Did you rock skinny jeans, tight T-shirts, and studded belts? How about jet-black hair and long bangs? For many people, the word “emo” describes a sad teenager who dresses in a very deliberate way. But the emo subculture has a long, storied history that reaches back to the 1980s and continues to resonate today. On National Emo Day, we recognize the rich complexities of the emo movement and gain a greater appreciation of its place in popular music. Weezer anyone?
National Emo Day timeline
Emo's mainstream breakthrough
This year saw huge sales for Jimmy Eat World and Weezer albums — causing Spin magazine to declare it "the year of emo."
Weezer's sophomore album received generally negative reviews, but young kids just getting into alternative music turned out in big numbers. The album helped establish the emo "look" and aesthetic.
Rites of Spring
This hardcore punk band released their only album, which later emo artists would cite as an important influence.
National Emo Day Activities
Listen to some emo
Fall Out Boy. My Chemical Romance. The Used. Take a shuffle through what emo has to offer. You may be surprised by what you find!
Raid your closet, put on your emo gear
We're guessing you went through a bit of an emo phase, and you might still have some tight black T-shirts and white belts somewhere. Throw them on and ignore the haters!
Hug an emo kid
Seriously, they look so sad. Show them some love.
4 Popular Trends Emos Started
The default millennial piercing option was first adopted by — you guessed it — the emo community.
Back when you couldn't see the point in getting a Facebook page, emos were tricking out their Myspaces with glitter, animations, and their favorite songs on autoplay.
Emos pioneered the art of self-photography, before phones even had a selfie camera!
The official '00s pants style for both men and women started in the emo community first!
Why We Love National Emo Day
Emo music's full of variety
That's part of the fun, of course! From harsh D.C. emo to plaintive Midwestern emo, to emo pop, emo rap, and screamo, there's emo for every taste!
Emo fashion looks good on everybody
Part of the reason emo fashion caught on is that it's hard to look bad in it! Slimming black shirts, skinny jeans, retro sneakers — just go easy on the piercings!
Emo is heartfelt
Many proper adults find emo self-indulgent and depressing, but for a young person struggling with a lot of volatile new emotions, emo's honesty, earnestness, and willingness to tackle tough subjects are a breath of fresh air in an otherwise sterile pop landscape.