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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Emo = Emotional Hardcore

Contrary to popular belief,
Emo is not about being depressed or cutting,
it's not short for emotional,
it has nothing to do with teenage posers who follow the trend of pretending to be bisexual, depressed, and wearing all black.
It's not a fashion.
The fashion that's commonly referred to as "emo fashion",
is actually called "scene".
And MCR and Fallout Boy are NOT emo.

In actuality, It's a branch off of hardcore punk that started in the mid 80s with the punk band, Rites of Spring.
They hated the glorified violence and restrained music that infected the D.C. hardcore scene,
and took hardcore to a greater level of experimentation
with more emotional lyrics and more melodic instruments.

Soon after, a surge of new bands started forming and creating their own adaption of the style that Rites of Spring innovated.
The summer of 1985 became known as "revolution summer".
Good emo bands from "revolution summer" include:
Rites of Spring, Embrace, Moss Icon, Dag Nasty, Gray Matter,
Nation of Ulysses, and Fire Party.

After the disbanding of Rites of Spring,
Ian MacKaye (from Embrace) and Guy Picciotto (from Rites of Spring) formed the post-hardcore band Fugazi in the early 90s. who influenced bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate, Far, Braid, and Jimmy Eat World.
In my opinion, Sunny Day Real Estate are to mall emo, (the music that's commonly referred to as emo today)
as Rites of Spring are to emo.
They started the whole movement of mainstream "emo" bands.

Happening at the same time,
was the the unground movement of screamo.
Screamo sounded similar to emo,
but louder and with a lot more screaming and slightly different song structures.
Screamo started with bands such as Antioch Arrow, Palatka,
Portraits of the Past, and The Swing Kids.
The music comprised of brutal yet somewhat melodic guitars, loud, fast drums, song structures that switch from quiet to loud, and obviously, screaming vocals.

One thing that's not true is when people say real emo is a dead genre.
because, while mainstream "emo" has taken over MTV and the radio, an underground emo/screamo scene still exists.
Circle Takes the Square, Raein, Daitro, Haram, 1905, and ...Who Calls So Loud, City of Caterpillar are all examples of emo (and screamo) bands from the last eight years, most of them are still existing.
It's not a dead genre, you just have to look for the real deal.
Person1: Is My Chemical Romance emo?
Person2: NO.
Person1: Then what is emo?
Person2: *points to definition*
by JetBlackMirror January 09, 2009

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emos are not all depressed, want to kill themselfs, smoke, cut, biosexual and do drugs. Some do but not all. I personaly like the emo style because they don't dress like sluts and go around picking on people. I also like the color black witch they generaly were. they do often liston to different varieties of rock. And are passionate in their music and friends. They are often more emotional but they can't help that. Sometimes they just need a friend.
Me= look at that emo kid he could use a friend.
You= he looks like a jerk just like the rest of them.
Me= He is really nice once you get to know him. You just need to give emos a chance.
by Cazlyne Neuburkman August 23, 2006

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There are lots of different types of emos and they dont all cut or hate everything.
Emos pretty much love music. Its a big part of their lives. Not all emos cut themselves tho some do. If they do, its usually for a good reason and not just planned out for attention (unless they are wannabe emos)They have a certain style and many people hate them but I really dont understand why because they are just kids trying to find who they really are. They probably really do have hard lives. most people dont make shit up like that ok? if you have a good life i dont see why you would. Lots of them are looking for love. I know I am. So Dont judge them.
by emo is love July 10, 2008

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Attention whores. Kids and young adults who really don't have any actual problems, and instead decide to use their creativity, or lack thereof, to craft false problems.

Emo kids are mostly seen with acoustic guitars and My Chemical Romance attire, as well as black hair that simply screams "kick me in the balls as hard as you can".

High-pitch nasally voice can often be heard uttering the words "You just don't understand", followed by the sound of slamming door, then muffled whimpering as the individual proceeds to scratch their wrist, hoping you'll take notice of their weak and futile efforts to portray suicide and/or self-mutilation.

But most notably, Emos keep records of thier so-called "problems" in diaries. These records mostly include pointless whiny rants:
"Dear Diary, those stupid jocks at school think I'm gay. Why can't they understand that heterosexual boys like me just like to kiss other heterosexual boys once in a while. They're so mean, and it depresses me... They say I'm Emo, even though I'm just misunderstood."
*sniff* *scratch*
"They just don't understand"
"And Karen dumped me today. She says I'm the perfect guy, and that I'm always there for her, just like when her Chimichangas were too cold, and she ended up cutting her wrist out of shear depression. She says it's not me, it's her. She says I'm too good for her. I love her so much... I think I'll express my undying love for her by throwing my pillows and crying... and perhaps I'll write a love song and sing it off-key..."
*sniff*

by 2phast July 18, 2006

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An easy was of describing a person who

*Listens to emotionally hardcore music
*Shops at hot topic and lovebites and bruises
*Has black hair with funky bits, long at font, short at back, with side fringe, anything too crazy is considered scene
*Has a Myspace/Livejournal
Kid 1: what did he look like?
Kid 2: He had side parted black ahir, tight trousers, glasses ...
Kid 1: You mean "emo"??
by jojofaceball May 03, 2007

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Dear Diary,
Mood; apathetic. My parents are squeezing me tighter than my little sisters jeans...which look great on me by the way...people call gay cause like make out with dudes...or four dudes sometimes...but can't a guy be in touch with his emotions and make out with a dude or like four dudes and not be gay? well, I guess you wouldn't understand..no one ever does...where the hell are my candy cigarretes?
What is emo? What is existance? you wouldn't understand.
by *sigh* March 06, 2006

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Please note that i'm referring to current emos.

Emo, emotional, "emotive" (emotive is no longer a current term though). I know many current emos who describe themselve as emotional- finding "emo" to be an incorrect term (seeing as "emo" is a music genre, not a subculture).

Clothes: Normally tight shirts and jeans, hoodies/jackets at any size (I prefer a mixture of tight and baggy hoodies), and Converse or Vans (I love my Converses). A lot of black and bright/light colors such as pinks, purples, and light blues.

Makeup: Heavy dark makeup. Your eyes must show how dark of a person you are...lol, don't take it too seriously. Dark makeup around the eyes, making the eyes stand out, but sometimes with a bit of color as well (color optional). Sometimes little shapes like hearts, stars, or even tear drops can be drawn near your eyes with eyeliner as well. Nails? Black is a given, but many people like to mix it up; 10 different finger nails, 10 possible colors. Facial piercings are optional by the way. Google "emo pics" or something for a better understanding on makeup.

Hair: Big bang swooped across the face. Again, goggling "emo pics" would give you a better understanding. Possibly a few spikes, lightly teased, and a little color, I believe it ends there. Too much further and you're in the scene territory. I love scene hairstyles, but i'm not scene so I shouldn't try and steal from them...even though they are a sub-sub culture of us.

By the way, emo styles WILL very. All of those things above? You don't have to do ANY of it to be emo. The reason why most real emos would rather be called "emotional" is because it's the feeling that counts. To be honest, if you follow this kind of "emo code" to much, you'll just look like a poser...emos hate posers. Me? I mess up my hair and a little eyeshadow in a funky color, but I don't even do the heavy black eyes thing; I don't have enough time in the morning to put on that much makeup, lol. And no, black isn't mandetory. I do wear a lot of dark colors, but I don't always wear black. Two weeks ago I wore a mixture of white and tan colors, and i'm not any less emo for it.

Mood/Style: While stereotypically, we are supposedly depressed, sucidal, cut/harm ourselves, write dark poetry, and cry 24/7, not exactly true. Maybe for some of us, but my emo friends and I certainly don't. I'm often depressed, rarely suicidal anymore (thank god), I have burst out in tears for no reason a few times but not regularly, and i've only thought about cutting; i've never done it. As for poetry, I write happy and gloomy poems, but most of the ones I write are love poems.

My point of view? Emos are indeed emotional, but many...or at least some of us, aren't just "whinny babys". We tend to be quiet, passionate, loving people who are just damaged or bruised.
More Mood/Style: Some of us tend to have a thing for stuffed animals/plushies/etc etc. Could be a dinosaur, hello kitty, anime plush, or a regular stuffed animal your aunt Lue sent you, lol. I don't carry stuffed animals around 24/7, but some days I can't help but take an anime plush to school with me.

Myspace: Having a Myspace page is currently one of the latest non-fading emo fads. Get a lot of members, take a lot of photos, have an emo/depressing/dark layout, and be on often.

Emo music: *sigh* I don't even really want to mention emo music. Too much controversy. "That's a emo band!" "No it's not!" "There's no such thing as emo music!" I've heard them all. But, i'll list a few bands that i'd put in the emo category. You don't have to agree with me.

Panic! at the Disco, Taking Back Sunday, Hawthorne Heights, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Head Automatica, Cartel, Fallout Boy (before they hit it big), 30 Seconds to Mars & many more.

By the way, many emos wouldn't be caught dead without their mp3 player/music device.

Conclusion:

"So whats emo really?" A music genre. Emotional, or Emotive is the subculture. We are dark people, but not as dark as goths. We are similar to punks mainly in style, but are attitudes tend to differ. We are dark people, but loving people, full of passionate emotions. We look sad on the outside, and feel better to be able to admit our pain to the world- making us feel better on the inside. We're not all sucidal or cutters; I know quite a few emos who think it's uncool to cut. We think it's dumb, just like you, to cut for no reason especially. We are full of emotion, we are emos.
"I show my dark emotions through my clothes, poetry, attitude, and the music I listen to. I'm not a bad person, i'm just darker and more in touch with my emotions than you."
by Inuoko November 29, 2008

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