Punk culture as it is seen today started in the mid 1970s as a movement or rebellion against some styles of music which existed at the time such as Prog Rock and Heavy Metal whose stars were seen as out of touch with their fans. Followers of punkculture developed their own, dystopian styles of music, which were originally like underground, minimalist rock and roll. The Sex Pistols are a well known example of punk bands of this era.
Gradually punk became more varied and less minimalist with bands such as The Clash incorporating other underground musical influences like ska and rockabilly and even hip-hop into their music, but the message of the music remained the same; it was subversive, rebellious, politically incorrect and often anarchist . It dealt with topics such as problems facing society, oppression of the lower classes, etc. Punk culture was a message to society that all was not well and all were not identical.
Punk culture in the United Kingdom spilled over into North America in the 1980s and 1990s where people created a new musical style called hardcore which is known for faster, more aggressive beats than its European counterpart. Other styles emerged from this new genre including skate punk and straight edge Since the beginning of punk, major label record companies have tried to profit off of underground punk culture. For the most part this is met with much resistance because of the punk ethic of musical integrity which punks often feel is threatened by record label profit motivation.
Beginning in the late 1980sthe punk music of the Pacific Northwest of the United States began to be marketed as grunge . Successful grunge bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam began opening the general public up to sounds derivative of punk music. This early commercial success gave way to another very marketable style of punk called power-pop or pop-punk Examples of power-pop bands include Simple Plan, Good Charlotte and Sum 41.
Though these bands have very large followings, many people of the original punk subculture find this commercialization of punk disillusioning. They argue that punk is by definition unpopular (seeing pop punk as a contradiction in terms) and should remain that way because it provides a needed challenge to mainstream culture.