Emotional hardcore, or emo, is a music subgenre that gained traction during the 2000s. Emo was birthed from the hardcore and pop-punk movements of the time. While the sound existed as early as the 1980s (early emo bands include Rites of Spring and Jimmy Eat World), the genre wouldn't see a significant rise until the early 2000s, with bands such as My Chemical Romance and Panic at the Disco! launching the genre into the mainstream (much like bands that pioneered goth, bands labeled as emo would reject the label). Emo music is categorized as fast and harsh in sound, like hardcore, while lyrics dealt with emotional topics like love and teenage life, like pop-punk. Emo would go on to influence as type of fashion as well; black eyeliner, hairstyles with long bangs, mouth piercings, black clothing, black Converse sneakers, checkered/striped sleeves and socks, and much more (unlike other alternative scenes, clothes were usually bought in stores such as Hot Topic instead of DIY'd). Emo, as a subculture, would die down as the 2000s came to an end, though its impact would go on to influence the overall music industry going into the 2010s (most notable is the emo rap subgenre).


While My Chemical Romance is the most popular band in the genre, Yungblud, Fall Out Boy, and Panic! At The Disco are also enjoyed throughout this subculture. All Time Low, The Used, Paramore, Black Veil Brides, Sleeping With Sirens, Pierce the Veil, and Green Day are popular as well. Although Twenty One Pilots weren't around in the early 2000s, many individuals in this subculture have become fans of them. The majority of emos do not keep up with what songs are presently popular. For the small population still active within the emo subculture, newer bands such as Waterparks, The Hotelier, and more are also some favorites.

In recent years, however, the aesthetic of Emo has made its way over into the world of Hip-Hop, creating what is referred to as Emo Rap (and sometimes disparagingly as "Soundcloud Rap"), with artists like the late Lil' Peep being probably the most well-known example of this sort of sound.

Spotify playlists


Emo Pop


Emo Rap




Midwest Emo

Often considered the more light-hearted variant of Emo, Midwest Emo tends to go for more of an Indie/Geek vibe than the darker, angsty Emo original recipe.

For more information on this aesthetic, please check out our Midwest Emo page.


Even though this may be a controversial listing, Emo and Scene have been mixed up in the past during the MySpace era due to the similar visual cues the two aesthetics have (similar hairstyles, similar interests, etc), but it is important to note that Emo is more introverted and dark while Scene is loud, abrasive, and obnoxious by design. Scene also has a tendency to use extremely bright colors compared to the darker color palette often associated with Emo.

For more information on this aesthetic, please check out our Scene page.


Screamo (also referred to as skramz) is an aggressive subgenre of emo that emerged in the early 1990s, emphasizing "willfully experimental dissonance and dynamics." Screamo is strongly influenced by hardcore punk and is characterized by the use of screamed vocals. Lyrical themes usually include emotional pain, death, romance, and human rights. Popular bands in Screamo include:

  • Antioch Arrow
  • Circle Takes the Square
  • City of Caterpillar
  • iwrotehaikusaboutcannibalisminyouryearbook
  • Old Gray
  • Orchid
  • Pg. 99
  • Poison the Well
  • Saetia


Emo as an aesthetic often overlaps with others visually, such as Goth (much to the chagrin of the Goths, who absolutely detested the Emo Kids at the time of their rise in popularity, likely due to the confusion between the two scenes) and Scene, due to dealing with negative emotions as its major topic. While a lot of people who initially got into the Emo subculture eventually found their way into Scene, many stayed on board the Emo train until it did eventually fall out of popularity and some artists (namely Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco!) transitioned into a more pop sound and aesthetic compared to the dark, brooding days of their initial rise to fame.


Most individuals in the subculture have choppy haircuts and/or unnaturally colored hair. Choppy black hair that covers the eyes is also seen often. Makeup is a usually pale foundation, smudged eyeliner, or dark eye-shadow. Sometimes, people in this subculture will have lip/mouth piercings, or just piercings in general. Clothing includes but is not limited to black or dark clothing, skinny jeans, band tees, converse sneakers, and hoodies. Some popular accessories include layered studded belts, chains, rubber bracelets, striped arm/legwarmers, and beaded bracelets. The most common place for people to shop is Hot Topic, and sometimes Spencer's or Claire's (for as long as Claire's is still around since, as we know, Claire's isn't doing so hot financially).


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