|Stylistic origins||Hardcore punk|
|Cultural origins||Mid-1980s Washington, D.C.|
|Typical instruments||Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, drum kit|
|Washington, D.C. · Midwestern and Central United States · New Jersey and Long Island|
|List of emo artists · timeline of alternative rock|
Template:Portal Emo (Template:IPAc-en) is a style of rock music characterized by melodic musicianship 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. By the mid 1990s numerous emo acts emerged from the Midwestern and Central United States, and several independent record labels began to specialize in the style.
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". 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.
The exact origins of the term "emo" are uncertain, but date back to at least 1985. According to Andy Greenwald, author of Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo, "The origins of the term 'emo' are shrouded in mystery [...] but it first came into common practice in 1985. If Minor Threat was hardcore, then Rites of Spring, with its altered focus, was emotional hardcore or emocore." Michael Azerrad, author of Our Band Could Be Your Life, also traces the word's origins to this time: "The style was soon dubbed 'emo-core,' a term everyone involved bitterly detested, although the term and the approach thrived for at least another fifteen years, spawning countless bands." MacKaye also traces it to 1985, attributing it to an article in Thrasher magazine referring to Embrace and other Washington, D.C. bands as "emo-core", which he called "the stupidest fucking thing I've ever heard in my entire life." Other accounts attribute the term to an audience member at an Embrace show, who yelled that the band was "emocore" as an insult. Others contend that MacKaye coined the term when he used it self-mockingly in a magazine, or that it originated with Rites of Spring. The Oxford English Dictionary, however, dates the earliest usage of "emo-core" to 1992 and "emo" to 1993, with "emo" first appearing in print media in New Musical Express in 1995.
The "emocore" label quickly spread around the Washington, D.C. punk scene and became attached to many of the bands associated with MacKaye's Dischord Records label. Although many of these bands simultaneously rejected the term, it stuck nonetheless. Scene veteran Jenny Toomey has recalled that "The only people who used it at first were the ones that were jealous over how big and fanatical a scene it was. [Rites of Spring] existed well before the term did and they hated it. But there was this weird moment, like when people started calling music 'grunge,' where you were using the term even though you hated it."
The Washington, D.C. emo scene lasted only a few years. By 1986 most of the major bands of the movement—including Rites of Spring, Embrace, Gray Matter, and Beefeater—had broken up. Even so, the ideas and aesthetics originating from the scene spread quickly across the country via a network of homemade zines, vinyl records, and hearsay. According to Greenwald, the Washington, D.C. scene laid the groundwork for all subsequent incarnations of emo:
What had happened in D.C. in the mid-eighties—the shift from anger to action, from extroverted rage to internal turmoil, from an individualized mass to a mass of individuals—was in many ways a test case for the transformation of the national punk scene over the next two decades. The imagery, the power of the music, the way people responded to it, and the way the bands burned out instead of fading away—all have their origins in those first few performances by Rites of Spring. The roots of emo were laid, however unintentionally, by fifty or so people in the nation's capital. And in some ways, it was never as good and surely never as pure again. Certainly, the Washington scene was the only time "emocore" had any consensus definition as a genre.
MacKaye and Piccioto, along with Rites of Spring drummer Brendan Canty, went on to form the highly influential Fugazi who, despite sometimes being connected with the term "emo", are not commonly recognized as an emo band.
Reinvention: early 1990sEdit
As the ideals of the Washington, D.C. emo movement spread across the United States, many bands in numerous local scenes began to emulate the sound as a way to marry the intensity of hardcore with the complex emotions associated with growing older. The style combined the fatalism, theatricality, and outsiderness of The Smiths with the uncompromising and dramatic worldview of hardcore. Although the bands were numerous and the locales varied, the aesthetics of emocore in the late 1980s remained more or less the same: "over-the-top lyrics about feelings wedded to dramatic but decidedly punk music." However, in the early 1990s, several new bands reinvented the emo style and carried its core characteristic, the intimacy between bands and fans, into the new decade. Chief among these were Jawbreaker and Sunny Day Real Estate, both of whom fostered cult followings, recontextualized the word "emo", and brought it a step closer to the mainstream. According to Andy Greenwald:
Sunny Day Real Estate was emo's head and Jawbreaker its busted gut—the two overlapped in the heart, then broke up before they made it big. Each had a lasting impact on the world of independent music. The bands shared little else but fans, and yet somehow the combination of the two lays down a fairly effective blueprint for everything that was labeled emo for the next decade.
In the wake of the 1991 success of Nirvana's Nevermind, underground music and subcultures in the United States became big business. New distribution networks emerged, touring routes were codified, and regional and independent acts were able to access the national stage. Teenagers across the country declared themselves fans of independent music, and being punk became mainstream. In this new musical climate, the aesthetics of emo expanded into the mainstream and altered the way the music was perceived: "Punk rock no-nos like the cult of personality and artistic abstraction suddenly become de rigueur", says Greenwald. "If one definition of emo has always been music that felt like a secret, Jawbreaker and Sunny Day Real Estate were cast in the rolls of the biggest gossips of all, reigning as the largest influences on every emo band that came after them."
Underground popularity: mid 1990sEdit
In the mid-1990s the American punk and indie rock movements, which had been largely underground since the early 1980s, became part of mainstream culture. After Nirvana's success, major record labels capitalized on the popularity of alternative rock and other underground music by signing numerous independent bands and spending large amounts of capital promoting them. In 1994, the same year that Jawbreaker's 24 Hour Revenge Therapy and Sunny Day Real Estate's Diary were released, pop punk acts Green Day and The Offspring had mutiplatinum successes with their respective albums Dookie and Smash. In the wake of the underground going mainstream, over the next several years emo as a genre retreated, reformed, and morphed into a national subculture, then eventually something more. Drawing inspiration from bands like Jawbreaker, Drive Like Jehu, and Fugazi, the new sound of emo was a mixture of hardcore's passion and indie rock's intelligence, bearing the anthemic power of punk rock and its do-it-yourself work ethic but with smoother songs, sloppier melodies, and yearning vocals. Many of the new emo bands originated from the Midwestern and Central United States, such as Braid from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, Christie Front Drive from Denver, Colorado, Mineral from Austin, Texas, Jimmy Eat World from Mesa, Arizona, The Get Up Kids from Kansas City, Missouri, and The Promise Ring from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. According to Andy Greenwald, "This was the period when emo earned many, if not all, of the stereotypes that have lasted to this day: boy-driven, glasses-wearing, overly sensitive, overly brainy, chiming-guitar-driven college music."
The Promise Ring were one of the premier bands of the new emo style. Their music took a slower, smoother, pop punk approach to hardcore riffs, blending them with singer Davey von Bohlen's goofy, picturesque lyrics delivered with a froggy croon and pronounced lisp, and they played shows in basements and VFW halls Jade Tree released their debut 30° Everywhere in 1996 and it sold tens of thousands of copies, a blockbuster by independent standards. Greenwald describes the effect of the album as "like being hit in the head with cotton candy." Other bands such as Karate, The Van Pelt, Joan of Arc, and The Shyness Clinic incorporated elements of post-rock and noise rock into the emo sound. The common lyrical thread between these bands was "applying big questions to small scenarios."
Independent success: late 1990s and early 2000sEdit
Beginning in the late 1990s emo had a surge of popularity in the realm of independent music, as a number of notable acts and record labels experienced successes that would lay the foundation for the style's later mainstream breakthrough. As emo gained a larger fanbase the music business began see its marketing potential, and as big business entered the picture many of the acts previously associated with the term intentionally distanced themselves from it:
As the '90s wore to a close, the music that was being labeled emo was making a connection with a larger and larger group of people. the aspects of it that were the most contagious—the sensitivity, hooks, and average-guy appeal—were also the easiest to latch onto, replicate, and mass market. As with any phenomenon—exactly like what happened with Sunny Day [Real Estate]—when business enters into a high-stakes, highly personal sphere, things tend to go awry very quickly [...] As fans threatened to storm the emo bandwagon, the groups couldn't jump off of it fast enough. The popularity and bankability of the word—if not the music—transformed an affiliation with the mid-nineties version of emo into an albatross.
In 1997 Deep Elm Records launched a series of compilation albums entitled The Emo Diaries, which continued until 2007 with eleven installments. Featuring mostly unreleased music from unsigned bands, the series included acts such as Jimmy Eat World, Further Seems Forever, Samiam, and The Movielife. The diversity of bands and musical styles made the case for emo as more of a shared aesthetic than a genre, and the series helped to codify the term "emo" and spread it throughout the community of underground music.
Drive-Thru Records, founded in 1996, steadily built up a roster of primarily pop punk bands with emo characteristics such as Midtown, The Starting Line, The Movielife, and Something Corporate. Drive-Thru's partnership with major label MCA enabled their brand of emo-inflected pop to reach wider audiences. The label's biggest early success was New Found Glory, whose 2000 eponymous album reached No. 107 on the Billboard 200 with the single "Hit or Miss" reaching No. 15 on Modern Rock Tracks. Drive-Thru's unabashedly populist and capitalist approach to music allowed its bands' albums and merchandise to sell heavily through popular outlets such as Hot Topic:
In a world where cars are advertised as punk, Green Day members are platinum rock stars, and getting pierced and tatted up is as natural as a sweet-sixteen party, everyone is free to come up with their own definition of punk—and everyone is ready to embrace it. Emo had always connected with young people—it had just never aggressively marketed itself to them.
Mainstream popularity: 2000sEdit
The media business, so desperate for its self-obsessed, post-9/11 predictions of a return to austerity and the death of irony to come true, had found its next big thing. But it was barely a "thing," because no one had heard of it, and those who had couldn't define it. Despite the fact that the hedonistic, materialistic hip-hop of Nelly was still dominating the charts, magazine readers in the summer of '02 were informed that the nation was deep in an introverted healing process, and the way it was healing was by wearing thick black glasses and vintage striped shirts. Emo, we were told, would heal us all through fashion.
In the wake of this success, many emo bands were signed to major record labels and the style became a marketable product. Dreamworks Records senior A&R representative Luke Wood remarked that "The industry really does look at emo as the new raprock, or the new grunge. I don't think that anyone is listening to the music that's being made—they're thinking of how they're going to take advantage of the sound's popularity at retail." The depoliticized nature of emo, coupled with its catchy music and accessible themes, gave it a broad appeal to young mainstream audiences.
At the same time, a darker, more aggressive offshoot of emo gained popularity. New Jersey–based Thursday signed a multi-million-dollar, multialbum contract with Island Def Jam on the strength of their 2001 album Full Collapse, which reached No. 178 on the Billboard 200. Their music differed from the prominent emo bands of the time in that it was more politicized and lacked dominant pop hooks and anthems, drawing influence from more maudlin bands such as The Smiths, Joy Division, and The Cure. However, the band's accessibility, openness, basement-show roots, and touring alongside bands like Saves the Day made them part of the emo movement.
The term "screamo" was initially applied to a more aggressive offshoot of emo that developed in San Diego in 1991, which used short songs that grafted "spastic intensity to willfully experimental dissonance and dynamics." Screamo is a particularly dissonant style of emo influenced by hardcore punk and uses typical rock instrumentation, but is noted for its brief compositions, chaotic execution, and screaming vocals. The genre is "generally based in the aggressive side of the overarching punk-revival scene." The style began in 1991, in San Diego, at the Ché Café, with groups such as Heroin, Antioch Arrow, Angel Hair, Mohinder, Swing Kids, and Portraits of Past. These groups were influenced by Washington D.C. post-hardcore (particularly Fugazi and Nation of Ulysses), straight edge, the Chicago group Articles of Faith, hardcore punk band Die Kreuzen and post-punk, such as Joy Division and Bauhaus.
Some bands that formed in the United States during the late 1990s and remained active throughout the 2000s, such as Thursday, Thrice, and Poison the Well made screamo much more popular. Many of these bands took influence from the likes of Refused and At the Drive-In. By the mid-2000s, the over-saturation of the screamo scene caused many bands to purposefully expand past the genre's trademarks and incorporate more experimental elements. Even bands that weren't necessarily screamo would often use the style's characteristic guttural vocal style. Derek Miller, guitarist for the post-hardcore band Poison the Well, claimed that the term screamo "describes a thousand different genres." According to Jeff Mitchell of Iowa State Daily, "there is no set definition of what screamo sounds like but screaming over once deafeningly loud rocking noise and suddenly quiet, melodic guitar lines is a theme commonly affiliated with the genre." Juan Gabe, vocalist for the band Comadre, alleged that the term "has been kind of tainted in a way, especially in the States."
"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 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.
As emo became more successful in the mid-1990s due to the rise of grunge, emo pop was developed by bands such as The Wrens, which pioneered a form of emo-pop on 1996's Secaucus, and Weezer, which in 1996 released the definitive emo pop album Pinkerton. Other bands which put out emo pop releases in the 90s included Sense Field, Jejune, Alkaline Trio, and The Get Up Kids. As emo became commercially successful in the early 2000s, the emo pop movement was birthed by Jimmy Eat World's 2001 release Bleed American and the success of that album's single "The Middle". Genre pioneers Weezer and The Wrens both saw great success in this new movement, the former with its release The Green Album and the latter with Meadowlands, which "reinvented punk-pop for the new generation".
As the genre coalesced, the record label Fueled by Ramen became a center of the movement, releasing platinum selling albums from bands like Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, and Paramore. Two main regional scenes developed; in Florida the scene was created by the label Fueled by Ramen and the band Dashboard Confessional, and in the Midwest emo-pop was promoted by Pete Wentz, whose band Fall Out Boy rose to the front of the style in the mid-2000s. In 2008, the band Cash Cash released Take It to the Floor, which Allmusic stated could be "the definitive statement of airheaded, glittery, and content-free emo-pop". Allmusic further stated that with this release "the transformation of emo from the expression of intensely felt, ripped-from-the-throat feelings played by bands directly influenced by post-punk and hardcore to mall-friendly Day-Glo pop played by kids who look about as authentic as the "punks" on an old episode of Quincy did back in the '70s was made pretty much complete".
Fashion and stereotypeEdit
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. However, in the early 2000s, emo fashion was associated with a clean cut look instead, but changed as it spread to teens.
Emo has been associated with a stereotype that includes being particularly emotional, sensitive, shy, introverted, or angst-ridden. It has also been associated with depression, self-injury, and suicide.
Criticism and controversyEdit
Emo has been criticized for its androcentrism. Andy Greenwald notes that there are very few women in emo bands, and that even those few do not typically have an active voice in the songs' subject matter: "Though emo—and to a certain degree, punk—has always been a typically male province, the monotony of the labels' gender perspective can be overwhelming." The triumph of the "lonely boy's aesthetic" in emo, coupled with the style's popularity, has led to a litany of one-sided songs in which males vent their fury at the women who have wronged them: Some emo bands' lyrics disguise violent anti-women sentiments in a veneer of pop music. However, despite emo's frequent portrayal of women as powerless victims, fans of the style are from both genders, and some acts have even greater popularity with women than with men. One explanation for this is that the unifying appeal of emo, its expression of emotional devastation, can be appreciated equally by both sexes regardless of the songs' specific subjects.
The genre emo inspired a backlash movement in response to its rapid growth. Several bands considered to be "emo" rejected the label for the social stigma and controversy surrounding it. Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman stated that there was a "real backlash" among bands on the tour towards emo groups, but he dismissed the hostility as "juvenile" in nature. The movement grew with intensity over time. Time reported in 2008 that "anti-emo" groups attacked teenagers in Mexico City, Querétaro, and Tijuana.
In Russia, a law was presented at the Duma to regulate emo websites and forbid emo style at schools and government buildings, for fears of emo being a "dangerous teen trend" promoting anti-social behaviour, depression, social withdrawal and even suicide.
In May 2010 in Saudi Arabia, the religious police in the city of Dammam arrested 10 emo girls for allegedly offensive un-Islamic behaviour and dress. In March 2012 reports by human rights activists suggested that, in a single month, Shia militias in Iraq had shot or beaten to death up to 58 young Iraqi emos.
Emo music has been blamed for the suicide by hanging of teenager Hannah Bond by both the coroner at the inquest into her death and her mother, Heather Bond, after it was claimed that emo music glamorized suicide and her apparent obsession with My Chemical Romance was said to be linked to her suicide. The inquest heard that she was part of an Internet "emo cult"  and her Bebo page contained an image of an "emo girl" with bloody wrists. It also heard that she had discussed the "glamour" of hanging online and had explained to her parents that her self harming was an "emo initiation ceremony". Heather Bond criticised emo fashion, saying: "There are 'emo' websites that show pink teddies hanging themselves." After the verdict was reported in NME, fans of emo music contacted the magazine to defend against accusations that it promotes self-harm and suicide.
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- ↑ Template:Cite video
- ↑ http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2002/Jan/08/il/il01a.html
- ↑ http://emo-fever.com/emo-clothing.htm
- ↑ http://www.kidzworld.com/article/24134-fashion-how-to-go-emo#
- ↑ http://emo-fever.com/emo-hair.htm
- ↑ Poretta, JP (2007-03-03). Cheer up Emo Kid, It's a Brand New Day. The Fairfield Mirror. Retrieved on March 8, 2007.
- ↑ Geek chic look is clean cut. The.honoluluadvertiser.com (2002-01-08). Retrieved on July 30, 2011.
- ↑ La Gorce, Tammy (2007-08-14). "Finding Emo". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/14/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/14njCOVER.html?pagewanted=1. Retrieved 2007-10-20.
- ↑ Bunning, Shane (2006-06-08). The attack of the clones: an emo-lution in the fashion industry. Newspace, University of Queensland, School of Journalism and Communication.. Retrieved on October 20, 2007.
- ↑ Stiernberg, Bonnie (2007-03-13). What is emo?. The Daily illini. Retrieved on October 20, 2007.
- ↑ Sands, Sarah (August 16, 2006). "EMO cult warning for parents". The Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=400953&in_page_id=1770. Retrieved 2007-03-11.
- ↑ Walsh, Jeremy (2007-10-18). Bayside takes Manhattan. Queens Time Ledger. Archived from the original on 2007-10-21. Retrieved on October 20, 2007.
- ↑ Greenwald, pp. 133–134.
- ↑ 134.0 134.1 Greenwald, p. 133.
- ↑ Greenwald, p. 135.
- ↑ Greenwald, pp. 137–138.
- ↑ Greenwald, p. 139.
- ↑ Allmusic ((( Panic at the Disco - Biography )))
- ↑ Panic! At The Disco declare emo "Bullshit!" The band reject "weak" stereotype. NME (2006-10-18). Retrieved on August 10, 2008.
- ↑ Brett Sowerby (2007-09-20). My Chemical Romance talks to The 'Campus. "The Maine Campus". Archived from the original on 2008-06-17. Retrieved on August 10, 2008.
- ↑ Pretty. Odd. : Panic at the Disco : Review. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on July 30, 2011.
- ↑ Matt Diehl (2007). My So-Called Punk. Macmillan. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-312-33781-0. http://books.google.com/?id=fyXcnhLCZPoC&pg=PT94&dq=emo+music.
- ↑ Grillo, Ioan. "Mexico's Emo-Bashing Problem." Time. Thursday March 27, 2008. Retrieved on May 12, 2009.
- ↑ Anti-EMO Attacks in Tijuana. Thedailyswarm.com (2008-03-29). Retrieved on July 30, 2011.
- ↑ Emo to be made illegal in Russia? New laws planned to stop 'dangerous teen trends'. NME (2008-07-23). Retrieved on September 29, 2008.
- ↑ Sean Michaels (2008-07-21). "Russia wages war on emo kids". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2008/jul/22/russian.emo. Retrieved 2008-09-29.
- ↑ Saudi 'emo' girls busted by religious cops: report. Breitbart.com (2010-05-22). Retrieved on July 30, 2011.
- ↑ "Iraqi 'emo' youths reportedly killed by conservative militias". BBC. 2012-03-11. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17333275. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- ↑ 149.0 149.1 Clench, James (2008-05-08). "Suicide of Hannah, the secret 'emo'". The Sun. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article1138968.ece.
- ↑ 150.0 150.1 Emo music attacked over teen suicide. NME (2008-05-08).
- ↑ Emo fans defend their music against suicide claims. NME (2008-05-08).
- Andersen, Mark (2001). Dance of Days, Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capitol. Soft Skull Press. ISBN 1-887128-49-2.
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