THe ROUGH GUIDE TO EMO

By Yvette Parry

(self-confessed Ex-Emo)

Okay look, a bunch of us have been there. Emo was a great escape from all your non-existent tween/teen problems. You had a devastating crush on someone? Emo music. You weren’t allowed to go to Reading festival at 15? Emo music. Your mum shouted at you for not getting the mince out of the freezer for dinner tonight? Emo music. Alas, the genre was mostly left behind in the mid ‘10s, after the death of My Chemical Romance; but if you’re looking for a trip down memory lane, or to explore a genre you tried so desperately to avoid, then this Emo guide is here for you! From the obvious anthems, to the niche numbers, here’s a sweeping guide to the genre. Hit play and enjoy!

1. Welcome to the Black Parade - My Chemical Romance​

Love them or tolerate them, My Chemical Romance brought Emo music to centre stage. It was hard to make it through 2006 without hearing this song everywhere. For a lot of us, My Chemical Romance was the catalyst for our Emo lives. This number was our equivalent to Bohemian Rhapsody: the delicate piano intro, the marching band drums, the classic rock guitar... all building up to the timeless emo anthem that swept many teens up into their little Emo love affairs.

2. I Write Sins Not Tragedies - Panic! At the Disco

Number two has to go straight to Panic!. I Write Sins Not Tragedies was a 2005 anthem streamed endlessly on Kerrang. If you weren’t already convinced by My Chem, then Panic! would be the boys to entice you a step deeper into the genre. Those who fell for this tune would soon have their debut album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out clogging up their iPod’s memory. Good times.

3. Sugar, We're Going Down - Fall Out Boy

Like I Write Sins Not Tragedies, this was another 00s Emo Anthem played on repeat. It’s catchy, it’s timeless, and quite frankly, it still slaps. It’s an absolute must on any Emo playlist. Back in the days when the sweeping fringe was the height of fashion, thanks to guitarist Pete Wentz. Mmmm, Pete.

4. Misery Business - Paramore 

Emo was a completely male-dominated genre. That is until Hayley Williams came to the scene; she quickly became an icon of the genre. Her choppy orange hair with yellow highlights brought colour into the dark miserable Emo bedroom, and we *loved* her. I shamelessly died my hair a horrible orange-pink colour with £1 Superdrug semi-permanent dye because of Hayley; I got a baby fringe inspired by the Emo Queen; my 2014 profile picture featured me in my bedroom with winged eyeliner and 30 posters of Ms Williams. Despite Paramore disowning the song for being horribly sexist in 2017, it also still slaps. Look, the noughties had its problems...

5. Save it for the Bedroom - You Me at Six

You Me at Six solidified the Emo genre in the UK in 2009 with their debut album Take Off Your Colours. Another horrendously sexist tune, Save It for The Bedroom was a go-to high energy track. I mean, what do we expect from a bunch of men in their late teens writing love songs in the 00s?

6. Never Meant - American Football

You didn’t have to like, or even have heard of, American Football to recognise their iconic self-titled 1999 album – you just needed to have a Tumblr. I encountered the album art on my dashboard several times a week in my Tumblr days, and to be frank, the website carried them through to the new generation of 00s and 10s Emos. It’s mellow, it’s a classic, it’s a rainy-Emo-day must.

7. Shadow Moses - Bring Me the Horizon

Never a ‘must’ for me personally, but I recognise the importance of the band to the UK Emo Community™. Honestly, I only ever listened to this song because of the band’s contribution to You Me at Six’s third album. Sorry ‘bout it.

8. Fat Lip - Sum 41

*Controversial: some may argue that Sum 41 is Punk-Pop, but I’m putting them in*

Sum 41 was where Emo got political. Kinda. There’s nothing to hate about this song, it has all the self-deprecating elements that millennials and gen Zs LOVE – I mean ‘I trashed my own house party because nobody came’? Relatable. Remember their music videos? Hilarious. True icons of Emo (or punk pop… whatever).

9. The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows - Brand New

Those who ventured deep (possibly too deep) into Emo will know this song. It’s overly emotional, it’s dark, it’s Emo in every sense of the word. I went to an Emo nightclub in Leeds after a Blink-182 concert in 2017, and only a handful of people knew this song. Knowing Brand New was the badge of a TrueEmo™.

10. In the Shadows - The Rasmus

You gotta give credit where credit’s due: a true One-Hit-Wonder, The Rasmus was the trigger for my Emo days . The music video featured some sad Victorian girl being pulled into a mirror, then rescued from her misery by the lead singer – a guy with crow feathers in his hair. Some might call it soft porn. IDK, it’s Emo, and I loved it.

If you're a music fan and would like to put together your own rough guide to a genre, city, country or artist, please get in touch to contribute to this series: helicon.magazine@gmail.com. The collection will be put together and published in a print zine by the end of the academic year.