Thursday, October 18, 2007

Emo (Music)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Emo is a style of rock music which describes several independent variations of music with common stylistic roots. As such, use of the term has been the subject of much debate. In the mid-1980s, the term emo described a subgenre of hardcore punk which originated in the Washington, DC music scene of the mid-1980s. In later years, the term emocore, short for "emotive hardcore"[1][2] or sometimes "emotional hardcore", was also used to describe the emotional performances of bands in the Washington DC scene and some of the offshoot regional scenes such as Rites of Spring, Embrace, One Last Wish, Beefeater, Gray Matter, Fire Party, and later, Moss Icon.[citation needed]

Starting in the mid-1990s, the term emo began to refer to the indie scene that followed the influences of Fugazi, which itself was an offshoot of the first wave of emo. Bands including Sunny Day Real Estate and Texas Is the Reason had a more indie rock style of emo, more melodic and less chaotic. The so-called "indie emo" scene survived until the late 1990s, as many of the bands either disbanded or shifted to mainstream styles. As the remaining indie emo bands entered the mainstream, newer bands began to emulate the mainstream style. As a result, the term "emo" became a vaguely defined identifier rather than a specific genre of music.


First wave (1985-1994)
In 1985 in Washington, D.C., Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto, veterans of the DC hardcore music scene, decided to shift away from what they saw as the constraints of the basic style of hardcore and the escalating violence within the scene. They took their music in a more personal direction with a far greater sense of experimentation, bringing forth MacKaye's Embrace and Picciotto's Rites of Spring. The style of music developed by Embrace and Rites of Spring soon became its own sound. (Hüsker Dü's 1984 album Zen Arcade is often cited as a major influence for the new sound.) As a result of the renewed spirit of experimentation and musical innovation that developed the new scene, the summer of 1985 soon came to be known in the scene as "Revolution Summer".[3]

Where the term emo actually originated is uncertain, but members of Rites of Spring mentioned in a 1985 interview in Flipside Magazine that some of their fans had started using the term to describe their music. By the early 90s, it was not uncommon for the early DC scene to be referred to as emo-core, though it's unclear when the term shifted.

Within a short time, the D.C. emo sound began to influence other bands such as Moss Icon, Nation of Ulysses, Dag Nasty, Soulside, Shudder To Think, Fire Party, Marginal Man, and Gray Matter, many of which were released on MacKaye's Dischord Records. The original wave of DC emo finally ended in late 1994 with the collapse of Hoover.

As the D.C. scene expanded, other scenes began to develop with a similar sound and DIY ethic. In San Diego in the early 1990s, Gravity Records released a number of records in the hardcore emo style. Bands of the period included Heroin, Indian Summer, Drive Like Jehu, Angel Hair, Antioch Arrow, Universal Order of Armageddon, Swing Kids, and Mohinder. Also in California, Ebullition Records released records by bands of the same vein, such as Still Life and Portraits of Past, as well as more traditional hardcore punk bands, all having various social and political themes in common.

At the same time, in the New York/New Jersey area, bands such as Native Nod, Merel, 1.6 Band, Policy of 3, Rye Coalition, Iconoclast and Quicksand[4] were feeling the same impulse. Many of these bands were involved with the ABC No Rio club scene in New York, itself a response to the violence and stagnation in the scene and with the bands that played at CBGBs, the only other small venue for hardcore in New York at the time. Much of this wave of emo, particularly the San Diego scene, began to shift towards a more chaotic and aggressive form of emo, nicknamed screamo.

By and large, the more hardcore style of emo began to fade as many of the early era groups disbanded. However, aspects of the sound remained in bands such as Four Hundred Years and Yaphet Kotto. Also, a handful of modern bands continue to reflect emo's hardcore origins, including Circle Takes the Square, Hot Cross, City of Caterpillar, Funeral Diner, and A Day in Black and White.

Following the disbanding of Embrace in 1986, MacKaye established the influential group Fugazi, and was soon joined by Picciotto. While Fugazi itself is not typically categorized as emo, the band's music is cited as an influence by popular second-wave bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate,[5] Braid,[6] and Jimmy Eat World.[7]

Early influence
In California - particularly in the Bay Area - bands such as Jawbreaker and Samiam began to incorporate influences from the "D.C. sound" into a poppier framework; The former's music was described by Andy Greenwald as "a sonic shot-gun marriage between the bristly heft of hardcore, the song-writing sensibility of Cali pop-punk, and the tortured artistry of D.C. emo".[8] Other bands soon reflected the same sense of rough melody, including Still Life and Long Island's Garden Variety.

Also in the early 90s, bands like Lifetime reacted in their own way to the demise of youth crew styled straight-edge hardcore and desired to seek out a new direction. While their music was often classified as emo, it was also considered to be melodic hardcore. In response to the more metal direction their hardcore peers were taking, Lifetime initially decided to slow down and soften their music, adding more personal lyrics. The band later added a blend of speed, aggression, and melody that defined their sound. Lifetime's sound, lyrics, and style were a virtual blueprint for later bands, including Saves the Day, Taking Back Sunday, and The Movielife.

Second wave (1994–2000)
As Fugazi and the Dischord Records scene became more and more popular in the indie underground of the early 1990s, new bands began to spring up. Combining Fugazi with the post-punk influences of Mission of Burma and Hüsker Dü, a new genre of emo emerged.
Perhaps the key moment was the release of the album Diary by Sunny Day Real Estate in 1994. Given Sub Pop's then-recent success with Nirvana and Soundgarden, the label was able to bring much wider attention to the release than the typical indie release, including major advertisements in Rolling Stone. The heavier label support allowed the band to secure performances on TV shows, including The Jon Stewart Show. As a result, the album received widespread national attention.

As more and more people learned about the band, particularly via the fledgling World Wide Web, the band was given the tag emo. Even where Fugazi had not been considered emo, the new generation of fans shifted the tag from the earlier hardcore style to this more indie rock style of emo. It was not uncommon for Sunny Day and its peers to be labeled with the full "emo-core". However, when pressed to explain "emo", many fans split the genre into two brands: the "hardcore emo" practiced in the early days and the newer "indie emo".

In the years that followed, several major regions of "indie emo" emerged. The most significant appeared in the Midwest in the mid-90s. Many of the bands were influenced by the same sources, but with an even more tempered sound. This brand of emo was often referred to as "Midwestern emo" given the geographic location of the bands, with several of the best-known bands hailing from the areas around Chicago, Kansas City, Omaha and Milwaukee. The initial bands in this category included Boy's Life and Cap'n Jazz. In ensuing years, bands such as The Promise Ring, Braid, Elliott, Cursive, and The Get Up Kids emerged from the same scene and gained national attention.

The area around Phoenix, Arizona became another major scene for emo. Inspired by Fugazi and Sunny Day Real Estate, former punk rockers Jimmy Eat World began stirring emo influences into their music, eventually releasing the album Static Prevails in 1996. The album was arguably the first emo record released by a major label, as the band had signed with Capitol Records in 1995.

Other bands that followed the "indie emo" model included Colorado's Christie Front Drive, New York's Texas Is the Reason and Rainer Maria, California's Knapsack and Sense Field, Baltimore's Cross My Heart, Austin's Mineral, and Boston's Piebald and Jejune.
As "indie emo" became more widespread, a number of acts who otherwise would not have been considered part of the "indie emo" scene began to be referred to as emo because of their similarity to the sound. The hallmark example was Weezer's 1996 album Pinkerton, which, years later, was considered one of the defining "emo" records of the 90s.[9]

As the wide range of emo bands began to attract notoriety on a national scale, a number of indie labels attempted to document the scene. Many emo bands of the late 90s signed to indie labels including Jade Tree Records, Saddle Creek, and Big Wheel Recreation. In 1997, California's Crank! Records released a compilation titled (Don't Forget to) Breathe, which featured tracks by notable indie emo bands such as The Promise Ring, Christie Front Drive, Mineral, Knapsack, and Arizona's Seven Storey Mountain. In 1998, Deep Elm Records released the first installment in a series of compilations called Emo Diaries, featuring tracks from Jimmy Eat World, Samiam, and Jejune. In 1999, famed 70s compilation label K-tel released an emo compilation titled Nowcore: The Punk Rock Evolution, which included tracks by Texas Is the Reason, Mineral, The Promise Ring, Knapsack, Braid, At the Drive-In, and Jawbox, among others.

With the late-90s emo scene being more national than regional, major labels began to turn their attention toward signing emo bands with the hopes of capitalizing on the genre's popularity. Many bands resisted the lure, citing their loyalty to the independent mentality of the scene. Several bands cited what they saw as mistreatment of bands such as Jawbox and Jawbreaker while they were signed to majors as a reason to stay away. The conflict felt within many of the courted emo bands resulted in their break-ups, including Texas Is the Reason and Mineral.
By the end of the decade, the word emo cropped up in mainstream circles. In the summer of 1998, Teen People magazine ran an article declaring "emo" the newest "hip" style of music, with The Promise Ring a band worth watching. The independent nature of the emo scene recoiled at mainstream attention, and many emo bands shifted their sound in an attempt to isolate themselves from the genre. In the years that followed, Sunny Day Real Estate opted to shift to a more prog-rock direction, Jejune aimed for happy pop-rock, and The Get Up Kids and The Promise Ring released lite-rock albums.

While "indie emo" almost completely ceased to exist by the end of the decade, many bands still subscribe to the Fugazi / Hüsker Dü model, including Thursday, The Juliana Theory, and Sparta.

Third wave (2000-present)
At the end of the 1990s, the underground emo scene had almost entirely disappeared. However, the term emo was still being bandied about in mainstream media, almost always attached to the few remaining 90s emo acts, including Jimmy Eat World.

However, towards the end of the 1990s, Jimmy Eat World had begun to shift in a more mainstream direction. Where Jimmy Eat World had played emocore-style music early in their career, by the time of the release of their 2001 album Bleed American, the band had downplayed its emo influences, releasing more pop-oriented singles such as "The Middle" and "Sweetness". As the public had become aware of the word emo and knew that Jimmy Eat World was associated with it, the band continued to be referred to as an "emo" band, despite their objections. Newer bands that sounded like Jimmy Eat World (and, in some cases, like the more melodic emo bands of the late 90s) were soon included in the genre.[10]

2003 saw the success of Chris Carrabba, the former singer of emo band Further Seems Forever, and his project Dashboard Confessional. Despite musically being more aligned to the singer songwriter school, Carraba found himself part of the emerging "popular" emo scene. Carrabba's music featured lyrics founded in deep diary-like outpourings of emotion. While certainly emotional, the new "emo" had a far greater appeal amongst adolescents than its earlier incarnations. [11]

With Dashboard Confessional and Jimmy Eat World's success, major labels began seeking out similar sounding bands. Just as many bands of the early-to-mid 1990s were unwillingly lumped under the umbrella of "grunge", some record labels wanted to be able to market a new sound under the word emo.

At the same time, use of the term "emo" expanded beyond the musical genre, which added to the confusion surrounding the term. The word "emo" became associated with open displays of strong emotion. Common fashion styles and attitudes that were becoming idiomatic of fans of similar "emo" bands also began to be referred to as "emo". As a result, bands that were loosely associated with "emo" trends or simply demonstrated emotion began to be referred to as emo.[12]

In an even more expanded way than in the 90s, emo has come to encompass an extremely wide variety of bands, many of whom have very little in common. The term has become so broad that it has become nearly impossible to describe what exactly qualifies as "emo".

Appropriately or not, emo has been used to describe such bands as AFI, Alexisonfire, Brand New, Coheed and Cambria, Fall Out Boy, From First to Last, Funeral for a Friend, Hawthorne Heights, My Chemical Romance, Panic! at the Disco, Senses Fail, Something Corporate, The Starting Line, Story of the Year, Taking Back Sunday, Thursday, The Used, and Underoath.[13] The classification of bands as "emo" is often controversial. Fans of several of the listed bands have recoiled at the use of the "emo" tag, and have gone to great lengths to explain why they don't qualify as "emo". In many cases, the term has simply been attached to them because of musical similarities, a common fashion sense, or because of the band's popularity within the "emo" scene, not because the band adheres to emo as a music genre.

As a result of the continuing shift of "emo" over the years, a serious schism has emerged between those who relate to particular eras of "emo". Those who were closely attached to the hardcore origins recoil when another type of music is called "emo". Many involved in the independent nature of both 80s and 90s emo are upset at the perceived hijacking of the word emo to sell a new generation of major label music. Regardless, popular culture appears to have embraced the terms of "emo" far beyond its original intentions.

In a strange twist, screamo, a sub-genre of the new emo, has found greater popularity in recent years through bands such as Thrice and Glassjaw.[14] The term screamo, however, was used to describe an entirely different genre in the early 1990s, and the new screamo bands more resemble the emo of the early 1990s. Complicating matters further is that several small scenes devoted to original screamo still exist in the underground. However, the new use of "screamo" demonstrates how the shift in terms connected to "emo" has made the varying genres difficult to categorize.

The difficulty in defining "emo" as a genre may have started at the very beginning. In a 2003 interview by Mark Prindle,[15] Guy Picciotto of Fugazi and Rites of Spring was asked how he felt about "being the creator of the emo genre". He responded: "I don't recognize that attribution. I've never recognized 'emo' as a genre of music. I always thought it was the most retarded term ever. I know there is this generic commonplace that every band that gets labeled with that term hates it. They feel scandalized by it. But honestly, I just thought that all the bands I played in were punk rock bands. The reason I think it's so stupid is that - what, like the Bad Brains weren't emotional? What - they were robots or something? It just doesn't make any sense to me."

Emo is also sometimes associated with a certain fashion. Emo clothing is characterized by tight jeans on males and females alike, long fringe (bangs) brushed to one side of the face or over one or both eyes, dyed black, straightened hair, tight t-shirts which often bear the names of rock bands (or other designed shirts), studded belts, belt buckles, canvas sneakers or skate shoes or other black shoes (often old and beaten up) and thick, black horn-rimmed glasses.[16][17][18] Emo fashion has changed with time; early trends included straightend unparted hair, tightly fitting sweaters, button-down shirts, and work jackets (often called gas station jackets).[citation needed] This fashion has at times been characterized as a fad.[19]

As certain fashion trends and attitudes began to be associated with "emo", stereotypes emerged that created a specific target for criticism. In the early years of the "third wave", the criticism was relatively light-hearted and self-effacing. In ensuing years, the derision increased dramatically. Male fans of emo found themselves hit with homosexual slurs, largely a reflection of the style of dress popular within the "emo scene" and the purported displays of emotion common in the scene. Complaints pointed to the histrionic manner in which the emotions were expressed.[20]

In October of 2003, Punk Planet contributor Jessica Hopper leveled the charge that the "third wave" era of emo was sexist. Hopper argued that where bands such as Jawbox, Jawbreaker and Sunny Day Real Estate had characterized women in such a way that they were not "exclusively defined by their absence or lensed through romantic-specter",[21] contemporary bands approached relationship issues by "damning the girl on the other side ... its woman-induced misery has gone from being descriptive to being prescriptive". Regarding the position of women listening to emo, Hopper went on to note that the music had become "just another forum where women were locked in a stasis of outside observation, observing ourselves through the eyes of others".

Critics of modern emo have argued that there is a tendency toward increasingly generic and homogenized style.[22] Many popular bands have attempted to disassociate themselves with the "emo" tag; some have adopted the genre designation post-hardcore. Despite the criticism, the modern version of emo has maintained mainstream popularity. However, given the disfavor of the term "emo", the future of the genre remains unclear.


Anonymous said...

Thank you :) you should look at that emo boy hair on this blog:

Anonymous said...

How are you? your website is cute
Check out at that crazy emo song: