Whether or not you want to think about, school is about to start. That means more homework, more teachers, and more excuses to cut class. Seeing the back to school commercials always makes me think of going back to high school, which then makes me think about music during that time. Specifically emo music. Just like everywhere else, there were kids roaming the hallways jet black hair and way too much eyeliner. Similar for their love of Hot Topic, they had an undying love for certain bands that popped up around the time. Some of them were so big that even I couldn’t get away from them. So here’s a playlist dedicated to the most popular emo songs and bands from 2003 – 2007. I’m not saying these bands are emo, but they’re names are usually associated with the genre.
“All That I’ve Got” – The Used
I was never heavily into The Used, but for some reason I used to like this song. It has this kind of whimsical feel to it with the light tinkling music and Bert McCracken’s noticeably softer vocals. The band was known for their screaming and brash sound, so this was a pretty big change for them. This was also their most accessible song since it sounded kind of nice. Apparently, the track is dedicated to McCracken’s dog, David Bowie, who got hit by a truck. Like many of the bands on the list, this was one people in high school listened to and thought it made them a basass. Hopefully, they’ve learned by now.
“I Write Sins Not Tragedies” – Panic! At the Disco
I’ve always considered P!ATD Fall Out Boy with more whimsy and catchier songs. They popped up right at the peak of FOB popularity and swayed listeners with their blend of pop punk, synth, dance, and baroque. Though many weren’t sure what the song was about when it was released, the band’s second single gained many fans with its memorable hook and sing along ability. If you’re wondering about the title, it’s a reference to a Douglas Adams book called Shampoo Planet. Throughout their entire debut album, the band makes references to novels, including Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters giving their lyrics a little more sustenance.
“Memory” – Sugarcult
Sugarcult is one of those bands where I recognized their name, but never listened to them. Still, I somehow heard this song a bunch of times without realizing who it was. With that opening line of “This may never start/we could fall apart” it burns itself into your memory…get it? That’s the name of the song? Nevermind. It’s one of those songs that was easy to ignore, but took me back to slamming lockers and crowded hallways as soon as it started.
“Welcome to My Life” – Simple Plan
Oh Simple Plan. I’ll admit, I liked them for a bit, until I realized all their songs sound the same. This along with the emo-tastic “Perfect” were anthems for the youth that felt misunderstood and disaffected. Simple Plan was apparently the voice of reason. Listening to the song now they’re so fucking whiny. They make small annoyances and frustrations sound bigger than they are, which I guess describes high school in general. And Pierre Bouvier’s vocals are so grating they make me want to jam a cotton swab in my ear. Now, they’re considered a phase in music that most people would rather forget.
“Sugar, We’re Going Down” – Fall Out Boy
If there was one song you couldn’t escape from in 2005 it was this one. Though they’d already been establishing themselves in the Chicago music scene, they exploded on to the mainstream with this single. It’s so fucking catchy that you listened to the song even if you hated it. With the weird video and Patrick Stump’s slurring vocals, the song became a hit and thus began the Fall Out Boy reign. Today, they claim they can save rock and roll and name songs after famous actresses. Somehow, they’re more annoying now than they ever were when this song hit. If you want someone to blame for absurdly long song titles, just look at the tracklist for their second LP.
“I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” – My Chemical Romance
MCR were another one of those bands that outcast teens to flocked to share their pain and apathy. Look no further than this song that has it all in its melodramatic title. The song expanded their audience and gained them such a loyal following that hearts were bruised and crushed when they broke up in 2013. The song is not awful by any means, but listening to it now from an older perspective you can see how the lyrics may not be as deep and clever as you once thought. Hell, I used to be an MCR fan, until the Black Parade.
“Note to Self” – From First to Last
Many bands during the mid 2000s donned themselves with black dye, eyeliner, and hair in their faces. This pretty much describes From First to Last. I never liked this band when they were popular. I remember seeing them all over my copies of Alt Press and thinking “The lead singer looks like he was hit in the face.” Just hearing a few minutes of this song, they have the high pitched whiny vocals that was standard for a lot of these bands. Who knew that years later Sonny Moore would adopt a new hair style and dub himself as Skirllex.
“The Truth About Heaven” – Armor For Sleep
These guys weren’t as popular as some of the other bands on the list and I can’t remember how I found out about them. I just know that there was a long time when I would play this song on repeat, especially when it felt like the world was on my shoulders. The song comes from their second album which is all about a protagonist’s suicide and his journey through the afterlife. Can you get any more emo than that?
“Wow! I Can Get Sexual Too” – Say Anything
So this song is not necessarily emo, but the band is often lumped into that category and this is the only one I know by them. Thanks to the wonderful Fuse network, I stumbled upon this track and thought it was hilarious. The somewhat dirty hook stayed in my brain and made me sing it on repeat (except when my mom was around). It’s not awful, but looking back at it the song, and the video, are quite stupid. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to listen to every once in a while.
“Ohio is for Lovers” – Hawthorne Heights
Hawthorne Heights‘ debut single burst onto the scene and made the band pretty popular. The video circulated quite a bit on MTV2, where I originally saw it. At the time, I thought the song was really dark with the line “So cut my wrists and black my eyes,” but I don’t feel the same way now. Similar to other bands on the list, they have the whiny vocals going on with the added touch of screamo, which made me think they were more intense than they actually are. The song, which is about leaving behind their girlfriends while touring, has been called the Emo Anthem and after listening to it for so long it’s not hard to figure out why. The band would go on to have more successful singles, each more melancholy than the last.
“Face Down” – The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
It seems like this band received mainstream attention right as the “golden age” of emo was ending. This was one of those songs where you heard snippets of it everywhere and never knew who sang it. It’s so damn catchy that it gets stuck in your head and you find yourself singing it even if you don’t want to. Hell, I’ve sang it a few times even though I’m not a fan of it. The song isn’t horrible, but personally it’s nothing special. Though they’ve released several albums since this song, this is still what they’re known for.
“MakeDamnSure” – Taking Back Sunday
TBS already gave us the wonderful “Cute Without the E (Cut from the Team)” a few years earlier, which is a popular song for the genre, but this is the one that received the most attention when I was in high school. This single along with the subsequent album Louder Now, is what pushed the band into the mainstream. The song is catchy and pretty accessible. I had a couple of friends who loved the song and thought singer Adam Lazzara was super hot. Looking back on it, it is a pretty great song. It doesn’t fall into too many of the emo cliches and has aged pretty well.
Were any of these songs on the soundtrack to your life? Which emo band was your favorite? Let me know in the comments!