Emo is a slang term used to describe a subculture, which is somewhat derived from the hardcore punk scene. The usage of the term has evolved dramatically over the years. Therefore, the definition of the term "emo" can vary, depending on the subject and decade.
In the 80s, emo first developed in the D.C. hardcore punk scene as a name for the fans of the music genre known as "emotive hardcore" or "emocore" in short. The hardcore punk scene of that time was dominated by a "tough guy" mentally, and bands started to use the term "emocore" to distinguish themselves from others by adding emotional lyrics to the typical hardcore punk sound. The songs are commonly dealing with sadness, loss and angst, and are characterized by overly dramatic vocals, akin to crying or screaming. While the initial genre is still alive today, it's very obscure and unknown to most.
Over a decade later, the word has been adopted by a new generation of emotional music within the hardcore punk scene and spawned a cultural phenomenon that is known as the nowadays emo subculture. Just like how punk itself has changed over the years, emo also has evolved to beyond the initial version, but still firmly holds on its roots in emotional music within the hardcore punk scene.
Many bands are mislabeled as emocore, such as My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, Falling In Reverse, Sleeping With Sirens and many more. A lot of those bands that are mislabeled as emocore are pop-punk or metalcore, which is scene music. Some emocore bands that are more known are Brand New, Joan Of Arc, Thursday, The Hotelier and The Promise Ring.
Emo-pop is genre combining emo and pop-punk. Emo-pop features a music style with more concise songs and hook-filled choruses. Well known emo-pop bands are Fall Out Boy, Paramore, My Chemical Romance and Panic! At The Disco. This music genre is not the same as emocore. However, one can still identify as emo if they tend to listen to more emo pop, since emo-pop is a type of emo music.
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.
Screamo (also referred to as skramz) is an aggressive subgenre of emocore 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
- Old Gray
- Pg. 99
- Poison the Well
Emo often somewhat 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 and eventually found their way into Scene, many stayed on board the Emo train, until it did eventually fall out of popularity around late 2000s or early 2010s.
A lot of people that take part in the emo subculture have choppy layers and side bangs for their hair. For makeup, they wear black eyeliner with black 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/white belts, rubber bracelets and striped arm warmers. The most common place for people to shop is Hot Topic and sometimes Spencer's.