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Emo (Template:PronEng) is a style of rock music typically 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 by contemporary American punk 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 more aggressive subgenre "screamo". In recent years the term "emo" has been applied by critics and journalists to a variety of artists, including multiplatinum acts such as Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance and disparate groups such as Coheed and Cambria and Panic at the Disco.

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 emerged from the hardcore punk scene of early-1980s Washington, D.C., both as a reaction to the increased violence within the scene and as an extension of the personal politics espoused by Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat, who had turned the focus of the music from the community back towards the individual.[1][2] Minor Threat fan Guy Picciotto formed Rites of Spring in 1984, breaking free of hardcore's self-imposed boundaries in favor of melodic, varied rhythms and deeply personal, impassioned lyrics.[3] Many of the band's themes would become familiar tropes in later generations of emo music, including nostalgia, romantic bitterness, and poetic desperation.[4] Their performances became public emotional purges where audience members would sometimes weep.[5] MacKaye became a huge Rites of Spring fan, recording their only album and serving as their roadie on tour, and soon formed a new band of his own called Embrace which explored similar themes of self-searching and emotional release.[6] Similar bands soon followed such as Gray Matter, Beefeater, Fire Party, Dag Nasty, and Kingface.[2][6] These bands were part of the "Revolution Summer" of 1985, a deliberate attempt by members of the Washington, D.C. scene to break from the rigid constraints of hardcore in favor of a renewed spirit of creativity.[2]

Where the term emo actually originated is uncertain: the earliest print citation found so far appears in 1997,[7] although some claim that members of Rites of Spring mentioned in a 1985 Flipside Magazine interview that some of their fans had started using the term to describe their music.Template:Fact

Within a short time, the D.C. emo sound began to influence other bands such as Moss Icon, Nation of Ulysses, Dag Nasty, Soulside, Shudder to Think, Fire Party, Marginal Man, Foundation and Gray Matter, many of which were released on MacKaye's Dischord Records.

At the same time, in the New York/New Jersey area, bands such as Native Nod, Policy of 3, Rye Coalition, and Quicksand[8] were feeling the same impulse. Many of these bands were involved with the ABC No Rio club scene in New York, itself a response to the violence and stagnation in the scene and with the bands that played at CBGBs, the only other small venue for hardcore in New York at the time.

Following the disbanding of Embrace in 1986, MacKaye established the influential group Fugazi, and was soon joined by Picciotto. While Fugazi itself is not typically categorized as emo, the band's music is cited as an influence by popular second-wave bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate,[9] Far,[10] Braid,[11] and Jimmy Eat World.[12]

Second wave (1994–2000)Edit

As Fugazi and the Dischord Records scene became increasingly popular in the indie underground of the early 1990s, new bands began to spring up.

Diary was released by Sunny Day Real Estate in 1994. The band performed on TV shows, including The Jon Stewart Show.

Inspired by Fugazi and Sunny Day Real Estate, Jimmy Eat World released the album Static Prevails in 1996 on Capitol Records.

A Cornerstone of the late-Nineties emo movement was Weezer's 1996 album Pinkerton, which was to be considered one of the defining emo records of the 90s and was said to have introduced emo to a larger and more mainstream audience.[13][14]

In 1997, Deep Elm Records released the first installment in a series of compilations called Emo Diaries, featuring tracks from Jimmy Eat World, Samiam, and Jejune.

Mainstream emo (2000–present)Edit

While Jimmy Eat World had played emocore-style music early in their career, by the time of the release of their 2001 album Bleed American, the band had downplayed its emo influences, releasing more pop-oriented singles such as "The Middle" and "Sweetness". Newer bands that sounded like Jimmy Eat World (and, in some cases, like the more melodic emo bands of the late 90s) were soon included in the genre.[15]

2003 saw the success of Chris Carrabba, the former singer of emo band Further Seems Forever, and his project Dashboard Confessional. Carraba found himself part of the emerging "popular" emo scene. Carrabba's music featured lyrics founded in deep diary-like outpourings of emotion. While certainly emotional, the new "emo" had a far greater appeal amongst adolescents than its earlier incarnations.[16]

At the same time, use of the term "emo" expanded beyond the musical genre, which added to the confusion surrounding the term. The word "emo" became associated with open displays of strong emotion. Common fashion styles and attitudes that were becoming idiomatic of fans of similar "emo" bands also began to be referred to as "emo." As a result, bands that were loosely associated with "emo" trends or simply demonstrated emotion began to be referred to as emo.[17]

In a strange twist, screamo, a more aggressive sub-genre of emo that began in the early 90s, also had a reformulation of sound and has found greater popularity in recent years through bands such as Glassjaw.[18]

The difficulty in defining "emo" as a genre may have started at the very beginning. In a 2003 interview by Mark Prindle, Guy Picciotto of Fugazi and Rites of Spring was asked how he felt about "being the creator of the emo genre." He responded:

I don't recognize that attribution. I've never recognized "emo" as a genre of music. I always thought it was the most retarded term ever. I know there is this generic commonplace that every band that gets labeled with that term hates it. They feel scandalized by it. But honestly, I just thought that all the bands I played in were punk rock bands. The reason I think it's so stupid is that—what, like the Bad Brains weren't emotional? What—they were robots or something? It just doesn't make any sense to me.

Fashion and stereotypeEdit

Today emo is commonly tied to both music and fashion as well as an inspiration toward the emo subculture,[19] and the term "emo" is sometimes stereotyped with tight jeans on males and females alike, long fringe (bangs) brushed to one side of the face or over one or both eyes, dyed black, straight hair, tight t-shirts (usually short-sleeved) which often bear the names of emo bands (or other designer shirts), studded belts, belt buckles, canvas sneakers or skate shoes or other black shoes and thick, black horn-rimmed glasses.[20][21][22] This fashion has at times been characterized as a fad.[23] Early on, emo fashion was associated with a clean cut look[24] but as the style spread to younger teenagers, the style has become darker, with long bangs and emphasis on the colour black replacing sweater vest In recent years the popular media have associated emo with a stereotype that includes being emotional, sensitive, shy, introverted, or angst-ridden.[25][26][27] It is also associated with depression, self-injury, and suicide.[28][29]


Warped Tour founder, Kevin Lyman stated that he believes there is an emo backlash saying that he sees "I hate emo" t-shirts and that there was hostility among bands on the tour towards emo groups.[30]

In 2008, Time Magazine reported that "anti-emo" groups attacked teenagers in Mexico City, Querétaro, and Tijuana.[31][32] One of Mexico's foremost critics of emo was Kristoff, a music presenter on the popular TV channel Telehit.

Gerard Way, the lead singer of My Chemical Romance stated in an interview "emo is a pile of shit", and that his "band was never emo".[33][34] Panic at the Disco also stated in an interview with NME: "emo is bullshit."[35] These two bands, however, tend to be classified as emo.

Fans of emo are criticizedTemplate:Who for purported displays of emotion common in the scene. Complaints claimed that emotions were expressed in an histrionic manner.[36]

Justin Jacobs has criticised emo music of the early 2000s, arguing it became boring and generic.[37]

Emo music has been blamed for the suicide by hanging of 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 [38] and her Bebo page contained an image of an 'emo girl' with bloody wrists.[39] It also heard that she had discussed the "glamour" of hanging online[38] and had explained to her parents that her self harming was an "emo initiation ceremony".[39] 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.[40]

In Russia, a law has been 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.[41][42]

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