Mainstream music has drastically evolved since I was a child in the 90’s. I have always loved music but it didn’t become a prevalent part of my life until late-elementary school. Yet it wasn’t until around 2006 or 2007 I even discovered the rock genre. In fact, “emo” genre was my official introduction to the world of rock music. This realization only recently dawned on me.
I won’t go into detail about the history of emo rock genre. You can always consult Wikipedia if you want to learn more about this genre’s history. Emo rock genre is often associated as emotionally-charged punk or hardcore rock music with confessional song lyrics. I remember emo rock becoming part of mainstream culture around mid-2000s. Essentially this music genre has been a prevalent part of my life from middle school to high school years. Emo rock genre’s mainstream popularity began to decline around early 2010s.
I don’t know what exactly prompted my interest in emo rock music. It is a tie between my social environments and TV shows. AFI and Fall Out Boy were my official introduction to emo rock genre.
First, I’ll elaborate how TV shows influenced my music tastes. My love for science-fiction superhero genre TV shows and movies was rapidly growing during this time. In 2006, I randomly discovered The CW’s Smallville as I was casually browsing the television channels. X-men trilogy and original Spider-man trilogy movies had formed an unintentional bias to Marvel universe. Yet, Smallville was my official introduction to DC universe. I will discuss my Smallville obsession in another blog post at a later date. This particular show had a fantastic selection of music incorporated into its episodes. Smallville is the reason it introduced me to many great artists and bands between 2006 and 2011. I can tell you the exact moment my interest in AFI was sparked. Smallville season 6 episode 9 which was titled “Subterranean”. In the final scene of this episode, it brilliantly depicts the villainous, bad-assery of Lex Luthor. AFI’s song “Prelude 12/21” plays in the background of this final scene. The song plays only for 1 minute long in the episode, but it made quite the lasting impression on me. This prompted me to check out AFI’s new album, Decemberunderground.
Second, I’ll elaborate how social environments influenced my music tastes. In 2005, Fall Out Boy released their sophomore album, Under A Cork Tree. This band was most popular when I was in middle school. There was excessive hype surrounding them. I’d frequently hear my fellow peers talk about them throughout the school week. Fall Out Boy was frequently featured in many teen magazines as well. All these factors shaped my outright refusal to not listen to them. I had a close acquaintance who was very much obsessed with this band. Shakira made it her mission to convert me to their music. It was uphill struggle for a while as I continued to refuse to give them a chance. One day I couldn’t deal with the constant badgering and caved to her demands by listening to some songs from Under A Cork Tree. I was pleasantly surprised by Fall Out Boy’s music. But I wouldn’t exactly call myself a fan. Their third album, Infinity on High, was released in 2007. Typically, you gained access to your favorite artists’ music was by physically owning their CD albums. Or having a friend burn a CD for you. CD albums are an outmoded concept to any Generation Z kids born after mid-2000s. Anyway, I randomly picked up Fall Out Boy’s Infinity on High album from my local library. My former reluctance to listen to their music a couple years prior had completely vanished. I fell head over heels in love with Infinity on High album. Fall Out Boy had gained a new fan.
AFI and Fall Out Boy had formed my appreciation for the emo rock. Yet I only began to listen to this music genre around 2008-2009. Emo rock was slowly losing popularity within mainstream music. I’m pretty sure this was the main reason I decided to venture into this genre. Apparently I was a borderline hipster in my early teenage years.
In July 2009, I attended my first concert. mtvU’s SunBlock Festival line-up hadBoys Like Girls as the headliner with supporting acts of The Academy Is, Never Shout Never, The Veronicas, and Gym Class Heroes. My main motivation to go for SunBlock Festival was to see The Veronicas. Yet this music festival formed my appreciation for Boys Like Girls and The Academy Is. I attended another mtvU music festival in October 2009. mtvU’s Ulalume Festival line-up had Paramore as the headliner with supporting acts of AFI, Dead by Sunrise, and Kid Cudi. I was super excited to see AFI in concert. I had been avidly listening to AFI since 2006. In preparation for Ulalume Festival, I listened to Paramore’s newest album, Brand New Eyes. I was very impressed. These two music festivals strengthened my love for emo punk/ hardcore genre.
I mentioned earlier how Fall Out Boy was my official introduction to emo rock. Fueled by Ramen label enabled me to discover other similar bands within this particular genre. The Academy Is. Paramore. Cobra Starship. This occurred between 2008 and 2009. It wasn’t until 2011 that I discovered Panic! at the Disco. That’s a long story for another blog post.
I formed my love for emo rock from 2008-2010. It was surprising the wide variety of artists I’d discovered within this genre. Because of my closed-minded attitude, I joined this party late. This deeply saddens me still to this day. I missed a golden opportunity to meet others who had similar music interests to me. Throughout middle school and high school, not many of my friends were fans of rock music. My love for rock genre really intensified in high school. It wasn’t until college I found friends who shared similar rock music interests. Emo rock helped me branch out to rock sub-genres like hardcore, post-hardcore, nu-metal, and symphonic metal. What I love about these rock genres it has beautiful storytelling in their songs. It addressed the ups and down moments of life. Also, there is emotional depth in terms of lyrical content. Most of all, the beautifully complex layering of music and vocals within the songs. These are all elements seriously lacking in mainstream music over the past five years.
Emo music scene perpetuated the “emo” look. This fashion style varied from clean-cut to more punk. The most prominent aspect of emo fashion was the hairstyle. Short, choppy layered flat-ironed hairstyle with side-swept bangs covering one or both eyes. Hair color could be standard black, brown, or blonde to the opposite spectrum of various bright colors like blue, pink, purple, or red. Excessive amounts of black worn are often associated with “emo” fashion. Darker shades of eye-shadow and heavy eyeliner are part of this make-up regiment. You can’t forget the staple of this look. Tight skinny jeans and band tees. Often, there was confusion between emo and goth fashion styles.
It never ceases to amaze me the negative stigma surrounding the term “emo”. This never bothered me much when I was discovering this particular genre. As I grew older, the inaccurate stereotypes surrounding emo subculture really pissed me off. I personally love emo rock genre, but I’ve never dressed emo. I describe my fashion style as nerdy chic with hint of preppy. Although, I do prefer incorporating darker shades of colors into my outfits. I own a fair amount of band t-shirts as well. Stereotypes about someone solely based off their music tastes or fashion should be eliminated within our society.
Stereotypes promote a “us versus them” mentality. This perpetuates a closed-minded attitude toward life. I firmly believe stereotypes are divisive tools that don’t teach people to love others for their differences. We should embrace diverse personalities, music tastes, and fashion styles. Not be judgmental about a person’s differences. Variety makes the world a beautiful place. Therefore, I’ve come to passionately hate the term “emo” regardless if it refers to people or music. My deep hatred for the term “emo” is the reason I refer to emotionally charged punk rock music as part of the “scene” genre.
Quite frankly I’d rather listen to music within scene, hardcore, post-hardcore, nu-metal, symphonic metal, and alternative rock sub-genres. It is like a fine wine…it gets better with age. I’ve been listening to the many of my rock bands for nearly 6-10 years. The quality of mainstream music has drastically declined over the years. I can tolerate no more than 1% of mainstream music. This is why I all together stopped listening to Top 40 radio stations several years ago. Basically I rely on iTunes, YouTube, and Spotify to listen to music.