Emo is a term that is short for emotive hardcore. Most people these days think that emo is strictly short for emotional, but this is false. If emo just meant emotional, wouldn’t it encompass all musical genres, because all music has emotion in it? If you only pick one thing out of this article, be it that emo stands for emotive hardcore, not just emotional.

Many kids have the complete wrong sense of what emo is. Many earlier emo bands only released their songs on vinyl, and they were distributed minimally, so the origin of emo is lost among most people. This is my attempt at tracing it back to the start, in hopes to educate you. I’m sure there is going to be a lot of important bands and years missing, but hopefully it will give you a vague idea of how it all started out.

With that said, let’s move onto the history of emotive hardcore. Heres where the term emo came from: When Minor Threat broke up in 1983, the hardcore punk scene was getting pretty stale. In 1984, Husker Du released “Zen Arcade,” which somewhat set the blueprint for emo bands to follow. This album had the rough vocals, but it had more melody, and was a bit slower than their previous works. Many people give credit to this as the first emo album.

In the spring of 1984, a band called Rites of Spring was formed, containing members of previous hardcore bands The Untouchables/Faith and Deadline. This band kept the speed and stylings of hardcore punk rock, but the vocals were a lot more emotional, and at times even broke into a throaty moan. The lyrics also strayed from politics, and took a more emotional/profound look at life. Rites of Spring gets a lot of credit for being the first emotive hardcore band. Ian Mckaye, formerly of Minor Threat, got into a band called Embrace. Definitely different than Minor Threat, Embrace took a more emotional side to the lyrics as well, and were a lot more melodic. These bands, and much of the other bands on Dischord Records are now labeled as “The Classic DC Sound.” This was the first wave of emo bands.These bands focused more on emotion, than punk rock energy. Legend has it that while Rites of Spring, or Embrace, or Moss Icon were playing a show, someone from the crowd shouted “You’re emo!” and that’s how the term got started. The show where it happened, and which bands were playing always differ with whoever you talk to, so I have no idea how true it is. Don’t take my word on it.

From there, more and more emo bands started forming around North America. Moss Icon, which formed in 1986, started the loud/soft alternating twinkly guitar parts, and crashing distortion side of emo. Indian Summer and Native Nod, who were around 1995-96 are good examples of this, and focused more on the emotional part of the music, rather than the hardcore part, but were still hardcore. Emo was now a bit broader.
Bands like Heroin(1992), Angel Hair(1997?), and Antioch Arrow(1995?) on Gravity Records focused more on the hardcore part of the genre, but were still very emo. The music is pretty chaotic, with just enough melody to pullthings through, and the vocals are usually hoarsely screamed.

1997 marks the release of Saetias fist 7” record, and the debut of level-plane records. I highly recommend that you pink Saetias “A retrospective” cd. At any rate, Level-plane records is probably the most famous emo label out there, and is still going strong today. It has released many important and influential albums, and is a huge part of todays emo scene.

A lot of bands are getting called emo by the mainstream, when in fact they are not. The term emo has leaked into the mainstream, and a lot of emo kids see this as the end of the emo scene, somewhat like what happened with punk rock, and bands like simple plan. I used that example because mainstream bands i.e. Simple Plan get called punk, when really, they’re not punk at all.

Emo is completely distorted from it’s original meaning, and the media is calling many bands that have no relevance to emo whatsoever, emo. Take Dashboard Confessional for example. Chris Carraba just plays acoustic ballads. There is nothing hardcore about it. The music may be very “emotional” and heartfelt, but even so, it is not emo. The same goes for indie bands like Death Cab For Cutie, and Bright Eyes. Conor Oberst is a brilliant songwriter, and I love his work, but again, there is nothing hardcore about his music. Another common misconception about emo, is that bands like Taking Back Sunday, and My Chemical Romance are emo. To me, these bands are strictly pop punk, although their lyrics may seem very emotional at times, but emo doesn’t stand for emotional, now does it?

Another false interpretation of emo is the term “screamo.” I’m sure you’ve all heard this rant before, but I figured that I’d include it anyways. The media has used the term for bands like Thursday, and The Used. Because people call Dashboard Confessional emo, they interpret emo as “whiny watered down music for depressed kids who cut themselves.” With that as their idea of emo, it’s no wonder that people call The Used, or any other “whiny emotional band” that screams here and there “screamo.”

With emo standing for emotive hardcore, the way I see it, screamo would stand for:Emotive hardcore + screaming, right? Wrong. Emotive hardcore contains screamed and/or whispered vocals in it already. Screamo = Emo. Just leave it at that. Even so, bands like The Used that are being labeled as “screamo” by the media aren’t emotive hardcore, so the term “screamo” is completely misused. The term “screamo” can be used for a band like orchid, although emo works just as well, but not for something like The Used.

Screamo is made up by the media to sell bands like The Used, Poison The Well, and such, to people who don’t know any better. As I said before, with people calling Dashboard Confessional emo, it’s no wonder that they call any band that screams “screamo.” Alas, this is false.

In summary, Emo stands for emotive hardcore, not emotional. Emotional lyrics do not make a band emo. Dashboard confessional, Bright Eyes, My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, From Autumn To Ashes, and Atreyu are NOT emo. Screamo does not exist.
Some real emo bands are:
Rites of Spring
Indian Summer
Native Nod
Heroin
Antioch Arrow
Saetia
Orchid
Hot Cross
Transistor Transistor
City of Caterpillar
Wolfsheim
A Textbook Tragedy
Takaru
Louise Cyphre
Boa Narrow
The Mock Heroic
What Price Wonderland
Utarid
Danse Macabre
Zann
Am I Dead Yet
Dasein
Cease Upon the Capitol
June Paik
A Fine Boat That Coffin
SL-27
La Quiete
Shikari
Daitro
Yossarian Is Drowning
Raein

by Tash (by:Evan) January 08, 2006
(Noun, Adjective) - A word of many uses, emo generally describes:
A) A genre of music
B) Style of fasion
C) Lifestyle/subculture

(NOTE - The following may be just slightly biased)

Emo music (short for Emocore or Emotional Hardcore) is a derivitive of the mid 80's hardcore scene. Born in Washington D.C., early emo was a mix of hardcore punk with both emotional lyrics and performances, dominated by bands such as "Rites Of Spring" and "Embrace". By the late 90's, most original emo bands had disbanded or changed direction. From 2000 onwards, many bands have unwillingly or unrightfully been labled as emo, such as "Dashboard Confessional" and "Taking Back Sunday". Many "classic" emo fans and outsiders view modern emo music as warterd-down punk rock.

Emo fasion or "the emo look" has a number of simple characteristics. For males, hair should be black (although dark red/brown is acceptable), greassy, have a long fringe and a bang covering one eye. For females, although dark hair is prefered, any colour is acceptable. While hair may be cleaner, it must still cover a large portion of the face. Black shirts and jackets are worn, although on rare occasions an emo may wear a grey or white hoodie. Jeans are the clothing of choice for the emo, although for males anything out of their sisters closet is fine. Footware is typically any sort of skating shoe. To complete the look, apply excessive amounts of eyeshadow (males and females), put on a pair of black horned glasses and start listening to your eyepod.

Emo culture, dominated by middle to upper class suburban white teenagers, is characterised by weak music, self loathing and melodrama. After listening to some emo music (generally, but not always shite), emo-boy will log onto myspace to talk to his emo friends. After blogging about how shit life is, how he fucking hates his parents, and how the whole world hates him, he'll have a look at emo-girls myspace page. A quick look at the 17,000 photos she's uploaded (either of her looking into the distance, her looking up at the camera in a confused and drugfucked way or her at an emo gathering), emo-boy and emo-girl will chat to each other. The conversation quickly turns to how they are both alone and nobody understands them. Emo-boy has had enough of myspace (for a few minutes at least) and decides he is depressed. He writes a "deep and meaningfull" poem, before deciding to end it all. A quick slash of the wrists and it's time to sit in the dark and wait for the end to come. Unfortunately, he only drove the razor 2 milimetres into his skin, so there's a pretty good chance he'll be back at school next week, trying (not very hard) to hide his fresh scars and emotions.
"Wow, dashboard confessionaly are, soooooo deep"

"Cheer Up emo-kid"
by Gobshite101 July 15, 2006
The most defined word on urbandictionary.
I wish people would stop defining emo.
by The Dirty Pirate Whore October 11, 2008
A stupid trend. Followers of this trend, often referred to as emo kids, think they are "alternative" (how is that possible when MTV stirred it all up?), when infact they are just as much sheeps as the preps. All emo kids look the same. They share the exact same values. They listen to the same horrible bands. Is that to be an individual? Is that unique? No. Most don't even know the origins of emo. Many of them claim they are "non-conformists". These days, "non-conformist" has lost its true meaning and is just another synonym for poser. How does supporting major clothing lines such as Hot Topic make you a non-conformist? You are the antithesis of that. Wake up. The emo trend is like hair-metal; in a few years you'll burn all pictures of yourself, being so ashamed that you had such an ugly haircut.
The third-wave emo movement is a testimony on how MTV (Manipulating Teenage Views) is able to pick up just about anything and mold it into a trend in order to make money, even if this results in mindless teenagers who can't think for themselves and destroying what's left of the real music scenes.
by andrea 91 July 10, 2006
Something that all stereotypes agree on they hate.
Metalheads, preps, jocks, punk rockers and goths all put aside their differences and agree on one thing: they hate emos.
by andrea- July 03, 2006
An "Emo" really is just a confused teenager. The entire Emo subculture is rooted in music. Emo is short for "emotional" or "emotional hardcore." This type of music came about in D.C. in the 80's (before most self-proclaimed emos were even born.) The type of people who listened to this music had common tastes in fashion, and like many other fashion eras, they all began dressing the same way. Now the term Emo is associated more with behavior and style than it is with music. Simply don a pair Converse, a studded belt, head-to-toe black, and angled bangs, and voila--you're an Emo. Of course, there is the debate over real and wannabe Emos, but really they're all the same. They purposely choose to dress a certain way, act a certain way, listen to (or pretend to listen to) certain music, despite what their motives are. Whether their motives are sincere or superficial, all Emos have chosen to conform to a group of people they feel safe with. They would rather be called "weird" than be themselves and think for themselves. The ones that call themselves real Emos look and act (on the surface) like wannabe Emos. The only difference may be that they are truly admirers of the music scene, or that they truly have difficult family lives. Either way, they are all just this generation's subculture. Just like the Grunge group of the 90s or the Hippies of the 60s, the Emos have found their stereotypical shoe, their theme song, their color, and their attitude, and they will fight for it until the death (or until they grow weary of cutting themselves). If they do cut themselves, you will know it. The entire point of cutting is to garner sympathy and attention. Never will you find an Emo who secretly cuts him or herself. Emos are really just searching for a place to call home. Every teenager has to find some group to associate with, lest they be left out. In this way, Emos are no different than the Chavs. The Chavs are just looking for a group to fit into as well. While the Chav group may be much more dim-witted and emotionally numb, they too are just a group of scared teenagers looking for a family. One day, both Emos and Chavs will look back on their silly little phases and laugh. They'll also look back on their ridiculous Urban Dictionary entires and wonder how they were able to graduate from high school with such poor grammar and spelling skills.
"Hey Emos, you're never going to get a date if you keep wearing that same black hoodie every day."
by OmniscientOne August 16, 2007
1.Most overused word in high school.
2.Word people always feel like they have to tell you the "true" meaning of.
1. Ah they are so emo and now chad is emo and i hate emos and we should go make fun of emos and...hey watch it queer emo, oh that dumb emo just bumped into me
2.People think emo stands for emotional but really it is.......
by Rorschsch February 12, 2009
I looked at the other definitions, and there seems to few people on here that actually know what they're talking about. So I thought I'd add mine, with a bit of history and background information...

1976 saw the birth of punk, bringing with it many sub-genres, sub-sub-genres, and sub-sub-sub-sub-genres. In the early 80s, punk had branched off into several different styles, and ways of taking the genre. In 1981 there was a large amount of "hardcore" bands emerging from the D.C. scene. One of these bands were called "Minor Threat", who had a very vibrant, and melodic sound.

Nearing the end of 1983, the band "Minor Threat" broke up, after the band seemed to "run out of steam", and their last 7" single "Salad Days" in 1984 finally killed the band, and the DC hardcore scene.

After that new bands emerged, taking the genre their own way. 1984 showed the release of "Zen Arcade", an album by minneapolis band "Husker Du". This interpretation showed much more powerful, intense vocals with slow, melancholy and more melodic song writing.

In Spring 1984, D.C. Hardcore band "Rites of Spring" emerged, taking inspiration from the earlier hardcore scene. The band brought a totally new vocal approach to Husker Du's original style.

Summer 1985 became known as the "revolution summer" when a whole wave of hardcore bands emerged from the D.C. scene such as Gray Matter, Soulside, Ignition and Dag Nasty. Few bands retained the original fast paced, hardcore style proposed by "Rites of Spring" and "Husker Du" but took a much more droney, melodic approach to the genre.

These bands were then labelled the "D.C. Sound" or "D.C. Hardcore", and some of them were labelled "emo".

It was never suggested by Rites Of Spring that the term "emo" was short for anything. Although it has been proposed that emo was short for "emotive hardcore" or "emotionally charged hardcore punk" in a 1985 flipside interview with the band they claimed they were "not a punk rock band" and it was never mentioned in the text that they were "emotional" or "emotive" although the term "emo" was used several times.

Again, people took the genre several ways. Some people took an "Indie-rock" approach to the genre, while others retained a "post hardcore" style.

Many emo bands were poorly paid, underground, and rarely heard of, and few records were ever released around the genre. Which is probably why today it is so easily mistaken and misunderstood.

The "D.C. hardcore scene" grew, and with it, a stereotype fashion. People with a "Mop-top" haircut, skinny t-shirts and old trainers became a classic "D.C. hardcore scene" cliche. However, not all of these were "emo fans" nor were they in any way "emo's". It is suggested that this idea was taken, and progressed through the nineties to a much more "geeky" look nowadays.

However, emo is a genre of music, argue all you like, your still wrong. Saying "I am an emo" is like saying "I am a jazz", which is not possible. Emo has been heavily marketed by magazines (Kerrang etc.) and a totally wrong idea of the genre is now being spread across youths.

The early 90s saw a last breath for emo, with a much more softer, "Indie-rock" take on the genre. After that, the rest is history. It's a shame the genre was dragged through the gutter like that.
Emo - Rites Of Spring, Dag Nasty, SDRE, Drive Like Jehu, Fugazi...

What? - GUYS IN GIRL PANTS R HOT!!!11

Anything to do with 14 year old girls instantly becomes void of the possibility of it having anything to do with emo.
by Jorj May 25, 2006
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