“Cheer up, emo kid!” was a common, cheerfully spoken phrase used by many highschoolers in the early 2000s. This was the start of the era of asymmetrical multicolored hair, skinny jeans, studded belts, and eyeliner for all. Band t-shirts were worn as badges of pride, bad poetry and mixed CDs were swapped and pored over.
Emo (which stands for Emotion) was a peculiar musical trend for a number of years, evolving from the goth and punk subcultures of the 80s and 90s. Early adopters had the good fortune to be raised alongside Myspace, a platform you might not be familiar with if your kids are younger than 20.
Myspace was a place to share music, to emblazon a personal page with glittering icons and photos of favorite celebrities (much like an electronic bedroom wall). Users could select who their top friends were, displayed their taste in music, and otherwise experimented with style and personality.
Bands like My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy sold out arenas, drew millions of fans to buy tens of millions of records, and gave a flicker of light to The Hopeless Generation*.
The trend died sometime in the late 2010s, though a few faithful practitioners carried the torch in the tradition of the goths and the punks of the decades before.
But unlike its darker goths and angrier punk counterparts, emo is making a huge resurgence, and much sooner than expected. Trends in fashion based in nostalgia tend to come in cycles, often after a few decades of dormancy. Bell bottoms, for example, made the rounds again in just the past few years, after disappearing from mainstream fashion for over 40 years.
Emo has risen from the dead, and the body didn’t even have time to get cold. In a fantastically timed comeback, the emo anthem band My Chemical Romance is touring this year after a six year hiatus. Fall Out Boy is playing shows in Europe.
As the younger generations flock to the emotionally-charged music that defined the kids of the 2000s, it will be interesting to observe the effects in the era of advanced technology. With the proliferation of TikTok, there’s potential for trends to arise that the first generation of emos never dreamed of. Instead of disappearing like they did when Myspace vanished, they’ll exist in perpetuity online. Suffice it to say we’ll be seeing a lot more emo hair and eyeshadow from here on out.
*by some expert estimates, late millennials and parts of Gen-Z are the most stressed-out generations, wrought with depression, high suicide rates, and other risk factors.