While your Idolators do their best to cover every possible genre of music imaginable–hip-hop, indie, even the occasional Christian-rap jam–there’s one form of music that’s always made us shudder with disdain: Emo. “What are these dudes so miserable about?” we’d ask. “And why do their voices always sound like they just had their deviated septum pinched?” But because we’re naive enough to believe that even the most potentially iffy music movement has its merits, we’ve asked Arye Dworken–a writer who blogs for both Jane Magazine and his own Bring Back Sincerity site–to guide us through this weepy minefield. His first report after the click-through:
With the exception of avant-noise, polka, and acid jazz, I like music. And as both a critic and an avid appreciator, I try to listen to every record while keeping two qualifiers in mind: Is it a) good, or is it b) bad. The good ones are often mined further for potential, sometimes even meeting the criteria of “awesome,” and sometimes waiting to be re-examined at a later date when someone calls the album “underrated.” The bad…well, the bad ones get boxed up and shipped to secondspin.com.
Sadly, though, music fans all over the world will inexplicably evaluate an emo record as bad without having listened to it. And for shame! In some instances, they’re missing out on a good record–one that they’ll never even try out, for fear that it might make their testicles shrink. Granted, there’s a plethora of poop in this genre (see: Red Jumpsuit Apparatus); but there’s also some poop-free wonderfulness to be found.*
Beginning with this post, Idolator has allowed for a thrice-monthly column on the controversial genre. Now whether you’re all “right-on,” or completely WTF, you nonetheless have feelings about emo, as it’s undeniably the most polarizing genre in rock, splitting the masses between haterade drinkers or Hot Topic frequenters. Inevitably, the haters will complain that emo is too whiney, too self-absorbed, and small-minded, but then again, these are also exactly the reasons for its popularity.
Which is why it’s unconscionable when emo wunderkinds Panic! At The Disco’s were quoted in a recent issue of NME as saying that, “emo was bullshit.” As lead singer Brendon Urie noted (rather emotionally, we might add): “If people want to take it for the literal sense of the word, yes we’re an emotional band. We put a lot of thought into what we do. People always try to stereotype us, but we don’t fit the emo stereotype.”
This sort of denial is perplexing. Why would Urie, the current younger sister heartthrob, diss the butter on his bread? After all, would Jay-Z say hip-hop is worthless if his records were selling like chocolate-chip cookies? Would Justin Timberlake swear off recording pop music after realizing that every hetero male in this country feels their sexuality is threatened by his Diaz-baiting almightiness? Of course not. Because this is giving people what they want.
Starting from hereon in, three times-a-month, we’ll be embracing our inner emo. It’s not going to be pretty. Someone may cry, and we’ll probably express things that sound like feelings, but though it all, we’ll hold each other tight. Maybe we’ll even write a song about the experience, record it on four-track, then sign to a major label, and sell millions of records. But no matter what happens, we’ll keep an open mind, because that’s what your younger sister would do.
A random selection as chosen by the Emo Sommelier:
+44 – “When Your Heart Stops Beating (Remix) [MP3, link removed]
When Mark Hoppus announced the formation of his post-blink 182 band, he said it was going to be his electronic project (akin to the Postal Service). He lied. Which is why this remix of his first single “When Your Heart Stops Beating” is so much more satisfying than anything on +44′s debut.
Brand New – Degausser [MP3, link removed]
The Long Island quartet has been very vocal about wanting to outgrow the emo-tag and we all know that nothing says “credibility” like a children’s choir in the chorus.
Young Love – Discotech [MP3, link removed]
With Fall Out Boy’s “Dance, Dance” and Dan Keyes’ (the man behind all the Young Love) inarguably catchy song “Discotech,” there seems to be an emo movement, or emovement, toward bringing that frown onto the dance floor. Finally a justification for wearing those wristbands despite the fact the kids hate sports.
*(Ed. note: “Poop-Free Wonderfulness” is not to be confused with the Gainesville, Fl., emo band of the same name)