There are very few genres as uniquely suited to the summer as pop-punk. We know this. You know this. And all of cottage country—whether you’re situated in Muskoka or along the Atlantic coast—knows it. No, we’re not kidding: cottagers are so well attuned with pop-punk, that in Ontario, they’ve even dedicated large festivals to it. (It’s called Wakestock, city slicker.) So, just in time for summer, we’ve assembled 22 of the best songs to play when the thermometer spikes—so, strap on your board shorts, crack open a Monster Energy Drink, and turn that Fox Racing baseball cap backwards. Hold onto your soul patches—we’re going wakeboardin.’
Is there a more quintessentially cottagey sentiment than “I want to jump in a lake / Sun shining down on the beach in the summer?” It’s even more effective when sung by a BMX-riding, Canadian Tim Armstrong.
Millencolin’s absolute pinnacle was “Lozin’ Must,” a track that fits cottage country as well as a broken-in Independent Skateboards flexfit cap.
Calgary’s Chixdiggit were—nay, still are—one of Canada’s best pop-punk bands, and “My Restaurant” remains one of their best songs—mostly because they reference the No Fear clothing line, a cottage-country accessory on par with tinted Oakleys, Alien Workshop sweatshirts, and a downright vulgar farmer’s tan.
ATARIS—”San Dimas High School Football Rules”
For everyone who rags on PitchVegan for their hip, elitist snobbery, we present you the alternative: Oversharingly earnest butt-pop, complete with straight-faced middle-school imagery (guys, stars!), nudge-wink ’80s teen-flick referencing (John Cusack swoooooooon), awkwardly placed proper nouns (usually referencing some middling drive-in or restaurant or state fair in some equally middling town), and more eyebrow rings than eyebrows themselves. All of a sudden, ironic detachment is looking pretty good—I mean, at least it’s not outfitted in an oversized bowling jersey.
SUM 41—”Makes No Difference”
A cottage party ain’t a cottage party until you vomit that mixture of Red Bull, vodka, and neon popsicle into a washing machine.
Despite their status as a Christian band—and not just a “band with a spiritual side”—even your most ardently punx friends were down with MXPX because, quite frankly, there’s no better band to wakeboard to. And wakeboarding >>>>> arguing endlessly over when the moment of conception actually occurs. Duh.
PLANET SMASHERS—”Super Orgy Porno Party”
Goofy, French-Canadian party ska no longer has a place in pop culture, but it’ll always be cranked to 11 in the cottages of our hearts.
It’s a song that reads like a YouTube comment; it also happens to end on a pitch-perfect harmony of “I fucked your mom.” Here, the perfect song.
THE OFFSPRING—”Original Prankster”
A few weeks back, a friend remarked that Dexter Holland resembled a beat-up loaf of bread. I haven’t been able to shake the visual since.
ANOTHER JOE—”Eat At Bernie’s”
Another Joe were a relic from sunnier days, when four-note basslines, terrible dyejobs, and records called Ass Seen On TV earned bands national notoriety.
ANTI-FLAG—”Die For Your Government”
We chose a lyric video for this song, because just in case its message wasn’t clear, dying for your government is one thing: It’s shit.
FLASHLIGHT BROWN—”Sonia Bianchi”
Sadly, Sonia Bianchi still doesn’t know anyone in Flashlight Brown’s name. Next time, try a simple “hi,” instead.
SUBLIME—”Caress Me Down”
Is there a more enduring image of cottage country than the word “Sublime,” tattooed in Olde English script across peeling, freckled-yet-lobster-red shoulders? Face it, literally half the dudes in Muskoka have one of ‘em. (Sup, Petey?) Also, “Caress Me Down” makes us want to take a shower and never stop scrubbing.
Because, hey, with all these upstrokes, we need someone to remind us that, well, ska sucks. And who better than Propagandhi? They’ve been getting a little too cozy with their whole entry-level-poli-sci-punk-for-metalheads schtick, so, here, the least substantive song they’ve ever written.
Goldfinger are a total lake-hangs kind of band, until you watch one of their videos are realize they have a token goth-dude guitarist. Then, it’s like, “Pal, get your KMFDM off the beach.”
SCREECHING WEASEL—”Cool Kids”
By the time “Cool Kids” was released in the ’90s, Screeching Weasel were knee-deep in forgettable releases. But “Cool Kids” earned notoriety amongst the skate-cottage set, mostly because we didn’t listen to Screeching Weasel—we listened to Physical Fatness, which, in a way, was better than anything Ben Weasel and co. ever put out.
SIMPLE PLAN—”Just a Kid”
Is it ironic that the video for “Just a Kid” opens up on Pierre Bouvier’s well-oiled forehead wrinkles? Nah, man.
SMASH MOUTH—”All Star”
Somebody once told me… that pencil-thin chinstraps can save non-existent jawlines, that the kids are taking style cues from Chester the Cheetah (and so should you!), and that you can’t possibly go wrong with Ben Stiller cameos.
LESS THAN JAKE—”History of a Boring Town”
This song is relatable to cottage-country townies who get post-partum depression when the summer ends and all the kids depart for school, leaving them with nothing but an empty town and an even emptier hot tub.
Reset were Simple Plan’s forefathers, and it’s easy to see why they’re such a smash amongst the extreme watersports set. I mean, just look at these adrenaline-friendly song titles: There’s “No Intensity.” Or “Smash it Up.” Or “Break Point.” And “Wide Open.” Sure, they wrote a few political tracks—”Stolen Land,” anyone?—but don’t let that temper your roid rage.
If a Sublime shoulder tattoo is the ultimate cottage-bro tatty, a Pennywise emblem on your calf is the penultimate. And why not? They wrote “Bro Hymn,” which is exactly as described: It’s a hymn. For bros. And it’s so simple, you don’t need to know the words to sing it, which is helpful once you’re 17 Coors Light Iced Teas in.
NOT BY CHOICE—”Standing All Alone”
Really, guys? You opened your song with the lyrics “You take my breath away / With all those things you say?” Who brought these narcs to the party?