Punk is a subgenre of rock music. The term “punk music” can only rarely be applied without any controversy. Perhaps the only bands always considered “punk” are the first wave of punk bands, such as the Clash and the Ramones. Before this, however, a series of underground musicians helped define the music throughout the 1970s — see Forerunners of punk music.
After 1978, following the collapse of The Sex Pistols, punk could go no further. However, the space that had been created in popular taste and in the distribution system facilitated a number of successors.
With the exhaustion of The Sex Pistols, none of their peers — Blondie, Siouxie and the Banshees, Television, The Clash, The Pop Group, The Ramones was able to carry on the public fight for freedom of expression. A flood of other groups came to prominence in Britain who explored the new space with abandon.
Despite evidence to the contrary, many refused to believe that the phenomenon could not be repeated and several so-called genres acquired followings.These ‘genres’ can be grouped into three categories — hardcore punk, New Wave and alternative rock.
Hardcore punk music kept the raw, visceral energy of the original punk bands. In the 1980s, reggae influences resulted in a fusion called ska punk, while another group of bands became known as Oi!, uniting punks and Skinheads with an aggressive, though often humourous style of streetpunk. Some of these bands took a far-right political stance, most notably Skrewdriver, but most distanced themselves from this, often appearing at the opposite end of the political spectrum, such as The Angelic Upstarts. During the 1990s, some more styles emerged, including straight edge, and queercore, based around subcultures — straight edge and homosexuals, respectively. Psychobilly (see also cow punk) also emerged, fusing punk with rockabilly and other kinds of country music. In addition, emo (or emocore) had appeared by the 90s, characterized by slower beats, dreamy vocals and angst-ridden lyrics, and moshcore, which involved heavy moshing.
New Wave was the most popular genre of punk music, dominating the charts during the early 1980s. Varieties included Neue Deutsche Welle, synth pop, dream pop and the New Romantics. Of these, the most popular was synth pop, though the most critically accepted groups were the underground dream pop bands. In the 1980s, dream pop evolved into many of the most popular genres of the 1990s. This occurred primarily in Britain, with styles like jangle pop (and the Paisley Underground) and noise pop (and, later, twee pop, shoegazing). All of these styles (along with psychedelic music) contributed to the popular emergence of Britpop in the middle of the decade.
Keeping the anti-corporate stance of punk music, alternative rock is a broad grouping, referring to multiple styles. The earliest genres were noise pop, post-rock and Gothic rock. These bands were unable to break into the mainstream, though they influenced many of the 1980s’ most popular groups. By the end of the decade, post rock had developed into math rock, while other genres like Riot grrl, slowcore (aka sadcore or shoegazing) and grunge music. During the early 1990s, grunge music broke into the mainstream in a big way. With “alternative” now mainstream, other bands began referring to themselves as indie rock. Many all-women bands are alternative, punk, post-punk, or riot grrl. Popular alternative rock bands today incorporate several different styles of music bringing a hybrid of sounds, e.g. Linkin Park.