Thursday, August 04, 2011


As much as I despise jam bands (and oh, do I despise jam bands), I think my most visceral rock hatred is reserved for the much-and-justly maligned genre known as Emo. The merger of introspective lyrics with loud and fast guitars, whiny vocals and hardcore imagery that broke big in the early aughts with horrible bands like My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy sounds more painful to my ears than a thousand covers of “Box of Rain.”

Now, I grant you, this music is not for me. I am, as they say, Old. And if you’re an angsty teenager, then I shall let the baby have his or her bottle. Copy those New Found Glory lyrics onto your Facebook page and swoon over those Dashboard Confessional heartthrobs to your wee heart’s content. Someday you will grow out of this phase and realize this music is poop. Hopefully, anyway.

But what galls me the most about Emo is the self-denial, the fact that barely anyone who plays or listens to it acknowledges that they are, in fact, Emo. For some reason, these deluded souls seem to think they’re part of some scene that has something to do with what we used to call punk rock. And aside from fuzzy, fast guitars and a visual look that’s only punk as Hot Topic defines it, I don’t see it. The melodies under the fuzz are usually as light and poppy as a Bieber song (they even used to have the same hair… and even Justin fucking Bieber finally ditched that stupid ‘do!).

There’s a kind of frat boy mentality to many (not all, but many) of the practitioners and fans of this music that pisses me off in the same way I can’t stand it when jocks sing along to “London Calling” on the jukebox (even if they only know the line “I live by the river!”). I hear them using terms like “aggro” and “chillin’” and talking more—way more—about their tattoos than politics, or even music. Image is paramount with these bands, moreso than any musical genre this side of hip hop.

I recently bore witness to the lead singer of an Emo band actually boasting about his punk rock cred onstage, decrying singers who use “fake rock star voices” right before launching into another song that sounded like it was straight out of the American Emo Idol Songbook in that patented, clich├ęd whining squeal that they all use. When he later said something to crowd about not being afraid to sing along because it was “a punk rock show,” I could only mutter to myself, “No. No, it’s not.”

I understand how these bands want to shy away from a term that’s so derided. After all, Mudhoney and Tad hated the term, “Grunge.” It’s a blanket with Small Pox. So I propose a new tag to replace the word “Emo,” one that I think sums up the music far better anyway: FRATTOO-POP! Frat boys with tattoos who play pop music! And it rolls of the tongue like a brand new lip piercing!

Just please, for the love of ThereIsNoGod…. Please stop calling yourself Punk. And your earlobe plug looks stupid.


Anonymous said...

I haven't laughed so hard in weeks. Thank you!

courtney said...


Bob Fingerman said...

Time for bed, old man. And no, I won't get off your lawn.

Jape said...

Speaking of London Calling — sorry, London Burning — I wonder if we'll get a new punk movement out of the current situation ... or, any rebellious youth musical movement.

(Bonus question round: and does it count if the old punks like it, or succeeds only if it pisses off old man Gustov?) :)