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

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The look a guy has when he catches his dick in his zipper.
No wonder Chet looked really emo last night, he had a zipper accident.
by benth August 21, 2008

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The next generation of mass marketed personality. Like all those fads before it, the naive audience too swept up in temporary acceptance, beleive will last forever. No fad ever maintains its "identity" past the time it takes for one to grow up and look back on childhood pictures and see what a tool they were. Anyone who beleives emo is anything more than a marketing device is too ignorant to search for their real identity. As of late, the "technology generation" has subconciously accepted their place as a demographic, and willingly accept the exploitation and leadership by psuedo music artists and fasion designers.
Bobby: Me and my girlfriend broke up, i think im going to kill myself in a wild, dramatic car accident, if only my eyes weren't too fogged with tears.
Grown-up: You want something to cry about, try being $300 in debt, and $500 behind on cable/gas/electric bills. All the while being asked for dollars and ciggarettes by some urban trash on the way to your apartment.
by Sparky Dog August 19, 2005

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Emo was first a music genre, but now it is sometimes accepted as a social clique.
What most people think it is, is someone that wears mostly dark clothing, guys that where eyeliner, and they all cut themselves.
What I have found it to actually be is people who might not have the hardest of lives, but just enough problems to make them think they do. They are not as sad as people think though, they only want other people to think they are. It is just the same as someone who over uses jokes because they have a low self esteem, except sad instead of glad. They might write poetry, where make up, skinny jeans, and stuff, but most "emo" guys are straight. And emo's who are not faking it do not like to be called emo. they are just whoever they are, without labels. the conception that they cut themselves is wrong. some do, but I've met a few preps who take out a razor, to. emo's are just as conforming as all the rest, and the real ones will admit it. they aren't trying to be abnormal, they just like how they look.
-wanna be: hey look at me scars!!! im emo now!! :D
-real thing: no your not. your just a poser and your stupid.
by //ErikKastles// January 21, 2009

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How to be emo:

Wear only skinny jeans or old, crappy, tight, cut-up jeans. Wear tight shirts that you can barely get over your head. If after getting dressed you can't breathe and look like a hobo, you've done it right. No shoes but low-top Converse or slip-on Vans are acceptable. Anything out of Hot Topic will do.

Dye your hair with the cheapest, least-convincing black dye you can find. Nothing over 99 cents. Fix it so that you look like you just rolled out of bed then walked through a hurricane and lost a fight with a lawn mower.

Peirce everything you can reach, and put in the largest, ugliest rings you can find.

Dark, thick makeup is key in the emo world. Never leave the house without putting on globs and globs of badly-put-on black eyeliner. Extreme amounts of bright pink eyeshadow is optional.

Now that we've covered the emo look, it's time to teach you to act the part of an emo, so the others won't think of you as a poser.

Flip your hair vigorously every ten seconds. If your neck is broken at the end of the day, good job.

Whine about your pathetic life every chance you get, (twice as much if your parents are divorced) but never reveal that you live in saburbia. If asked where you reside, say something emo like, "The depths of living hell", "The home of sorrow", or some other pussy shit like that.

Always have your MySpace mood set to "apathetic," and make sure to have about 986730865734567349576 pictures of yourself with extremely emo captions that have plenty of X's. It is necessary to be a MySpace whore, and to beg for picture comments in a bulletin every ten minutes.

Only listen to emo bands such as Dashboard Confessional, My Chemical Romance, ect. If there is an extremely popular emo band at your school, say that you like them even if you don't.

Make it widely known that you cut yourself every night with a razorblade while listening to emo music. If ever asked why, say something stupid like, "I cut myself to stay ALIVE! You would NEVER understand!" Then run away crying, even if you are not upset.

Finally, always deny that you are emo. Claim to be scene, goth, or a "non-conformist." But always keep in mind that you are, and always will be, a pussy little emo fag.
Emo kid: My life is a big black whole of sorrow and nothingness. My razorblade is the only thing that lets me know I am still alive.

Normal kid: Fuck you, emo.

Emo kid: Oh em gee! I'm not emo! I'm SCENE!

Normal kid: What's the difference?

Emo kid: You don't UNDERSTAND! Why does nobody get me!?!?! *Runs away crying and cutting himself, preparing to post this event on his blog.*
by Disasterpiece January 02, 2008

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1. Short for "emotive". Coined by Ian MacKaye, commonly known from Fugazi and Minor Threat.
2. Type of music characterized by heartfelt, although sometimes whiny lyrics.
3. Person who listens to afformentioned type of music. Stereotypically wears too-small sweaters and tight jeans, black horn-rimmed glasses, and straight black hair, although this is not always true. Sometimes a vegan, sometimes straight edge.
Look at that emo kid pouring his heart out on stage.
by Sapnotaja March 05, 2004

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Emo is whatever you think it is, its different for everyone.
That emo is all depressed and stuff, while that emo is all happy, and that emo is just plain strange.
by HappyEmo January 27, 2008

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To me, it's a label. A stupid steriotype.
Emo's ARE NOT wrist cutters. Wrist cutters are wrist cutters.

Emo's can laugh and smile.

It's not a bad damn thing! Some of my best friends are emoish. I don't see why people like to make fun of them.

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE IS NOT EMO!

Not all emos where tight pants.

We dont go and cry every time we get made fun of. Some of us can beat your ass :]

And that is my definition of emo.

If you don't like it, then screw you :]
Prep: Fawking emo!
Emo: ...-Punches the prep right in the face- HA!
by Jayde~ July 10, 2008

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