximately 900 times a day, since it’s technically the type of music I listen to. I say “technically,” because that’s one of the worst things about the word: It’s so fucking broad.

Punk, first and foremost, is an ethos or set of ideals, so anything that falls under this gigantic, safety-pinned umbrella gets labeled as “punk.” Then, there are all these subgenres of punk, all with equally gross-sounding names. There’s hardcore, which confuses people. The first time I told my mom I listened to hardcore music, she said, “No, you don’t. That’s pornography.” There’s also emo, which makes me want to beat myself up for even saying it. And then there’s screamo, ska, pop punk, post-punk, grindcore, and a million other subdivisions people made up to make themselves sound interesting on their dating profiles. It’s all technically “punk.”

This brings up some deep philosophical questions. Questions like “Is punk a musical genre or a state of being?” “Can you define a genre that is inherently anti-definition?” “How the fuck has Anti-Flag been a band for 25 years?” In seeking answers to these questions, I asked for input from my friend Brendan Kelly, a notable punk rocker who has been punk rocking for the last 15 punk years in the punk band The Lawrence Arms (very punk). Take it away, BK: “If Crass is punk and Good Charlotte is punk and Madball and Fifteen and the Misfits and Shelter and the Cro-Mags are all punk (and they all are, because no rules, bro), then it’s pretty meaningless ideologically, which means it’s just another way to sell something, and ‘ways to sell something’ are either lame marketing strategies on one hand, or propaganda the other.” So basically, if everything is punk, then nothing is punk. At this point, I’d like to point out that punk is the only genre of music where this sort of discussion occurs. You never hear fans of motown at each other’s throats about what is or is not “motown” BECAUSE THE TEMPTATIONS ARE NOT REAL MOTOWN YOU FUCKING POSER GO BACK TO HOT TOPIC.

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  3. moshlikethezombies reblogged this from propertyofzack and added:
    THIS. thankyou .
  4. slappygilmore reblogged this from propertyofzack and added:
    Read up. There are some very good points in this.
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