Modern emo music fails to live up to predecessors

In the year 1990, the term emo wasn’t quite as commonplace as today. We’ve all seen the style these days: hair flip, neon designs on black t-shirts, tight jeans, and pretty much anything from the confines of Hot Topic.

Emo and its screamo subgenre have become malformed shadows of their own past. Bands like Jimmy Eat World, Dashboard Confessional, and Hawthorne Heights exploded in the 2000s, but these bands didn’t have any connection whatsoever to punk rock. The first emo bands were more punk than Johnny Rotten in 1977.

The first emo record, arguably, was Zen Arcade by Hüsker Dü (known for their influence on alternative rock and being one of the first underground rock bands to sign to a major label), but, undeniably, Rites of Spring was the first emo band.  Rites of Spring took the sound of 80s hardcore but sang about emotions and the individual as opposed to society and politics. Essentially, it was like Black Flag, but more hardcore, hyped up on estrogen for your everyday “sensitive guy” punk rocker.

Jawbreaker is the epitome of early 90s emo rock. Fugazi is sometimes associated with early emo, but Jawbreaker definitely had the most influence. The Lawrence Arms and Alkaline Trio both carry on a sound very much defined by Jawbreaker. Jawbreaker’s songs included catchy hooks, loud breakdowns, and imperfect vocals singing about heartbreak or being alone, and you can bet you’ll find all of these in Alkaline Trio and the Lawrence Arms.

Modern emo seems to be a bit more stuck on cliches and perfection. Instead of glorifying one’s wrongs and imperfections in self-reflection, modern emo is trite with complaints and annoyances. In fact, if I wanted to make a lot of money, I’d just throw a few power chords together and write a song about how tragic my suburban life is as a white male.

Emo music has taken a desensitized turn from the best to the worst. Maybe commercial value took over the scene, or maybe idiots did. I really couldn’t tell you, but I wish emo music stayed in an era that existed 20 years ago.