Punk Rock: The Sound of Revolution | Sunday Observer

Punk Rock: The Sound of Revolution

25 July, 2021

Punk is a counter-cultural movement from the 20th Century that has since become one of the most recognisable subcultures in pop culture. It is characterised by a distinct and iconic array of ideologies, fashion and music best described as anti-establishment. Though it has only been an underground movement at best, the Punk movement has become a rallying ideology for rebellious youth unsatisfied with the status quo and is one of the most enduring subcultures of the time.

The origins of punks are difficult to trace as the feelings and ideologies that are at its core were extremely common in western youth of the 60s. Punk Rock, the genre of music which was the basis for the movement, popped up in countries like the US, Spain and even Yugoslavia, usually under oppressive authoritative government. However, Punk Rock as we know it was most prominently developed in the UK during the 70s.

Sex Pistols band

While many acts that could be labelled Punk had come before, such as the Velvet Underground, Suicide and New York Dolls, one of the most influential bands in Punk Rock is indisputably the Sex Pistols, the premier act of Britain’s Punk Rock movement. Though they were not the first official Punk Rock band, that title arguably went to the Ramones, the Sex Pistols found the most infamy, being a part of many high profile events such as when they performed their anti-monarchy song “God Save the Queen” on the Thames during Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee celebration. While the Sex Pistols helped define the movement with their heavy handed critiques, they also soured the public’s opinion towards it. Their member, Sid Viscious’s infamy for his drug abuse, being charged with the murder of his girlfriend and then subsequent overdose at 21, only confirmed the public’s idea of Punk as a juvenile and destructive movement.

Punk Rock, as a genre, was characterised by fast and edgy music, short and simple music, and political lyrics. As the idea and performance was often more important than the music itself, Punk Rock artistes were often not too musically talented. Because of this criteria, any artiste with a rebellious streak could be Punk Rock, though they never got too popular. Acts like the Sex Pistols carved their way into public consciousness through highly publicised controversies, which in turn inspired even more artistes. However, this led to an oversaturation of low effort Punk Rock acts, which led to the division of Punk Rock into several sub genres, like Hardcore Punk and Post Punk.

As Punk Rock, by definition, opposed the establishment, the establishment was also in direct opposition to the Punk Rock movement as well. Punk was consistently and infamously mischaracterised by the mainstream, creating the image of a movement entirely defined by drugs and violence, completely disregarding its politics and social criticisms. The stereotype of the average Punk became indistinguishable from the stock street thug and became one of the go to antagonists of any pulp show or comic book that needed something to demonise. This idea endured to this even though it did not realistically represent any real life Punks, though the way they present themselves do not help their image at all.


Eventually however, during the 90s, Punk Rock saw a resurgence in America with acts like Nirvana, Green Day and Sum 41 bringing Punk back into the mainstream. This new interaction was more accurately known as Pop Punk, and further diluted the political ideologies behind Punk and was eventually boiled down to its aesthetics. Nowadays, Punk Rock remains an indie genre as it started out, much like the subgenres it inspired, such as Emo and Goth.