The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

5 Seconds of Summer: A little more ‘rock’ than ‘pop’

If you’ve been near a radio this summer, chances are you’ve had a catchy little tune about “American Apparel underwear” stuck in your head (and probably even caught yourself humming it.)

This is all thanks to four guys from down under: Luke Hemmings, Calum Hood, Ashton Irwin and Michael Clifford, who formed 5 Seconds of Summer in 2011 after meeting at their Sydney school. The band has gotten tons of attention as One Direction’s openers for not one, but two, of the boy band’s tours. After some of the 1D guys were impressed by 5SOS’ videos on YouTube, they asked them on tour and, essentially, shoved them into the spotlight in front of millions of screaming girls.

But while the 5SOS guys are often labeled as a ‘pop-rock’ group or even a ‘boy band’ (perhaps because of their association with 1D), they’re a little more rock than pop, and definitely a band, sans ‘boy.’

This is all the more clear after the band released their first full -length album this summer, a self-titled disc featuring radio singles “She Looks So Perfect” and “Amnesia.”

While “Perfect” is certainly Top 40-catchy, there are some pretty great guitar licks in there and the kind of drums you’d never hear on a true pop song. Many of the band’s non-singles are even rock-ier; bonus track “Social Casualty” opens with a “Sugar, We’re Going Down”-like riff and has a chorus seemingly taken from the book of Green Day. “End Up Here” is complete with a shouty chorus and references to Kurt Cobain and Bon Jovi.  “Rejects,” also a bonus track, sounds like a harder version of Simple Plan’s  “I’m Just a Kid.” There’s the guitar-driven “The Only Reason” off the She Looks So Perfect EP, bonus track “Close as Strangers” that sounds like a Boys Like Girls track with a little more edge, and “Long Way Home,” the perfect upbeat, rock song about high school love.

Oh, and those instruments you hear? Although all four guys trade off on vocals, they do play all their own instruments, too (I know – shocking, these days.) Moreover, they play them well—especially for a band with a median age of 18.

Are they the next Stones or Nirvana or Strokes or even Arctic Monkeys? Certainly not. But they’re musically informed by the same ‘90s-‘00s pop-punk and pop-rock a lot of us grew up on: Blink-182, Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Good Charlotte, All Time Low. 5SOS even collaborated with many of their idols on the album, co-penning songs with Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low and Benji and Joel Madden of Good Charlotte.

Many have been hesitant to allow them entry into the rock world, though. The band caused some controversy earlier this summer when they landed the cover of music magazine, Alternative Press. Some readers were up in arms claiming 5SOS aren’t, well, ‘alternative’ enough, mostly due to their mainstream success with “She Looks So Perfect.”

But to that I’d say every band has a commercial side; after all, people in bands usually have the intention of having people hear their music. Just because “Smells Like Teen Spirit” has been on the radio a million times doesn’t mean Nirvana weren’t—aren’t—undeniably important to rock music. Just because MCR’s “The Black Parade” is played on radio stations your mom listens to doesn’t mean they’re automatically a ‘pop’ band or that it cancels out the existence of their harder stuff on Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (or I Brought You my Bullets, You Brought me Your Love…. Anyone?) In a perfect world, songs get exposure because they’re actually, you know, good.

Green Day and Fall Out Boy and Blink and Paramore have all had a ton of airplay, and, yes, while some former fans might call them sellouts for that fact, it doesn’t mean their music’s changed or they’ve suddenly switched genres. And guess what? All those groups have covered AP magazine, too.

5SOS’ debut full length is a solid effort with more than a few good songs on it. While it certainly won’t win over music snobs, it’s important to recognize the effort that went into this album from four talented, young guys that look up to Dave Grohl, and – in their ripped skinnies, holey band tees, and Vans – look more like that cool skater from high school than any boy bander you’ve ever seen. Irwin’s drumming has some serious power behind it, Clifford can shred on guitar, Hood can lay down a bassline, and Hemmings has one of the best pop-rock voices I’ve heard in a few years.

In conclusion? 5SOS are a little more Fall Out Boy, a little less Backstreet Boys.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Greyhound Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
5 Seconds of Summer: A little more ‘rock’ than ‘pop’