There’s a Spotify playlist called Pop Punk’s Not Dead, and that may be true, but the undead of yesterday’s pop punk are of the slow, Night of the Living Dead variety. On the other hand, Travis Barker is responsible for batshit crazy, World War Z/28 Days Later type zombies at the very least. At the risk of sacrilege, it’s probably more like a on the third day the tomb was empty full-on resurrection.
The man is an absolute machine. Have you seen everything he has done lately? Plus, on top of it all he still has time to flex on everyone with public appearances with Kourtney Kardashian.
(Full disclosure: I had to look it up which Kardashian it was. I thought it was Khloe. I was wrong.)
Now, we all know Travis Barker has been know to collaborate with other artists, especially with rappers to do remixes or have live drums on their tracks. I vividly remember his early remix of Soulja Boy’s “Crank That (Soulja Boy).” I mean, who could forget it?
He has done this at pitter-patter let’s get at ‘er kind of pace, but recently, Travis barker has been on a TEAR. That guy has been everywhere and featured on everything. It’s one thing to be featured on a song here or there. And It’s another to be producing a lot, just like how Jack Antonoff has been producing anyone and everyone in pop.
However, Travis has been doing literally everything every step of the way. He’ll produce, feature on the song, appear in the music video, show up for live performances, and then be front row of the biggest UFC fight later that night. All with multiple artists.
Then there’s the range of who he works with. Most recently, he was in a pop-punk-esque tiny desk ^from home concert with Young Thug. What does this guy not do, and how does he even have the time?
Let’s go back to when this kind of started. In late March of 2020, Machine Gun Kelly teamed up with Travis Barker and released a cover of “Misery Business” by Paramore. And thus a menace was born.
A month later, the duo released “Bloody Valentine” and Machine Gun Kelly almost immediately starts dating Megan Fox afterward. As a guy who was 14 years old at the time the first transformers movie came out when Megan Fox took the world by storm, I have to say he’s living every kid’s dream. Like holy shit. Can you imagine being a teenager when that came out and then fast forward 13 years later, and you’re dating the chick you thought about while masturbating?? Of course, I’m speaking hypothetically about any given teenager attracted to Megan Fox at the time the movie came out and not talking about a 14-year-old me’s masturbatory preferences or habits.
Together, Megan Fox and MGK then released a steamy music video (okay, not that steamy) for "Bloody Valentine," and in the span of a couple short months Travis Barker has completely changed the trajectory of Machine Gun Kelly’s career, and they’re off to the fucking moon. People talk about Elon Musk and his effect on Doge coin but I find Travis Barker’s effect on MGK’s career much more impressive. If I were Machine Gun Kelly, you gotta believe that Travis Barker helping you redefine yourself with music that is significantly better than the music you were making before had something to do with getting a smokeshow like Megan Fox.
Travis Barker then produces an entire album for MGK entitled Tickets To My Downfall which was released on September 25, 2020. In the blink of an eye, I was transported back to 15 years old when according to me, one and only one genre even mattered: pop punk.
If I listened to this album with my 28-year-old cynical, hipster-leaning-tendencies brain, I probably would laugh, even gawk at this album. But my brain and ears refuse to even comprehend that the album is not as good as it is by automatically reverting back to the 15-year-old versions of themselves.
It has a host of features which seem baffling (Halsey, Trippie Redd, iann dior, and blackbear) but somehow fit the pop punk feel and spirit of the album.
With the release of Tickets To My Downfall, Travis Barker however is just getting started with his mission to make pop punk great again, which along with make America RAGE again, is the only other “make __ great again” campaign I can get behind.
Other artists Travis barker has recently given his blessing to:
KennyHoopla. Check this kid out. His more punk than pop feel is great, and he’s probably my favorite new artist to come out of the genre in a while. The strain on his vocals reminds me of Adam Lazzara of Taking Back Sunday a bit. I feel he is a combination of Adam Lazzara and another vocalist of the classic pop punk era, but the name currently eludes me. If you think of it, drop it below in the comments.
WILLOW. Verbal meme: this is the girl who sang I whip my hair back and forth. Feel old yet? Okay but seriously, he just redefined ANOTHER career. And it’s like Olivia Rodrigo’s “good 4 u” pop music with a harsher, grittier soul of punk? The vibe and aesthetic of this new iteration of WILLOW invokes everything that punk represents: acceptance of everyone as long as they’re not part of the problem (the man or the machine) and a I’ll-do-whatever-the-fuck-I-want attitude that seems to give a middle finger to all music execs who probably had a different vision for her career. If this is the direction the genre is going then sign me up. Hell yeah. It’s different, it’s edgy, and it’s something that makes you want to whip your hair back and forth (I’m sorry, I’m better than that).
Jxdn. This is the one that I can’t quite get behind but it’s current pop cultural relevance needs to be mentioned. Being 28, I don’t really get the TikTok generation. I just don’t understand what they find interesting or entertaining. Apparently, the kid got started on the social media platform and has ingratiated himself into some hot juicy TikToker drama including Nessa Barrett and Josh Richards, all of which I don’t care to know the details nor do I really know who those two I just named are, besides the fact that they’re TikTokers. Okay, you got me. I fucking can’t get enough of these youths and their dramas. Inject it right into my veins.
I will give credit where credit is due the kid did a halfway decent cover of “drivers license,” and since I have this need to constantly remind everyone that as for me and my house we will serve Olivia Rodrigo (that’s another biblical reference there — keep up, people — there will be more of those to come), I’ll take it.
Now, I don’t know why Travis Barker has decided to take it upon himself to be The Godfather of pop punk, the ultimate puppet master working the strings to build the pop punk empire, but I’m mostly here for it. The drift of rappers into the genre isn’t all that surprising. Rappers (mostly of the mumble rap variety) have been citing pop punk as their influences for years at this point. Among those who have cited pop punk and emo music as influence are Lil Uzi Vert, and late rappers Juice WRLD, XXXTentacion, and Lil Peep. Even Chance the Rapper cited Death Cab For Cutie as an influence which led to their eventual collaboration on the song “Do You Remember” on Chance’s album The Big Day. So the fact that this is happening seems like a long time coming, especially as popular music continues to genre bend more than the Avatar.
Since I said I was mostly for it, I’m going to clarify by saying I won’t listen to everything that falls into this vein of music, or if I do, it’s not like I’ll throw it into my regular rotation. I’m not benching indie music in my starting lineup because of everything that Travis is doing with this new strain of pop punk, but it’ll get some decent minutes off the bench from it and maybe even make a striking case for sixth man of the year. It’s got potential. It’s got moxie, but it’s not a perennial all star to build your entire franchise around.
Travis Barker to me is like Paul was to King Agrippa. Almost thou persuades me to be a pop punk lover again.
However, one thing is certain: Travis barker is a machine. I don’t see how he ever has time to sleep with how much he’s doing, and based on the pictures and videos of him and Kourtney, when he’s not working I definitely don’t think he’s sleeping either.
On a more serious note, I made a comment to my friends that Travis’s resurgence and work around the clock producing, featuring, music videos, playing live, etc. is a coping mechanism to deal with Mark Hoppus’s recent cancer diagnosis. There might be some truth to it, buts it’s just conjecture. I would have to imagine that anyone would enjoy the distraction of work like this when your best friend and longtime band mate is diagnosed with stage four cancer, but I’m not going to put all of my eggs in that basket since Travis started on this journey over a year ago.
Regardless, it’s fun to see what he’s doing and I’m interested to the extent he will take it. Stay tuned everyone. It just got interesting.
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