Where Are They Now?: Emo's 10-Year High School Reunion
Photo by Nicole Zeno
Mainstream emo in the early 2000s was a harsh mistress to keep. For those of us into the true underground form of it, it was an offensive burden to deal with, but at least some good bands were getting some mainstream success.
Others? Well, we'd just have to deal with them. Of course, all that's over now. The whole thing's gone back underground. And what about all those mainstream torchbearers?
As covered in a previous article I wrote, many jumped ship and found more success in happier genres. Others refused to let it die and are today something similar to what hair metal guys were in the era of grunge.
Since the majority of these bands' fans were in high school and pretty much stopped paying attention afterwards, consider this your high-school reunion, where you get to see all the embarrassing things your old friends from those days have been up to. Trust me, they're much worse off these days than you are.
5. Hawthorne Heights
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Well-known for their 2004 hit "Ohio is for Lovers," Hawthorne Heights never managed to achieve legitimate consideration by true fans of post-hardcore and emo music, yet they've tried their damndest. So much so that they're still around in 2012 and have scarcely changed their sound. The above video is four songs from their latest EP released in June, titled Hope.
Strangely enough for someone like me, who dismissed HH outright back in the day, there's something nostalgic about their sound today and I find myself enjoying this much more than I ever enjoyed them before. Maybe they're just more focused on writing good music now that they're aware they'll never see chart success again. A golf clap for Hawthorne Heights, everyone.
4. Jimmy Eat World
Jimmy Eat World was one of the first emo bands to push into the mainstream and, to be honest, I've never begrudged them as much for it as many others. You can't deny that "The Middle" was an extremely catchy and addictive song. But they still seem to think they can hold onto that fame and it's just not happening.
As of 2010's release, Invented, Jimmy Eat World is still pursuing a similar sound to their original one, with some minor updates. But listen to that single above. Does it remind you of anything? Well, that's because the chorus melody is entirely a rip of "Gone Away" by the Offspring. Nice one, Jimmy Eat World. Apparently, they're taking their cues on staying relevant from the Red Hot Chili Peppers now.
Saves the Day have always had trouble getting over the hump of singer Chris Conley sounding like a woman. They've managed to maintain a truer form of the emo sound over the years, but in a genre with such a gender bias toward males, especially one where half the singers are just screaming like they're being killed by an axe murderer, it's not conducive to acceptance to legitimately sound like a woman.
That being said, they're still going strong. The above track is from their 2011 album Daybreak and if you heard that in 1999 you wouldn't have guessed it was from the future one bit. In that way, they've at least managed to stay close to their roots, but that's exactly the problem: do you hear any growth there? I don't. It's not even nostalgic to hear it from these guys either, it's just sort of sad.
2. My Chemical Romance
Full disclosure, as much as MCR has always been an affront to true emo, no one can deny loving "Welcome to the Black Parade." I'm sorry, I don't like saying it either, but you know you love it. You know you do.
But then, what are they thinking by still making music today? They did their thing. They did it really well. And now it's over, right? Well, it was up until 2010 when the above single and its album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, came out.
There's apparently some huge concept going on here, which I'm not sure anyone but diehard fans are even paying attention to, but one thing people did pay attention to was all the borrowing going on. The riff at 1:38 is a clear ripoff of the opening to Say Anything's "Belt," and the whole song has variously been likened to the Zutons, Powerman 5000 and Muse. So they ripped off all those artists and still couldn't make a decent track? Weak.
Yellowcard left us in 2008 and everybody rejoiced. Then, for some damned reason, they came back . I haven't the slightest idea why, but they're still around today, pumping out sub-emo "jams" with violin stylings.
Judging by the above song, latest single "Always Summer," Yellowcard clearly did not get back together for any artistic reason since their music shows absolutely no progression since 2003. Maybe they felt like people wanted to hear songs like this again. Can we please simply say, "thanks, but no thanks" to this?