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12 Bands Every Self-Respecting Emo Should Have On Their Playlist

Because we all know My Chem didn't actually start the Emo movement.

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1. "For Want Of" - Rites of Spring

Youtube: ritesofspr

Rites of Spring are seen as the founding fathers of the Emo genre. Though the origins of the term Emotive Hardcore is unclear, the band mentioned in a 1985 interview that their fans had started calling their music Emotive Hardcore and the term stuck.

Emo lyric:

"But I woke up this morning with a piece of past caught in my throat

And then I choked."

2. "Dance of Days" - Embrace / Creative Commons

Embrace were a short-lived post hardcore band from Washington and were one of the first bands dubbed in the media as 'emotional hardcore,' though the members did dispute the name. They lasted from 1985 - 1986.

Emo lyric:

"You know I thought my eyes would be dry

But now I see and know."

3. "Waiting Room" - Fugazi

Youtube: Grazy321

Fugazi are one of the longer-lasting bands to fall under the original Emo definition. Fugazi consisted of former members of Rites of Spring and formed in 1986. The band has been on an indefinite hiatus since 2000.

Emo lyric:

"Please don't leave me to remain

In the waiting room."


4. "Little League" - Cap'n Jazz

Youtube: Sam Zurick

Formed in 1989, Cap'n Jazz may have started the trend for Emo bands to name their songs / albums with ridiculously long names. Their debut album was called "Burritos, Inspiration Point, Fork Balloon Sports, Cards In The Spokes, Automatic Biographies, Kites, Kung Fu, Trophies, Banana Peels We've Slipped On and Egg Shells We've Tippy Toed Over" ... but was otherwise known as Shmap'n Shmazz.

Emo lyric:

"Hey Ringwald haze.

We're using bruises too loosely in a haste to lose me.

And I've given all I could give."

5. "Boxcar" - Jawbreaker / Creative Commons

Considered one of the most influential bands in the early 1990s Emo movement, Jawbreaker continued the work of the original Emo bands - however taking the hardcore sound of the music and mashing it with pop-punk sensibilities - which would go on to influence many bands towards the mid to late 90s.

Emo lyric:

"My enemies are all too familiar.

They're the ones who used to call me friend."

6. "Seven" - Sunny Day Real Estate

Youtube: Sub Pop

Sunny Day Real Estate were another band who lead the change in Emo music, leading it towards a slightly more mainstream sound. The band gave off a more polished sound compared to their grungier counterparts, and it was a sound other bands started to embellish upon towards the mid-90s.

Emo lyric:

"The waiting could crush my heart

The tide breaks a wave of fear."


7. "The Magic Bullet Theory" - Texas Is The Reason

Youtube: pillgrimsprogress

Texas Is The Reason burst onto the scene in 1994 and were influential in the way they mixed the post-hardcore vibe of the original Emo music with the burgeoning indie-rock sound. Their band title makes reference to a conspiracy theory surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Emo lyric:

"I never meant to keep it in the dark

I know it doesn't mean much coming from me.

You want to laugh like they laugh?

Go ahead and laugh your face off, faker."

8. "Rockstar"- Jimmy Eat World

Influenced by Sunny Day Real Estate, Jimmy Eat World are often credited for driving the Emo music from indie to mainstream. They were one of the first bands to release an Emo inspired record on a major label, thus pushing the genre into higher international recognition.

Emo lyric:

"Get off my battlefield.

Could not take it back from you.

It's all the way up top.

Cannot take a longer way."

9. "The Days of the Phoenix" - AFI

Though the band AFI (A Fire Inside) had formed in 1991, their brand of Emo music hit commercial success in the early 2000s. AFI were among an influx of bands in that era that encompassed Emo as a style of music as well as a bigger cultural influence.

Emo lyric:

"The girl on the wall always waited for me,

And she was always smiling

The teenage death boys

The teenage death girls

And everyone was dancing."


10. "Vampires Will Never Hurt You" - My Chemical Romance

Youtube: Ganonn Palafox

My Chemical Romance are the poster boys for the mid-2000s Emo wave. But before the release of every scene kids mantra "I'm Not Okay," the band's first album hosted a lot of grungier, more traditional Emo songs.

Emo Lyric:

"Struck down, before our prime

Before, you got off the floor

Can you stake my heart? Can you stake my heart?"

11. "Cute Without The 'E'" - Taking Back Sunday

Youtube: TakingBackSundayVEVO

The debut album 'Tell All Your Friends' from Taking Back Sunday was highly praised upon release and is now considered a hugely influential album in driving the modern Emo scene. While initially charting low, the album was later certified gold, spurring the explosion of mainstream labels signing bands considered 'Emo.'

Emo lyric:

"When everything you'll get is

everything that you've wanted, princess

(well which would you prefer)

My finger on the trigger, or

(me face down, down across your floor)

Well just as long as this thing's loaded."

12. "Sugar We're Goin' Down" - Fall Out Boy

Youtube: FallOutBoyVEVO

The Emo phase well and truly moved into mainstream settings with the introduction of bands such as Fall Out Boy. With emotional lyrics but a pop-punk sound, Fall Out Boy are seen as one of the most marketable 'Emo' bands in the modern era.

Emo lyric:

"I'll be your number one with a bullet

A loaded god complex, cock it and pull it."