February 21, 2020

I’m not okay: Emo music is making a comeback

The cough at the beginning of “Dear Maria, Count Me In.” The iconic G note that starts “Welcome to the Black Parade.” The sharp inhale “MakeDamnSure.”

If you were an emo kid, those sounds are probably bringing back some memories from the depths (or maybe shallows) of your mind from back in middle and high school.

Emo music has gone through plenty of different phases since its start in the 1980s, but perhaps the most iconic emo era, however, was the “Hot Topic” emo that was popular from 2005 to 2015. This is what I call the “golden age” of emo.

Sleeping with Sirens, photo by Sydney Deibert.

During this time, a plethora of iconic bands released music and rose to popularity, like Bring me the Horizon, My Chemical Romance, Of Mice & Men, All Time Low, Sleeping With Sirens, and Pierce the Veil. 

And although those bands have different sounds—All Time Low is pop-punk whereas My Chemical Romance has more of a specific emo-punk vibe, for example—they were all largely listened to by the same crowd.

But a few years ago, it all seemed to drop off. 

Music was changing with the rise of pop and hip-hop, and those iconic bands from the golden age either stopped making music completely or changed their sound to something different; Bring me the Horizon did that with the release of the less aggressive albums That’s the Spirit and later amo, and like blink-182 did that with California and NINE. 

Emo shifted from the specific aggressive sounds and vibes we know and love to something different: more raw, acoustic bands like Modern Baseball and The Front Bottoms rose to popularity falling under the “new emo” genre. 

The Front Bottoms, photo by Sydney Deibert.

But lately, the old emo has been making a comeback. 

The obvious catalyst for this revival is My Chemical Romance’s comeback. In late 2019, they announced their first show in years. Following that announcement, everyone was feeling the same type of way that they were in MCR’s prime: emo as hell. 

After that, the dominos kept falling. All Time Low released a new single “Some Kind of Disaster” in January, Hayley Williams released solo music earlier this year, Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy went on The Price is Right, and Dashboard Confessional recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. 

Aside from these big artists doing big things, social media seems to be playing a part in the revival. 

The popularity of “e-boys” and “e-girls,” along with Tik Tok trends like those videos of people listening to music compilations and recognizing the songs and the videos making people listen to the beginning of “Welcome to the Black Parade,” seem to have helped the emo lifestyle rise back up to the surface. 

But with all of this sudden relevance, the question I’ve found myself asking is: How legitimate is this resurgence?

We all love a good bit of nostalgia, so when this resurgence first blossomed, it was easy to fall back into old habits. But while we all seemed to stray from our roots and start listening to different genres of music (for me, it was a lot of indie), were new emo bands on the rise?

From what I can tell, the answer is, for the most part, no. 

There are a couple of bands that sound similar to those from the golden age, like Bad Omens who give off Bring Me the Horizon-esque vibes and pop-punk powerhouse The Gospel Youth, but it seems that the emo genre was primarily put on pause for a few years. 

In a way, it seems like the genre came full circle. 

Jimmy Eat World, photo by Sydney Deibert

Before the golden age, popular emo bands consisted of lighter bands like Death Cab for Cutie and Jimmy Eat World, and bands that were popular before the resurgence are not-so-heavy twenty one pilots and The Neighbourhood. 

I’m not completely sure why this circle is repeating itself, or what it means. What I do know is that the emo kids are coming back, and you can count me in. 

  • Sydney is the managing editor at the Chimes and a senior professional writing and journalism major at Capital University pursuing a career arts and entertainment writing. Some of her favorite things are cold brew, books about dragons, horror films, and her cat, Sterling.

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