What Is "Emo" And Why Is Everyone Talking About It?
Whether the word "emo" has you reaching for the black hair dye and eyeliner, or running for the nearest exit, it's hard to deny that it's the teen culture genre of the moment. And like so many music terms used and abused, we've reached the point where nobody is really sure what "emo" means or exactly who is doing it. Here's our attempt to make a bit of sense of it all.
Origin: Emo is a style of rock music characterized by melodic music/rhythm and expressive, often confessional lyrics. It originated in the mid-1980s hardcore punk-movement of Washington, D.C., where it was known as "emotional hardcore" or "emocore" and pioneered by bands such as Rites of Spring and Embrace. As the style was echoed by contemporary American punk rock bands, its sound and meaning shifted and changed, blending with pop punk and indie rock and encapsulated in the early 1990s by groups such as Jawbreaker and Sunny Day Real Estate.
Emo broke into mainstream culture in the early 2000s with the platinum-selling success of “Jimmy Eat World” and “Dashboard Confessional” and the emergence of the subgenre "Screamo". Origins Edit
The modern Emo is the spawn of Kurt Cobain, frontman for the 90s hard rock band Nirvana. Nirvana had many great hits, including weird songs and teenage anthems such as "Smells like Teen Spirit". He married Courtney Love (at the time she was herself in a band called "Hole"). He committed suicide. Since then, Emos have tried to follow in his footsteps, wearing black, slitting their wrists, you know the sort. Since 90s, it has been discovered, after little research at all, that everyone knows at least one person who is an emo.
The true definition?
Originally, emo was a genre of music in the late 80's and early 90's. That form of music has been lost, and we now have modern emo. You hear a lot of whining from these original "emo" guys, but the truth is, emo does not mean what it meant a decade ago. Honestly, gay used to mean happy, and it sure doesn't mean that now. So those who are against the present day meanings may need to learn to move on. More amazing than modern emo's sound is the fashion.
Modern Emo: In recent years the term "emo" has been applied by critics and journalists to a variety of artists, including multiplatinum acts and groups with disparate styles and sounds.In addition to music, "emo" is often used more generally to signify a particular relationship between fans and artists, and to describe related aspects of fashion, culture, and behavior. "Emo" is slang for emotional rocker. Or so it is thought. Emo is the term used to describe a person who is undesirably depressing, causing you not to want them in the nearby vicinity. Emos are the number one cause of suicide in most of the countries of the Earth.
Music: "Emo pop," also called "emo pop punk," emerged as an offshoot from “emo” that also embraces pop music influences, such as more concise songs and hook (catchy) filled choruses. Allmusic describes the style as blending "youthful angst" with "slick production" and mainstream appeal, using "high-pitched melodies, rhythmic guitars, and lyrics concerning adolescence, relationships, and heartbreak." Britain's The Guardian described the style as a cross between "saccharine boy-band pop" and emo. Modern emo pop bands have toned down extremities in loud/soft variations to provide a more widespread appeal.
What is Screamo: However, "Emo" is not all based on this softer variation. There are many new bands that have retained the heavier more dynamic classic emo sound to some extent, with a strong focus on loud/soft dynamics and dramatic vocals. These bands are frequently referred to as "screamo". Screamo is a sub genre of emo, which is mainly used by younger fans who weren't around when the screaming vocal thing was new and unique. Screamo is the music of choice for the new subculture known as "scene". It's all very confusing!
Many of the newer bands actually combine the dynamic screamo sound with the softer post emo indie rock style and add further elements to the mix. These could include Thursday, Underoath, Silverstein, Alexisonfire, Atreyu, Bring Me The Horizon, Bullet For My Valentine, Aiden, Chiodos, From First To Last, Funeral For A Friend, Story Of The Year, etc...
Fashion and stereotype
Today emo is commonly tied to both music and fashion as well as the emo subculture. Usually among teens, the term "emo" is stereotyped with wearing close-fitting jeans, sometimes in bright colors, and tight T-shirts (usually short-sleeved) which often bear the names of emo bands. Studded belts and black wristbands can be accessories in emo fashion. Some males can also be often wearing thick, black horn-rimmed glasses.
The emo fashion is also recognized for its hairstyles. Popular looks include thin, flat and smooth hair with lots of hair on the sides and back of the head with long side-swept bangs, sometimes covering one or both eyes. Also popular is hair that is straightened or dyed black. Bright colors, such as blue, pink, red, or bleached blond, are also typical as highlights in emo hairstyles. Short, choppy layers of hair are also common. This fashion has at times been characterized as a fad.
Wrapping Things Up...at Last!
You have to admire emo's ability to remain raw and risk being made fun of. When people are devoting themselves to soulless pop, it's refreshing to see something relating to kids on a gut level. Everyone who is serious about music would love to see the public embrace intelligent, heartfelt music rather than manufactured, dumbed-down tripe. A lot of Emo music' sense of urgency, sincerity and melody are exactly what is missing from a lot of modern music.
The emo of today is clearly different to the original emo sound invented over two decades ago and both are loved by many worldwide. Try to put up with all the genre confusion and if you are into new "emo" bands like Fall Out Boy please educate yourself by listening to the bands that kicked off the whole movement. The influence on the modern emo sound should be obvious so you'll probably enjoy these bands as well.
Finally take note of these basic points:
Do not fall for stereotypes; Emo music isn't about being "depressed" or "suicidal". It is about expressing emotion, whatever that emotion may be.
Once you find some emo bands that you like, go to their shows. You'll be able to meet other fans and discover new bands through them too.
If this type of music isn't your thing, don't force it and be a "fake". You may develop an appreciation for it in the future.