Go to last.fm and search for tag emo and Last.fm will happily show you that the top emo bands are Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Jimmy Eat World, Brand New, Death Cab for Cutie and Taking Back Sunday. Pretty easy right? Next, go to the Wikipedia and look at the List of Emo Artists - they have a list of 75 or so bands that have 'been referred to as, or had their music described as emo'. Again, that seems to be pretty straightforward. But emo is not so simple. Just take a look at the Wiki discussion page for the list of emo artists - you'll find a debate as vigorous and vitriolic as the great emacs vs. vi debate of the 80s, the paper vs. plastic debate of the 90s and the Gervais vs. Carell debate of 00s all put together.

Some excerpts:

  • Emo is chaotic music. Emo is a form of hardcore punk. Emo is closely related to screamo. Pop rock is not. Who started this whole emo thing? Rites of Spring. Neon White, go listen to Rites of Spring. Tell me the difference between them and Panic! At the Disco. They just don't sound anything alike. I like all music, and pop rock, but I have enough sense to know that their is a huge line between emo, and mainstream music. Therefore, Wikipedia itself, is unreliable
  • hm.... im a bit puzzled here... the article is named "list of emo band", yet there's not a single emo band in the entire list....
  • My Chemical Romance is not emo. Alexisonfire is not emo, Fall Out Boy? just posers. Real emo music is emocore emo violence, screamo, emopunk, indie/emorock
  • all Out Boy May not be emo but they are not possers
  • THREE DAYS GRACE not!!!! emo!!! they are POST GRUNGE!!!!

And the discussion just goes on and on. People can't agree what emo is.

Photo (CC) by Feel the Fever.


Indeed. And it's not just that emo is a tricky case. All genres have similarly fluid edges - even something as seemingly innocuous as Country. And to that the tendency of genres to drift over time, and it's enough to make one despair of ever doing anything with genre except using it as a personal tag. And therein is the beauty of capturing such a basically human concept as categories.

Posted by Wendell on January 09, 2009 at 08:38 PM EST #

Any classification for any current band is hard as band tend to be defined by their fan as much as by their music. I think it would make much more sense to attribute a genre on a per track basis and give the band a genre that would reflect their predominant type of music.

Or am I already too old to understand teenagers? :p

Posted by tourist.tam on January 09, 2009 at 09:37 PM EST #

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Posted by fall out boy on January 10, 2009 at 12:16 AM EST #

trying to categorize music is a failed endeavour. music is always in motion, artist take inspiration from different sources and happily combine them. best example is probably electro-jazz. sounds like electro with jazz, right? but sometimes it's more jazz than electro which leads to jazz-electro? and what about those bands that dance between those twos?

the above only works if two listeners agree on the typology. whenever i see the genre "world music" i silently laugh because what's "world music" in my store might be "chanson", "schlager" or whatever somewhere else.

see http://www.csl.sony.fr/publications/item/?reference=pachet%3A02c for a more consistent take on genre and classifications.

Posted by adrian on January 17, 2009 at 05:10 AM EST #

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