When the word “emo” is ever brought up in conversation, you might think of depressed teens with long, dyed hair or even your favorite My Chemical Romance record playing in Hot Topic. However, I think of what I believe is the height of culture.
Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But I do really appreciate what emo culture is, and all the phases it’s gone through, according to Alternative Press.
The Aughts: Emo is official
Through punk rock and post-hardcore influences, emo (short for “emotional hardcore”) emerged in the form of kids wearing black clothing, chains and studs on your jeans, and bold eyeliner. Bands like Jimmy Eat World and Weezer start topping the charts with their alternative rock sound, with My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, and Panic! at the Disco soon to follow. Their dark, sad, and emotional lyrics strike a chord in our hearts. (Well, not me. I was born in 2005.) This is the first time that emo is separated from punk or grunge scenes from the 90s, and people, especially millennial teens, are eating it up.
The 2010s: Emo is Gone
After a decade or so of the emo scene rampaging, Fall Out Boy went on hiatus, My Chemical Romance and Panic! at the Disco both break up, and the black clothing and studs were traded for flannel and chokers. Although, in about 2014-2016, people became weirdly nostalgic for the emo scene’s prime, taking to websites like Tumblr, YouTube, and Musical.ly (y’all remember Musical.ly?) to make memes and edits about it.
To satisfy the emo need for self-deprecating relatability, we start turning to places like YouTube. Two YouTubers in particular that many emos in this time loved were danisnotonfire (now Daniel Howell) and AmazingPhil. They were awkward and relatable, yet fun and uplifting. They marketed themselves as “former emos who hate going outside as much as you do!” and we parasocially bonded with them over it, just like our dead bands.
At least, until, they also went on an indefinite hiatus from making content, leaving their emo fans, once again, in mourning.
The 2020s: Emo is back from the dead
I’m going to cheat a little bit and bring us back to October 2019 instead of the official 2020s. At this point, Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco are “back”, but are now leaning more towards the pop genre instead of the alt-rock we knew and loved, causing many fans to lose interest. Jimmy Eat World and Weezer aren’t much better, as my mom once heard “Buddy Holly” on the classic rock channel. At this point, the emo culture is officially faded.
Until, on Halloween 2019, My Chemical Romance announced that they were officially coming back, and they were going to continue being the edgy band they once were. Naturally, we all freaked out. This brought a new wave of emo bands to come to fruition, making new music like the kind we loved. After MCRs reunion tour in 2019, the revival came to a brief halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but what didn’t?
It wasn’t until 2023 that more big emo news started happening. In March, Fall Out Boy released a new album that had the intense drums and guitars that made us fall in love with them, but layered with experimental production. It was new, yet familiar. Fall Out Boy has officially gone back to their roots, and so have we.
To top it all off, about a month ago, beloved YouTubers Dan and Phil officially came back from their hiatus. My 2016, sixth grade self that was obsessed with these emo bands and icons is healed.
Today, I am proud to be back in the age of emos. I see people with MCR shirts everywhere, and I watched my favorite Fall Out Boy hits being played in concert this summer. I just bought my first pair of black Converse since I was in middle school, and I’m proudly listening to the music that has shaped my teenage years knowing that it was never a phase, mom.