🏆 Neat-o! This project was named as an Honorable Mention in The Pudding's 2019 Pudding Cup. 🏆


Challenging the livelihood of the genre in the streaming age using Spotify playlists.

Dance, Dance, Punk is Falling

It seems like punk music has just given up on itself. Tom isn't in Blink-182 anymore. Green Day is still a band? A Day To Remember made an edm song with Marshmello.

When you throw 21st-century curveballs like Spotify, which don't pay homage to forefathers in terms of prominence, its damn near impossible to narrow down what exactly punk looks like in 2019. But, we can try?

The genre is still high-energy and fast paced, proven by the Spotify data shown below. But only nineteen of the tracks in the 24 playlists have a popularity above 70%, and they're all from scene staples: four from Green Day, two from Fall Out Boy, two from blink-182, two from My Chemical Romance.

Though these artists were crucial to the 2000's era of punk music, they aren't the best representation of modern punk. All of the most popular songs were released over a decade ago. I mean, Fountain of Wayne's Stacy's Mom is the fourth most popular song in the playlists.

Each song is mapped out below as a single dot for each of the color categories, which represent an attribute of the song. Because it's a true reflection of the playlists, some songs appear twice, like Green Day's Basket Case, which is now the first and second most popular song.

Click a dot to

hear an audio preview

Popularity  |  Energy  |  Danceability  |  Valence

Slow Down, Speed Racer

As decades have passed, the genre has increasingly lost its appeal, mostly because of Hip Hop and bubblegum pop's dominance in the 90's and 00's. Across each decade represented in the playlists, which date back to the predeccesors of the 1960's, I grabbed the median artist followers and mean song energy to show how much the genre has changed.

New Artists, Few Followers

Punk artists who released music in 2019 have, using the median, fewer than four times the number followers than artists who released songs in the 2010's, the second-least popular decade.

So why is the decade represented so heavily?

Ideally, cramming new and unpopular artists into these playlists would give them an amplification and help boost their following.

But it seems that it actually does more to erase the genre's history. The 90's were more than blink-182 and Green Day.

High Energy, Low Popularity

The peak in the the average song popularity in the 80's was a result of not only Spotify cherry-picking fan-favorite songs but also the mainstream palatability of the tracks.

The songs are less hyper than the influx of 90's angst that flooded in the decade after but are more potently pissed than the chill vibes of the 70's.

But it all came crashing down, except for a few break-out stars: Green Day, blink-182, My Chemical Romance. The genre dove back underground and didn't pick up its steam again.

Now, with the inundation of new artists in the playlists, the median artist is less popular than any other decade, but they're more energetic.

Punk Is Actually Pop Punk

A breakdown of the genres associated with each song in the genre is even more telling. There are 424 different genres associated with the songs in the 24 playlists, which helps only to obscure the genre's definition.

Of these genres, only 54 contain the word 'punk'. The word 'rock' actually appears more often than 'punk' does when it comes to genre names. There are also 48 different combinations of 'core' genres, popularized by hardcore, metalcore and numetalcore. There are also 32 flavors of 'pop'-classified genres floating around in the playlists, mostly due to pop punk and Brendon Urie's jump to bubblegum pop.


How Did I Make This?

I used Command Line to grab my Spotify API key. I used Pandas to build my dataframes and export several to .csv's.

I shoved everything into D3.js scripts to spit out each graphic. The beeswarm plot was created using d3-force, which helped make it artsy. I used enter-view for scrollytelling. The waffle chart and bar chart were both made using colored divs instead of SVGs.

The biggest limitation to this piece is the fact that this is just a snapshot from a single day. Spotify regular updates its playlists with new artists and songs.

This piece was inspired by The Pudding's Crowdsourcing the Definition of Punk