Pop punk was born in the ‘90s, so it’s natural bands of the genre would pay homage to the era with covers of greats from the time.
Between bands covering their favorites of the decade, Fearless Records releasing two volumes of Punk Goes ‘90s and Hopeless Records’ Songs That Saved My Life project — a charity compilation where artists cover songs that have impacted their life for the better for mental health awareness and suicide prevention — there were plenty to choose from.
To narrow it down we tried to stick in the alt rock realm, but there are plenty of covers of '90s metal and pop songs out there, too.
Some are pretty darn great and others are not, but here are 10 Pop-Punk Covers of '90s Songs we think you should check out.
Copeland - “Black Hole Sun” Originally by Soundgarden (1994)
Look, Chris Cornell was not only an incredibly strong and versatile vocalist but also a prolific songwriter. Not to be too dramatic, but “Black Hole Sun” is a masterpiece. This cover is not. No one sings like you anymore, Chris.
Four Year Strong - “In Bloom”Originally by Nirvana (1991)
Back in 2009, easycore heroes Four Year Strong dropped a full album of '90s covers called Explains it All. The release is full of the decade’s hits, and it’s clear this group has an immense love and respect for the era. Rather than just drop a boring recreation of this definitive Nirvana track (as so many before and after them have done), the group added their own pop-punk flair (including gang vocals) making for a fun and unique version of an absolute classic. Isn’t that kind of the whole point of a cover, anyway?
Get Scared - “My Own Worst Enemy” Originally by LIT (1999)
Whether you know this hit from its original ascension or from playing endless hours of Rock Band 2, if you are at all familiar you can probably sing every word. The song is pretty pop-punk to begin with, but post-hardcore band Get Scared took on the track about idiotic hijinks for Volume 2 of Punk Goes ‘90s. They added some screaming and a “fuck” to the lyrics to make it more edgy, I guess.
Hit The Lights - “Hey Jealousy”Originally by Gin Blossoms (1992)
“Hey Jealousy” is an absolute all-time alt rock banger, but it was originally a flop. It appeared on Gin Blossoms 1989 debut album Dusted, but it didn't reach its peak until it was re-recorded for their breakthrough 1992 album New Miserable Experience. Hit The Lights definitely dialed up the pop-punk energy to make it their own.
The Maine - “Steal My Sunshine” Originally by Len (1999)
In 2015, Arizona rockers The Maine offered an endearing version of the late-'90s hit “Steal My Sunshine” with a kinda creepy, SPF-filled music video. Their take stays pretty faithful to the original and even features another pop-punk mainstay — Derek Sanders of Mayday Parade.
Neck Deep - “Torn”Originally by Ednaswap (1995), Made famous by Natalie Imbruglia (1997)
Hopeless Records launched the Songs That Saved My Life project in 2018 with this track from label stars Neck Deep. The band did a shot-by-shot remake of the “Torn” music video that received praise from the ‘90s star herself. Imbruglia commented on a Neck Deep Instagram post about the video with heart emojis and said, “I love it!”
State Champs - Real WorldOriginally by Matchbox Twenty (1996)
We can thank volume two of Songs That Saved My Life for this gem. Matchbox Twenty are a great choice for State Champs, because most pop-punk band’s don’t have a vocalist who could pull off the quirky delivery of this classic (really, a lot of them can only do the whiney nasal thing). Derek DiScanio had no issue, and we get to enjoy this modern version with a music video to match the original. They did use an alpaca instead of a camel, though.
The Wonder Years - “Losing My Religion” Originally by REM (1991)
This song appears on both Songs That Saved My Life (covered by Movements) and also Punk Goes (covered by Scary Kids Scaring Kids), so it’s clearly a popular choice. Considering the phrase “losing my religion” is a Southern colloquialism to express frustration or being at the end of one’s rope, this isn’t a huge surprise. We decided to go with The Wonder Years’ version recorded for Amazon Music, though.
Yellowcard - “Today”Originally by Smashing Pumpkins (1993)
Yeah, yeah, we know. Try to spare your vitriol of Yellowcard for just a minute. A handful of Smashing Pumpkin covers by Warped Tour bands exist, but this is the only one with a violin intro.
Yours Truly - “Don’t Look Back in Anger”Originally by Oasis (1995)
This wouldn’t be a proper list of ‘90s covers without Oasis, and there were a few options (Cartel did an all right cover of “Wonderwall” for Punk Goes) — but this choice is not just great, it also gives us a chance to highlight some up-and-comers. Already making waves in their home country of Australia, Yours Truly boldly took on this (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? hit for Aussie Radio special Like A Version ahead of the release of their debut album Self Care.
BONUS: Dance Gavin Dance - “Semi-Charmed Life”Originally by Third-Eye Blind (1997)
Listen, we know this isn’t really pop punk, but every modern pop-punk band actually wishes they were Third Eye Blind (we don’t blame them), and it seems criminal not to have one “Semi-Charmed” cover mentioned. This one by Dance Gavin Dance for Volume 2 of Songs That Saved My Life manages to keep the greatness of the original intact while still being so unmistakably DGD. Plus, the addition of screaming is executed in such a hilarious and charming way we have to give them props.