Thursday, 25 October 2007
09:44:55 PM (GMT)
Emo. Short for emotional. Emo. A genre of punk rock. Emo. A dress code of tiny
t-shirts and horn-rimmed glasses. Type the word "emo" into your average search engine
and you'll get over three million results that will encompass nearly that many
different opinions of what emo actually is. The general approach to the term is a lot
like the approach to pornography, "I can't tell you exactly what it is, but I'll know
it when I see (or hear) it."
The history of emo is somewhat less ambiguous than its current meaning. "Emo" music
developed out of the D.C. punk scene in the '80s. In its original incarnation, emo
was short for emocore, or emotional-hardcore. The name was applied to hardcore punk
rock bands who distinguished themselves from their peers by adding an emotional
component to their music, dealing with sadness and love and angst in their lyrics.
The music was also characterized by particularly dramatic vocals which, at best, left
the audience in an emotionally charged state, crying or screaming. These days, emo
has been popularized and sent into the mainstream through bands like Dashboard
Confessional, Taking Back Sunday and Saves the Day.
Emo music has even inspired its own subcultural style. Take your average Rites of
Spring fan and you get someone who looks a lot like Weezer's Rivers Cuomo--nerdy
glasses, vintage tees, cuffed jeans, Converse sneakers and slightly shrunken tops.
Black hair and straight bangs, tight hoodies and thrift shop attire are also
associated with emo. And while emo devotees are notoriously upfront about their
feelings, instead of wearing their hearts on their sleeves, they tend to favor ironic
slogans and band logos.
Lately, labeling someone as "emo" is something of a put-down, a stand-in for "overly
emotional" or "melodramatic." The implication is that they are excessively moody and
angsty, prone to crying jags and plagued by a love of bad poetry. Hot Topic even
issued a patch that read, "cheer up, emo kid!" But for those who call themselves emo,
the term means something more pure. At its core, emo is all about being upfront with
your emotions. Or, as one "expert" defined it, "emo is like being Goth, but much less
dark, much more Harry Potter." -- marni (provided by