As red caps and baggy shorts fell out of fashion and nu metal took leave of MTV’s constant rotation in the mid-2000s, a new cultural phenomenon lurked behind the scenes ready to take its place. This time around, the kids involved replaced nu metal machismo with intense sensitivity – no emotion was left untapped, no personal turmoil was ruled out. The protagonists of the scene came smothered in eyeliner and with more aggressively styled hairstyles than anything we’ve seen since the ’80s. That’s right: we’re talking about the emo boom of the early 21st century.
Social media was still in its infancy when emo first took off – world domination was just a glint in the eye of a teenager by Mark Zuckerberg when My Chemical Romance released their debut album in 2002 – but one platform has proven to be fertile ground for groups to grow an audience and help organize their own stages: MySpace. The MySpace generation was perhaps the first generation of bands to be able to bypass the recording industry and invent their own hits, tapping directly into an audience of kids who, quite simply, love, I got it, man.
It was not a 100% good thing. While the recording industry once served as custodians and taste makers – that’s not a 100% good thing either – now everyone could have fun with this musical lark. The platform was quickly filled with chancellors and wannabes – but while most were appalling, some of them made the weird killer song.
We’ve rounded up 10 of the best here for your listening pleasure, so get ready for a world of over-the-top drama and gothic craze – emos are back in town.
10. Hawthorne Heights – Ohio is for lovers (2004)
The mid-2000s was another time, that’s for sure – these days a song written about your girlfriend missing while on tour, including the lyrics, “So cut my wrists and blacken it.” me eyes, ”might frown a few eyebrows, but for the anxious teens in 2004 it was catnip. Hawthorne Heights quickly became the poster child for a generation of fringed children and Ohio is for lovers remains perhaps the most outrageously dramatic emo song of all time.
9. From first to last – Note à soi (2004)
The story of From First To Last is one of many surprises – not least the fact that they managed to produce this freezing firecracker from their catalog of cliché-filled offerings. Before changing the face of modern electronic music, Skrillex began his music career with this divisive band. Their first album Dear diary, my teenager Angst has an account documented the point where post-hardcore has turned into emo and sounds like Geoff Rickly in front of Underoath – but badly. Songs like Note for myself caught the attention of many, including the legendary Ross Robinson who produced the band’s follow-up album Heroin, unexpectedly leading Wes Borland to join From First To Last as a tour member.
8. Boys Love Girls – The Great Escape (2007)
Cleaner, prettier and in one way or another crankier than their contemporaries, Boys Like Girls was what you would get if you ran into Nickleback with All Time Low and then knocked out any passion for music. The great Escape is the spearhead of the group’s self-titled debut album, which is packed with songs about the good old days and wasted moments with friends. Sure, that’s mundane bullshit for the most part, but the nostalgic sentimentality of this track feels right in 2021.
7. We The Kings – Check Yes, Juliet (2007)
While there is nothing distinct or interesting about the sound of We The Kings, their first single, Tick Yes, Juliet, is one of the most joyfully fun emo songs of the mid-2000s. From its instantly recognizable opening guitar line to its colossal chorus, this song is a gem in the band’s uninspired pop-rock catalog. WTK still makes music today, but they never quite hit the heights of this song – which went platinum in Australia – again.
6. Falling Upside Down – I’m Not a Vampire (2011)
That this band’s reputation was built more on the silly misogyny that influenced the first half of their careers – both in their songs and outside of them – than their actual music should tell you what you need to do. know about Falling In Reverse. I am not a vampire doesn’t exactly go against that trend, but it sees Falling In Reverse channeling their inner Steel Panther and turning into cheesy glam rock satires. It’s so ridiculous that it’s starting to get catchy – although we can’t quite understand what prompted singer Ronnie Radke to re-release it as a piano-directed cinematic ballad last year.
5. The Red Combination Device – Face Hidden (2006)
Like many of the bands on this list, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus hit hard on their debut album and spent the rest of their careers trying to repeat those ancient glories. Their shot Dark side was inspired by singer Ronnie Winter’s experience of domestic violence and acts as an ode to anyone going through a similar situation. Despite its content, the song is still fun to sing along, and if you prefer your emo with a bit of a scream, check out the original version.
4. The Starting Line – Best of Me (2002)
A clip set in a generic American suburb? Check. Not a front in sight? Check. A shell necklace that the singer will regret wearing one day? Check. It must be Paramore… no, it’s Fall Out Boy…. or could it be Yellowcard? No, it’s the short-lived Philadelphia emo group The Starting Line, whose song Best of me sounds like a smashed copy of every hit pop-rock track from the early 2000s. It’s like a classic emo playlist compressed into four minutes, and it’s awesome.
3. The All American Rejects – Dirty Little Secret (2005)
The All-American Rejects were disguised as emo as radio rock, and that made them unstoppably popular for about two years. Around this time, they wrote two platinum records, developed a vise on high school movie soundtracks, and quickly became posters for a style of punk so wet it made Blink-182 look like Black Flag. A vulgar little secret is important to be the king of 2006 teen movies, starring in Bring it on: all or nothing, John Tucker must die and She is the man – all films that share its irresistible charm of guilty pleasure.
2. The Hearing – Warm Me Up (2008)
Unfortunately for The Audition, their breakout album Champion came out right after the emo boom and into the waning CD era, so they never managed to capitalize on this big single. Here frontman Danny Stevens adopts several Brendon Urie-isms in his voice as the band around him tries to make music that has more bite than usual pop-punk. The result is a song that really has character, it’s just a shame the band never repeated that phrase.
1. Subway station – Shake It (2007)
In perhaps the least rock’n’roll story of all time, Metro Station members Mason Musso and Trace Cyrus met because their younger siblings were both on the Disney Channel show. Hannah montana. They quickly found fame on MySpace thanks to a distinctive – albeit polarizing – electro-pop sound that saw the advent of the neon-emo subgenre and a scene that was no longer just defined by sadness. Honestly, only on MySpace. Shake it It might not be a masterpiece, but it has been lighting up the dance floors of the emo club for over 10 years now.