Hardcore punk (often abbreviated to hardcore) is a punk rock music genre and subculture that originated in the late 1970s. It is generally faster, harder, and more aggressive than other forms of punk rock. Its roots can be traced to earlier punk scenes in San Francisco and Southern Californiawhich arose as a reaction against the still predominant hippie cultural climate of the time. It was also inspired by New York punk rock and early proto-punk. New York punk had a harder-edged sound than its San Francisco counterpart, featuring anti-art expressions of masculine anger, energy, and subversive humor. Hardcore punk generally disavows commercialism, the established music industry and "anything similar to the characteristics of mainstream rock" and often addresses social and political topics with "confrontational, politically-charged lyrics."
Hardcore sprouted underground scenes across the United States in the early 1980s, particularly in Washington, D.C., New York, New Jersey, and Boston—as well as in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. Hardcore has spawned the straight edge movement and its associated submovements, hardline and youth crew. Hardcore was heavily involved in the rise of the independent record labels in the 1980s and with the DIY ethics in underground music scenes. It has also influenced various music genres that have experienced widespread commercial success, including alternative rock and thrash metal.
While traditional hardcore has never experienced mainstream commercial success, some of its early pioneers have garnered appreciation over time. Black Flag's Damaged, Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime and Hüsker Dü's New Day Rising were included in Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003 and Dead Kennedys have seen one of their albums reach gold status over a period of 25 years. In 2011, Rolling Stone writer David Fricke placed Greg Ginn of Black Flag 99th place in his 100 Greatest Guitarists list. Although the music genre started in English-speaking western countries, notable hardcore scenes have existed in Italy, Brazil, Japan, Europe and the Middle East.
Origin of term[edit | edit source]
Steven Blush states that the Vancouver-based band D.O.A.'s 1981 album, Hardcore '81 "...was where the genre got its name." This album also helped to make people aware of the term "hardcore". Konstantin Butz states that while the origin of the expression "hardcore" "...cannot be ascribed to a specific place or time", the term is "...usually associated with the further evolution of California's L.A. Punk Rock scene", which included young skateboarders. A September 1981 article by Tim Sommer shows the author applying the term to the "15 or so" punk bands gigging around the city at that time, which he considered a belated development relative to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. Hardcore historian Steven Blush said that the term "hardcore" is also a reference to the sense of being "fed up" with the existing punk and new wave music. Blush also states that the term refers to "an extreme: the absolute most Punk."
Kelefa Sanneh states that the term "hardcore" referred to an attitude of "turning inwards" towards the scene and "ignoring broader society", all with the goal of achieving a sense of "shared purpose" and being part of a community. Sanneh cites Agnostic Front's band member selection approach as an example of hardcore's emphasis on "scene citizenship"; prospective members of the band were chosen based on being part of the local hardcore scene and being regularly in the moshing pit at shows, rather than based on a musical audition.
Characteristics[edit | edit source]
Joy de Vivre from the influential UK anarcho-punk band Crass at a 1984 show. An article in Drowned in Sound argues that 1980s-era "hardcore is the true spirit of punk", because "after all the poseurs and fashionistas fucked off to the next trend of skinny pink ties with New Romantic haircuts, singing wimpy lyrics", the punk scene consisted only of people "completely dedicated to the DIY ethics".One definition of the genre is "a form of exceptionally harsh punk rock." Like the Oi! subgenre of the UK, hardcore punk can be considered an internal music reaction. Hardcore has been called a "...faster, meaner genre" of punk that was also a "stern refutation" of punk rock; a "rebellion against a rebellion". Steven Blush states that even though punk rock had an "unruly edge", "Reagan-era kids demanded something even more primal and immediate, with speed and aggression as the starting point."
According to one writer, "distressed by the 'art'ificiality [sic] of much post-punk and the emasculated sellouts of new wave, hardcore sought to strengthen its core punk principles." Lacking the art-school grace of post-punk, hardcore punk "favor[ed] low key visual aesthetic over extravagance and breaking with original punk rock song patterns." Hardcore "...disavows...synthetic technological effects...[and] the recording industry." Around 1980, as punk became "moribund" and radio-friendly, angry "shorn-headed suburban teenagers" discarded new wave's artistic statements and pop music influences and created a new genre, hardcore, for which there were no places to play, which forced the performers to create independent and DIY venues. Music writer Barney Hoskyns compared punk rock with hardcore and stated that hardcore was "younger, faster and angrier, full of the pent up rage of dysfunctional Orange County [(Los Angeles)] adolescents" who were sick of their life in a "bland Republican" area. While the hardcore scene was mostly young white males, both onstage and in the audience, there are notable exceptions, such as the all-African-American band Bad Brains and notable women such as Crass singer Joy de Vivre and Black Flag's second bassist, Kira Roessler.
Steven Blush states that Minor Threat's Ian MacKaye "set in motion a die-hard mindset that begat almost everything we now call Hardcore" with his "virulent anti-[music] industry, anti-star, pro-scene exhortations." One of the important philosophies in the hardcore scene is authenticity. The pejorative term "poseur" is applied to those who associate with punk and adopt its stylistic attributes but are deemed not to share or understand the underlying values and philosophy. Joe Keithley, the vocalist of D.O.A. said in an interview: "For every person sporting an anarchy symbol without understanding it there’s an older punk who thinks they’re a poseur."