Hit Parade

I Write Sins, Not Tragedies Edition

The pop-punk and emo boom of the ’90s and ’00s shows how punk keeps selling out and buying in.

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Episode Notes

“Punk happened, past tense.” That’s what Boomer-era critics and true-believer punks told the younger generations. Punk’s whole reason for being was rejecting the mainstream. But punk wasn’t just a movement—it was also a genre. And 20 years after it first emerged, punk went from underground to overground, dominating the radio for the first time.

In this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy traces how punk traveled from Sid Vicious to strip mall, through the lineage of ’90s bands Green Day, Offspring, and Blink‑182, and ’00s emo artisans Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, and their skinny jeans–wearing, smarty-pants contemporaries. From the CBGB era to the current Billboard Hot 100, punk is no historical artifact—it’s still morphing and adapting. And for all its supposed opposition to convention, the dirty little secret is: Punk has always been catchy.

Podcast production by Asha Saluja with help from Rosemary Belson.

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About the Show

Chris Molanphy, a pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia, and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts, and shaped your memories forever.

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Host

  • Chris Molanphy is a feature writer and critic who writes widely about music and the pop charts.

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