When I say “Emo”, what bands do you think of? What comes to mind first? For me, it’s Taking Back Sunday, Lostprophets, Hawthorne Heights, Senses Fail, The Used, Dashboard Confessional, hell, maybe even Panic! At the Disco and Fall Out Boy.
I often hear the phrase, “Emo is dead,” and it’s kinda true, but it seems to be coming back ever so slowly, and even though other artists and genres you wouldn’t think of. There’s a current rise in the “Emo Rap” genre with artists like Lil Peep, Juice WRLD, and UK-based BVDLVD. But what about the Emo we once knew from the 90s to mid-2000s?
To get to where we are now, let’s step back a little to the mid-80s and look back at the pioneers of the genre known as “Emotional Hardcore” with bands like Rites of Spring and Embrace, which sound more like Punk, but you can definitely hear the Emo undertones that we came to know later on with bands like early AFI. Later on in the 90s, Emo was shaped and reinvented by the emerging Pop Punk, Alternative and Indie Rock scenes where we got the more melodic sounds of Sunny Day Real Estate, Jimmy Eat World, and Jawbreaker. At the same time, “Screamo” was emerging which was heavily influenced by Hardcore Punk music and featured themes of emotional pain, death, romance, and the other typical things you think about when you hear the term “emo.”
Of course, you can’t talk about early Emo without mentioning Sunny Day Real Estate, but even if they weren’t really in my time (I was only 6 years old when they emerged), I can still appreciate how they paved the way for the bands I knew and loved later on when the genre became more “mainstream” with albums like Coheed and Cambria’s Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, My Chemical Romance’s Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and Fallout Boy’s From Under the Cork Tree.
But, where did Emo go? Did it just give way to more popular genres? Did it simply change in the way that music naturally does over time? Or is it just another forgotten era of music like Classical, Classic Rock, Disco, and Punk? Sure, there’s still new stuff out there but not nearly as prevalent as it was in the 2000s.
I’m going to admit that I didn’t really get into the genre until it was nearing its end in popularity with the aforementioned artists and albums like Still Searching by Senses Fail, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge from My Chemical Romance, and Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends.
I would like to mention a modern-day pioneer in the Emo genre and that’s Matt Cutshall, former singer in a boy band called It Boys. Matt is currently making waves in the Emo world with parody YouTube videos that feature Emo icons such as Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional and Yellowcard. He has also produced his own video recently, which is a parody, but it’s really well done and I kinda like it unironically. It’s called, “A Letter To Ashley” by Your Broken Hero and you can check it out here.
It’s uncertain to say what the future holds for the genre, but I’m hopeful to see a new wave as we had 15-20 years ago. Until then, the skinny jeans, eyeliner, Chuck Taylors, and band tees will stay hidden away.
Dig this? Check out the full archives of A.M. Radio, by Anthony Montalbano, here: https://vwmusicrocks.com/a-m-radio-archives/