National Emo Day
annually on December 19th (since 2009)
National Emo Day is celebrated by emos—or emo kids—as well as by those who aren't emo. The day honors and celebrates emo culture and the role emo music has played in mainstream music, both in the past and the present. Emo music is listened to, emo dress is donned, and "emo nights" are attended.
Emo is a subculture defined by fashion and music. Emo clothing and fashion are exemplified with tight band T-shirts, tight and skinny jeans or pants, jeweled or studded belts, piercings, the color black, and eyeliner. Hair may be dyed black or a bright color, and be cut to showcase swoops and bangs.
Emo lyrics regularly focus on emotions, sensitivity, social alienation, introversion, angst, and misanthropy, and may be confessional. Because of the lyrical association with depression and self-harm, not all emo bands embrace the emo label. Emo is considered post-hardcore, a genre that sprouted out of hardcore punk. It is sometimes considered a subgenre of indie rock, alternative rock, pop punk, and punk rock. The music is known for having dynamic shifts—from soft to loud and back again—and for having unorthodox song structures and complex guitar work.
Emo came out of Washington, D.C.'s hardcore punk scene in the 1980s, where it was dubbed "emotional hardcore" or "emocore." Rites of Spring, a D.C. punk rock band, released their sole album in 1985, and are often cited as the first emo band. Another D.C. band was Embrace, who came after and were inspired by Rites of Spring. (Members of both bands would later form the post-hardcore band Fugazi.) The D.C. proto-emo bands broke up after a few years, but the music spread around the country, influencing those starting new bands.
In the early and mid-1990s, bands in the alternative rock, indie rock, and punk rock genres adopted emo elements, and emo became a subgenre of these genres. Bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Jawbreaker, Jimmy Eat World, Mineral, and Cap'n Jazz were at the forefront. The Midwest emo scene of the mid-1990s was led by Braid, The Promise Ring, and The Get Up Kids. Screamo is a more aggressive form of emo music with screamed vocals. Screamo started in the 1990s with bands like Heroin and Antioch Arrow and became mainstream in the 2000s with bands like Hawthorne Heights, Thursday, Alexisonfire, The Used, and Underoath.
The commercial success of the grunge band Nirvana helped bring punk and emo bands into the mainstream. Alternative rock bands appeared marketable and labels began signing them. Punk bands like Green Day and The Offspring were signed in the mid-1990s. In the early 2000s, emo bands Jimmy Eat World and Dashboard Confessional were signed to major labors, and emo bands started achieving mainstream success. Bands like Taking Back Sunday and Panic! at the Disco followed, and then came pop-emo bands like My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy, who had continued success throughout the 2000s.
The popularity of emo waned by the 2010s. Prominent emo bands broke up or shifted away from emo sounds. Although, underground emo bands continued to play. In the late 2010s, emo rap went mainstream with artists like Lil Peep, XXXTenacion, and Juice Wrld. The popularity of emo in mainstream culture ebbs and flows, but emo is forever. "Emo nights," where emo music is played and people dress up as emos, have become popular, and are sometimes held on National Emo Day, the holiday celebrated today!
How to Observe National Emo Day
Be your emo self or be emo for the day!
- Dress like an emo. Put on some tight pants and a band T-shirt. Dye your hair black and put on some eyeliner. Put on a studded belt and pierce your nose. Perhaps you can find some emo swag at Hot Topic.
- Attend an emo night.
- Watch a film such as Bastards of Young or The Last Scene.
- Read a book about emo such as Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo, From the Basement: A History of Emo Music and How It Changed Society, or Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture.
Above all, listen to some notable emo albums:
- Braid—Frame & Canvas.
- Cap'n Jazz—Shmap'n Shmazz.
- Dashboard Confessional—The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most, A Mark, A Mission, a Brand, a Scar, and Dusk and Summer.
- Fall Out Boy—From Under the Cork Tree.
- Further Seems Forever—The Moon is Down.
- The Get Up Kids—Something to Write Home About.
- Jawbreaker—24 Hour Revenge Therapy and Dear You.
- Jimmy Eat World—Static Prevails, Clarity, and Bleed American.
- The Juliana Theory—Understand This Is a Dream and Emotion is Dead.
- Mineral—The Power of Failing and EndSerenading.
- My Chemical Romance—Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and The Black Parade.
- Panic! At the Disco—A Fever You Can't Sweat Out.
- The Promise Ring—Nothing Feels Good.
- Rites of Spring—Rites of Spring.
- Saves the Day—Through Being Cool and Stay What You Are.
- Senses Fail—Let It Enfold You.
- Sunny Day Real Estate—Diary.
- Taking Back Sunday— Tell All Your Friends, Where You Want to Be, and Louder Now.
- Texas is the Reason—Do You Know Who You Are?
- Thursday—Full Collapse and War All The Time.
- The Used—The Used and In Love and Death.
- Underoath—They're Only Chasing Safety and Define the Great Line.
- The Emo Diaries compilation.