The “Tumblr era” of the music industry was very notorious between 2012 to 2015 and has left a permanent imprint on many teens raised during that time. In Austin Underground’s most recent episode, we stuck to a Tumblr music theme, highlighting the key influences in the music industry during this time. A notable band that made many appearances during our discussions was the Australian band 5 Seconds of Summer. This pop-punk band started their music career with Youtube covers in 2011 and gained major traction for their unique voices, style, and evidently their “good looks”. Their self-titled album had a grip on this era of music and caused them to gain an extreme amount of loyal followers, which mainly consisted of 11 to 18-year-old girls. I should know, I met Luke Hemmings at the prime age of 16.
Due to their quick rise to fame, many wondered how long it would last and if they were able to keep up. Proving those questions wrong, 5SOS has since released 3 albums and has one on the way. While they have “maintained” their success better than other artists who inevitably couldn't hold on to their Tumblr relevancy anymore and fell off, as we know, new content always brings new opinions. On April 1st, 5SOS released a new single, “Take My Hand” shortly after their first single in two years was released, “COMPLETE MESS,” signaling the start of a new 5 Seconds of Summer era. While many deprived fans were excited to finally get new music, others simply weren’t impressed.
While the new songs are not bad at all, criticism is high, especially from fans who have been with them for over the past decade. Many believe “Take My Hand” sounds like a generic pop song: it is good but nothing at all special. They’ve been known to change their style and sound; we were able to see this clearly after the release of their third album YoungBlood and their senior album CALM. So what has changed since then to leave such controversy? My answer to this question would be simple: their past style changes have always had a sliver of uniqueness, but these new songs don’t highlight the band’s true talents and values. This leaves people with a reason to believe 5 Seconds of Summer is selling their originality for views, which can be discouraging for fans who have seen them maintain their individual style for so long. Maybe hopes were just too high and criticism was inevitable, especially considering the pressure on artists from the Tumblr era to maintain relevance while continuing to entertain.
Maybe their haters are projecting, or maybe realizing that they don’t enjoy the same music they did at 14 is leaving them feeling old and nostalgic. Other fans are looking at this new change as a good thing, and they feel like they’re growing with every new era of this band. A new voice could be a good thing, though; maintaining the same style since 2011 would become boring and outdated very quickly. They started their music career at 17 years old. Has anyone considered that changing as you grow is a normal thing?
While I don't believe their new sound is the problem, I believe it's the specific sound the band has chosen. Change and growth are good, but many don't believe they’re going in the right direction. The uncertainty towards these new singles has left hesitation about their new album and tour. Many people bought their tickets pre-covid to hear the less controversial album CALM, so this sudden change in a setlist isn’t helping the nerves of many. While there are simple answers to this odd change in music, maybe they genuinely enjoy this new brand of music? They could possibly be hoping to find supporters who genuinely enjoy their new change instead of fans that feel that they have to be loyal after being so for 10 years. On the other hand, others believe it could be their time to call it quits; a star’s fire does burn out at some point and they had a good run. Personally, I believe many are jumping to conclusions quickly. While these singles aren’t my favorite out of 5SOS’ entire discography, I’ve been around long enough to know their singles don’t always reflect the rest of their albums. Well, I have VIP tickets for their concert in June, so let's hope so at least.