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Stunning advances in angst management

January 8th, 2009 No comments

Gloom asks me one day, what’s this emo thing? Is it like goth somehow? It’s an interesting question and of course he asks me for my encyclopedic knowledge of all things pop culture.

Yeah, anyway.

It turns out I happen to have a bit of a soft spot for the emo. Without getting too sociological, emo is emotional music in genres that typically aren’t about emotions. So, pop music has been singing about love and heartbreak for, well ever. Metal, on the other hand is ripe for it.

Musically most emo bands I’ve heard are really straight ahead rock or pop-punk bands. And while I still bend a knee at the Korn school of pissed off guitars, I think it’s pretty dang cool that rock now branches past pure, clean rage. For one example, I’ve yet to hear an Angels & Airwaves song I didn’t like. (Does that mean I have their album? Heavens, no. I’m not that kind of fan. Note to self: hit iTunes).

Of course, this only answers half the question. Rock is as much, if not more than about attitude than ability. After all, Nirvana was just a hard rock band, right? Wrong, of course. Nirvana destroyed middle of the road and hair metal by wearing flannel shirts and being surly more than their musical stylings (and we Gen Xers are eternally grateful). But musically, they sure weren’t Sonic Youth.

So, what’s up with the faggy emo boys? Well, flannel is so 90’s. But seriously, I remember the first time a record touched me on the shoulder and said my name. It was the title track off How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today? by Suicidal Tendencies. Then it was One and Fade To Black by Metallica. And then Unsung by Helmet. I got it, and it got me. I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t happy and it was okay to be angry about it.

Okay, but not particularly constructive. This music is about emotions, so they act all sensitive. Is that really all that bad? Are rubber bracelets, swept hair and overwrought lyrics a better outlet than flannel and anger? I hope so, although I’m not so sure about eye liner. Anyway, maybe it’s a little Peter Pan of me, but My Chemical Romance is pretty fun to listen to. Even though I’m not dyeing my hair black.

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