NOTE: Do your best to ignore my spelling and grammer errors. I try, really I do. And no bashing emo until after reading the article or you'll look ignorant and I will laugh at you..er*cough*
Emo is often thought of as an untalented genre that is not worth listening too. Why? Because it is for overly emotional teens that like to cry about how their boyfriend dumped them or how they want to cut themselves. For this same reason, a bunch of trend following music media viewers, live, dress, and act "emo" just to prove they are worthy of listening to such music. But in all actuality, emo has nothing to do with any of the above. This article however will explain what the genre actually is and how the name "emo" became the abused word of the 90's and 00's.
Now most people probably assume emo is new or relitively new. This is wrong, emo bands have been around for roughly 20 years. The first, and most influential band (obviously) is Rites Of Spring. But before we get into bands, I will try and explain as quick and painlessly as possible how the sound devoloped and what it sounded like. It is essential to know that emo emerged from the genre of punk, more specifically hardcore punk. For those that are not familiar with that kind of music, it is fast, loud, and usually containing lyrical themes of politics and anger. Emo is different, but not to much. It is still fast, loud, but the lyrical themes tend to be more introspective and personal. The most important difference though, is the fact that it is more guitar-oriented and melodic. Emo is not nor was it ever generic pop-punk bands, pop rock bands, or acoustic pop bands, with emotional lyrics.
Hopefully you now have an idea of what emo sounded like when it first began, but like every genre, it has evolved. During the 80's, Rites Of Spring, Fugazi, Indian Summer, and Embrace, dominated the emo scene, their sound fit the discription above fairly well, though each band had its own unique sound as all good bands do. During the 90s bands like Drive Like Jehu, Samiam, Texas Is The Reason, The Promise Ring, Jawbox, Sunny Day Real Estate, Angel Hair, Mineral, Elliot, and many other bands surfaced. The sound of some of these were heavily influenced by grunge, while others went from the underground punk scene to a more indie rock scene. Still all of these bands can be identified with those of their roots. Today (00's), more or less, emo has not changed much. Bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Fugazi, the Promise Ring, Appleseed Cast, Cursive, The Fire Theft, ect. have released solid records, none of which are related to what is widely called emo by silly cooperations, though I won't name names.
You are probably wondering how emo could so widely be mistaken as something else. And if your not, just pretend, because I am going to explain just how that happened either way.
One cause is mainstream bands brought the term with them. The best example of this, in my opinion, is Jimmy Eat World. They released the album Clarity in 1999 before dramatically changing in sound and becoming popular. Clarity, though it is arguable, is considered a true emo album. Because of this, the label of emo was carried with them even though today they are clearly a pop-punk band. Another example of a mainstream band that took the term emo is Taking Back Sunday. They have made it clear that Fugazi is huge influence in their music, but that is not to be confused with the fact their music is far to simple and poppy to be considered emo.
Another cause is what lead to the actual trend of what some refer to as emo. The emo scene in the 80's, like many other genres that carry a scene, had the general attitude. It was anti-consumer. This is where the idea of thrift store clothes and dorky glasses came from. It was cheap and usually ill fitting. Today this idea has been commercialed, making it completely contradictory to what it had been, which ironically seems to be the theme in the seemingly identical generic bands coming out of no where today calling themselves emo.
I hope this article will stop those who stupidily make fun of what the media portrays as emo, (actually it's sort of amusing but w/e) but most importantly will wake up some of those who blindly follow this trend giving an entire genre a bad name. And for those who already knew everything I said..um..cool? Anyway, the next time you hear Fall Out Boy, Senses Fail, Bright Eyes, Dashboard Confessional, Hawthorne Heights, The Matches, Funeral For A Friend, The Used, or anything that sounds remotely like that you will confidentily be able to say to yourself that the noise making your ears bleed, or the tunes you cry along to, are not emo.