I’m about to use a dirty word: emo. Yes, dirty indeed, as it’s become a particularly shameful thing to enjoy the emo genre. Much like the Grunge movement in the ‘90s, the term today is used to describe a particular fashion trend and attitude. It carries a negative stereotype used to generally describe a person who is constantly depressed, complaining that no one understands them and has a penchant for cutting. Not to mention, the fashion choices of perpetually tight, black clothing and uneven haircuts.
This stereotype gained mainstream popularity in the ‘00s with the success of bands such as My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday. Let’s go back to a time before all that, a time as recent as the late ‘90s and examine this genre.
If you were to look at some of the live performances of Mineral, or Sunny Day Real Estate, you’ll notice that the musicians aren’t dressed in typical emo fashion. At that time, appearance seemed to be not so important. The musicians were dressed in casual t-shirts and jeans like you would see from the average person engaged in recreational activities. Sure, a lot of the music is sad and expressed depression and discontent, but the music was the only noticeably emo thing in the room.
Also, the older emo bands had a different sound from the emo most people are familiar with; the music was often times softer, yet more powerful than something you would hear from Paramore or Fall Out Boy. The vocals were often sung meekly and melodic, picked guitar parts were ever-present in this style. The lyrics were more commonly sincere, bleeding-heart expressions on the ups and downs of life rather than lyrics that dealt directly with the topics of depression or suicide.
So, here is a playlist of songs from a time when emo wasn’t viewed as a social stigma. At that time, the most prominent aspect of the style was the musical style.