Is Pop Punk Dead, and Did Machine Gun Kelly Just Save It?
What a stupid thing to say. Or is it?
Well that all depends. It’s too early to say he is the saviour of pop punk. But, he has, undoubtedly done more than any particular artist in the past number of years.
If we establish the definition of ‘saving a scene’ to be an artist that brings outside eyes onto said scene, then I’d say MGK is leading the charge, with his new record Tickets To My Downfall.
When rumours first started circulating that he was venturing into the pop punk world, and he had enlisted the help of Travis Barker, you knew something was going to change.
You can look at this in one of three ways:
MGK took a risk with such an about face musically. He risked alienating his fans, and paying the price.
He is just trying to cash in on a niche market. It’s disingenuous. Gimmicky even.
Much like his beef with Eminem a few years ago, he was just trying to create a buzz to sell records.
In the end, it’s fair to say he took a risk and it paid off. At the time of writing, Tickets To My Downfall is poised to debut at Number 1 on the Billboard charts. Clearly, he did something right.
So, the album.
Let’s talk about Tickets To My Downfall.
It’s easy to write this record off as a blink-182 knock off. How could you not? Travis Barker’s sound is all over this record. He also has one of the most distinct drumming styles in the pop punk world, so his sound should stand out. If anything, though, Barker’s sound and style brings a bit of familiarity to the record. One that makes it even easier to digest. This record has zero issues with easy digestion.
At its heart, maybe this record isn’t that much of a departure from MGK’s back catalogue - it’s music about relationships layered with big hooks, and slick production. It might be safe to say that the angle he chooses to look at these relationship, is more vulnerable than he’s been in the past, but the formula is still the same.
Upon the first few listens, the record seemed to lack any real production punch. Whether that’s intentional or not, it makes it easier for non-traditional (read: new) fans of the genre, to jump in. It could also be its biggest let down - it’s so tame, it’s vanilla in its sound.
As far as the songs go, this record is full of tunes that are instantly memorable, and some that take some growing. This sets the record up to stick around for awhile. It’s also sequenced well - starting with more mid-tempo jams, and hitting the faster bops toward the middle of the record, before settling in with a beautiful closer.
While some may find the vocals to sound boring, forced or even uninspired, MGK has a vocal delivery that is wholly his - loaded with snarl and plenty of ‘F*** you’ attitude.
In conclusion, MGK has released a surprising record. It has elements that’ll open the door for new fans to the genre, as well as elements that’ll please fans of early 2000s pop punk.
forget me too (feat. Halsey)
concert for aliens
So, has Machine Gun Kelly saved pop punk? Only time will tell, but he’s definitely fired the first shot.
Read our review of Dancing With The Curse by Get Dead, here.