When people argue about genres, it's usually on the basis of authenticity. This or that band is or is not the personification of a truly random utterance that is meant to signify a noun for the abstraction of sound.
Pop-punk deviates from that tendency in a big way. Not only is it rare to find anyone parsing hairs over what does or does not qualify as catchy, melodic punk rock, the term is shared amongst a wide variety of bands that arguably come from different strains of rock altogether.
Nevertheless, bands like Dillinger Four, the Mr. T Experience, and Blink-182, none of which could be mistaken for the other, can all safely be described the same signifier.
In the course of compiling this list of Florida's ten finest pop-punk ensembles, my priorities were to represent the various strains with the top from each micro-genre, and annoy nerds.
Waka waka, motherfuckers.
10. Sloane Peterson
Our deeply arbitrary (or is it?) ranking of pop-punk (as we have defined it) opens with a band that arguably did not play pop-punk. Sloane Peterson was a Miami-based melodic punk b/w a power-pop five-piece that offset tremendous harmonic chops with vocalist Steve Hersh's sentimental/drunk caterwauling. They released a smattering of EPs and a posthumous full-length record that we hear is big in Japan, just like Cheap Trick.
9. Billy Reese Peters
This Gainesville troupe was, appropriately enough, pure the Fest music. That is, anthemic, driving, raucous 'n' sloppy punk-pop (in that order), and/or a band for people that thought the Grabass Charlestons could stand to get a little drunker.
8. The Tim Version
Tampa's Tim Version fit comfortably between William R. Peters and the aforementioned Charlestons, but my memory from the early 2000s -- much sharper than today because I was straight edge -- was that these guys were a bit softer-spoken than their beer-soaked peers. Which is not to suggest they were not also soaked in beer.
P.S. Was it the Tim Version that made shirts for the second 305 Fest featuring a shark (or something?) surfing while lifting a keg with the caption, "Spring Break 2005: Get your dick wet?" Or was that somebody else?
7. Grabass Charlestons
This three piece personify the wing of Gainesville punk that doesn't sound like Hot Water Music. They achieved the ideal balance of humor, sentiment, melody, and dissonant oomph. Plus the drummer sang, which was neat, and if I remember correctly, the bassist would do totally sick back bends during their sets.
6. Less Than Jake
The band that helped rocket No Idea Records and Gainesville to the forefront of North American punk rock by perfecting a third-wave ska variant that I demand we refer to as "pop punk with horns." Less Than Jake has played an integral role in the economy of the Sunshine State, and we would probably have ranked them higher had they held on to their Bosstones-style official onstage skankaroo dude.
5. Pink Lincolns
And now to represent the leather jackets and boogers contingent... Tampa's Pink Lincolns are probably the best known band from Florida that plays mongoloid Chuck Berry-style first wave punk. Whatever it takes to pull of a successful Ramones impression, the Lincolns huffed glue with the confidence of Screeching Weasel and the Queers (both of whom, btw, share split releases from the Gulf Coast of Florida's most beloved snot punx).
4. The Funyons (a.k.a. Onion Flavored Rings)
Arguably the best pop punk band from Dade County, these here Onion Rangs play compact manic ditties about existential freakouts. A lot of pop-punk revels in angst -- teen, political, etc. -- but the Funyons (later reincarnated on the West Coast as Onion Flavored Rings) were coated in thick, righteously smarmy angst, pronounced like Werner Herzog might say it after too much coffee at an anarchist bookstore.
If No Idea experienced a golden age (gilded wave?) following the one-two punch of their rosters expanding profile with scene defining acts like Hot Water Music and Against Me!, then Bitchin' would likely earn that era's punk people's choice awards. A fan favorite in their homebase of Gainesville, the trio of Miami ex-patriate bassist Caroline Paquita, Rumbleseat siren, Samantha Jones, and drummer Todd Wessfeld earned their keep by hocking big, juicy loogies of poppy, grungy punk with post-riot grrrl thematics and aesthetics
Before she was BFFs with Jack White, Dead Weather and the Kills vocalist, Alison Mosshart fronted Orlando's much revered Discount. Their Half Fiction LP is a cult classic of melodically-rockin almost-emo. Or maybe just emo? The line is fine. There will be more than one person who used to finger-point along to every word or do that chest-slapping thing who will undoubtebly take offense to Discount not being at the top of this list.
1. This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb
But what can I do? If you ask me (you didn't) the undisputed all-time champeens of Florida pop-punk are Panhandle stalwarts, This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb. Although they ended up elder statesman in the early 2000s folk punk 'splosion, their brand of East Bay b/w Pensacola jangle-punk was way more sophisticated than your average muppet baby dumpster diver with an acoustic guitar and a staph infection. Which is not to say the Pipe Bomb were not smelly hippies. They were, and almost definitely still are. But instead of G-Rated YOLO-ing, This Bike channeled actual American folk, outlaw country into a sing-a-long soundtrack to Food Not Bombs meetings across the globe.
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