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History of Emo Music

Emo music started in the early 80s in Washington DC with a foundation in punk rock. Although no one can really track the exact origins of the term, the development of its style can be noted. It is around this time, Ian McKaye started to write songs that focused more on the personal self as opposed to the community and political causes (think 60s and 70s anti-war/anti-establishment songs). The music became introspective. Then came Rites of Spring in 1984. They would go even further with introspection in terms of poetic lyrics about a whole range of emotions such as romance, nostalgia, and desperation. The musicians hated the word emo as it started coming out around this time, and to this day, many musicians considered emo by majority such as My Chemical Romance still do not like being called emo.

In the 90s, Sunny Day Real Estate, which started in Seattle of 92 became very influential in terms of the emo movement. They and other influential bands began to build intimate and loyal followings on a much greater level than before with their emotional music and performances. This set the stage for emo to begin coming into mainstream media. Also around this time, bands such as Jawbreaker and Fugazi began to infuse elements from indie rock. Some other bands around this time such as The Promise Ring added variety to emo music by making giving it a softer edge, more popish, less cynical, and even more romantic.

Around the late 90s and into the 2000s, big record companies wanted in on emo. But the bands often broke up before they got anywhere mainstream. They were not used to working in tight knit groups and not so much pressure. You could say they were too K emotional to handle it? But in 1997, emo compilations of unsigned bands were released by a record company. Included were such acts as Jimmy Eat World, which later went on to sign with Dreamworks Records to be one of the first emo bands to go mainstream and even go platinum. Eventually many more bands would follow suit and make emo music a profitable business for record companies. Bands like Save The Day were even performing with Blink 182. This trend continued until Emo began to go beyond music and also become a fashion statement and the cultural scene it is today.

For more history on emo, please check out the Emo History article.
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