EMO EXPLAINED: WHAT IS/IS NOT EMO?!

Emo. A word that perhaps all teenagers in the 2000’s and 2010’s knew. Originally rather specific term, over time became blanket term covering everything alternative, used to describe things that are not at all EMO, people use it as an insult and some think that it should not be used at all.

WHAT IS EMO?

EMO is a style of music that has branched off from post-hardcore and punk at the end of 80’s and the beginning of 90, pioneered by bands such as Weezer, Jimmy Eat World, etc.

But what makes a band EMO? Is it the music itself or lyrics?

For me it is definitely lyrics. The music has its roots in rock and although we can argue whether certain guitar tones or riffs are purely emo, in music you will not find enough different characteristics to distinguish the melody of emo band from pop-punk etc. EMO music is mostly about vulnerabilities, emotions and introspective/confessional texts. The EMO stands for “emotional”.


Bands are not EMO just because their look. For example, Panic! At The Disco is not EMO, although they used to use black eye pencil long time ago. The people who mark them as EMO nowadays are practically spitting in the face of real EMO bands.

The so-called EMO kids started popping up at the end of 90’s and in the first decade of the 21st century century. Part was EMO only purely because of EMO fashion etc. and not so much for music.

I have no problem with the fact that EMO is both fashion style as well as musical genre, but it must be clearly distinguished. My Chemical Romance was referred to as EMO band, mainly because of how they looked like, but they alone, especially Gerard Way, could not stand the name.

The EMO kid sticket was assigned to anyone who had any psychological/emotional problems or struggled with self-harm – which is not fair. This was then blamed on the bands, “Oh she cuts because she listens to XY!” “Oh, and he committed suicide because he listens to XY!”.

Nowadays it is mostly clickbbait used by all sorts of Youtubers and influencers who have no idea what exactly EMO is.


My Chemical Romance, Twenty One Pilots, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco and others are not EMO. Perhaps especially their early creations had a touch of EMO or were influenced by another EMO band etc, but this band does not make EMO.

The bad use is already rooted in the pop culture, so one cannot not avoid it and the others will not learn it. But we must at least stop the new bands to mark the wrong;)

If you Are uncertain then the Internet offers an easy and quick solution to your problem – isthisbandemo.com.


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