Remember the years when obscuring your vision with your hair was fashion? Or when fishnet arm sleeves were stylish? Oddly patterned wrist sweatbands? Or even when your wardrobe was two extremes: black and neon colors? Remember when no one understood you and when you were the only person on the Earth who was capable of feeling the deepest sadness imaginable?
Hello, I write to you as a former emo kid. Like many other emotionally-raw middle school children, I, too, spent late night evenings crying my eyes out to blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World and went to bed with a moist pillow. It was just something you did, man. Parents didn’t understand you—no one but your friends and music, man.
However, upon “growing up,” those songs took a backseat—those worn-out mix CDs now collecting dust on your shelves next to the stereo. Now you’re some perplexed indie kid, too good for the emo scene you once cherished with all of your heart.
Yet, when you hear the songs on some off-chance, you can’t help singing along (albeit, in private).
1. “Welcome To My Life” by Simple Plan, off of their album, Still Not Getting Any.
“No / You don’t know what it’s like / When nothing feels right inside,” no, they don’t, Pierre Bouvier! You likely played this song when mom or dad refused to take you to the mall the eighth time this week. Hot Topic doesn’t change its wares that frequently.
2. “Stolen” by Dashboard Confessional, off of their record, Dusk And Summer.
This was the song that started many middle school aged children’s metamorphosis into a beautiful emo kid. In your black long-sleeved shirt underneath your black short-sleeved shirt, you craved sunny Californian shores in your tight black skinny jeans.
You can hear the emotion dripping off of his voice, guys! He’s a true musician! This is real music! Not any of that top-100 bull.
3. “Dark Blue” by Jack’s Mannequin, off of their album, Everything In Motion.
The opening piano will forever be the most haunting, yet happiest sound I have ever heard. I texted my friend Michael with the opening lyric and he immediately fired back with the next one. This song had that profound of an effect on people, guys.
When your awkward self was wrought with social overwhelm at some kid’s birthday party, you certainly felt “alone in a crowded room,” especially when your crush was ignoring you for the 700th time today (even though you’ve never spoken to this individual before).
Bonus emo points for being put into an ambulance with your beloved. THE IMAGERY! MY POOR EMO HEART.
4. “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows” by Brand New, off of their record, Deja Entendu.
I feel obligated in putting a Long Island band on this list because my homeland is notorious for its pop-punk/emo scene for some reason.
Yeah, those “quiet things that no one ever knows,” you know, except for you. You’re really in-tune with your feelings. “Your veil was ruined in the rain,” GOD EVEN THEIR WEDDING WAS RUINED. IS THERE NO SOLACE TO MY PAIN?
You know an emo song means business when there is screaming somewhere in it. This guy is blowing out his own vocal chords to convey the purest and rawest form of his emotion to his fans. What a guy.
5. “It Ends Tonight” by The All-American Rejects, off of their album, Move Along.
Self-proclaimed rejects, their album, Move Along, is a timeless classic for post-emo kids everywhere. You likely used this song to ease the pain in your tender, emo heart when your even more emo boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with you.
You connected with this band because you, too, were a reject. Lovely.
6. “I Miss You” by blink-182, off of their eponymous 2003 record.
Dude, I still cry to this song.
The gravely tone of Mark Hoppus’ voice in the beginning and the heartbreaking croon of Tom DeLonge? Don’t even get me started on the string arrangement. “Don’t waste your time on me / You’re already / The voice inside my head”? Tom DeLonge—you get me. You understand my deepest sadness imaginable with that lip ring.
Excuse me, I need to go find my neon hair extensions and ripped jeans.
7. “Hear You Me” by Jimmy Eat World, off of their record, Bleed American.
Remember how this song played when the drought ended in A Cinderella Story and then Hillary Duff and Chad Michael Murray kissed? I do.
Even when this guy is heartbroken beyond belief, he or she is thanking his ex-lover repeatedly throughout the song. He or she is holding it together while, you, precious emo child, are not. With a voice that is close to a whisper on record, the emotional rollercoaster that is “Hear You Me” does not let up for a second.
8. “Only One” by Yellowcard, off of their album, Ocean Avenue.
Quintessential pop-punk/emo, guys. It’s not an emo playlist without Yellowcard.
Yes, they do have more songs than solely “Ocean Avenue.” Playing strongly on the theme of “no one understands me,” Yellowcard comes barreling in screaming with the lyric of “no one gets me like you do!” Must I reiterate that only the purest emotion comes through when you scream the lyric?
“THERE’S JUST NO ONE / NO ONE LIKE YOU / YOU ARE MY ONLY ONE!!!”
9. “Misery Business” by Paramore, off of their record, RIOT!
When you were feeling extremely sassy towards the universe, you turned on this song and jumped around your room in your tight pants and sang along with every word. It was likely that this song introduced you to the world of “harder” rock. You likely wanted to cut and dye your hair to copy Hayley Williams during your emo years—I know I did.
“She’s got it out for me / But I wear the biggest smile,” take that preps!
10. “Hero/Heroine” by Boys Like Girls, off of their eponymous debut.
Boys Like Girls were never outwardly emo—more like a watered down version of the genre. Either way, “Hero/Heroine” was a track that smashed your emo heart into a million pieces. When your dark heart couldn’t handle the sensation of requited love, you went “running and screaming,” crying that your significant other’s love was “the sweetest sin.”
Everyone claims to love as a teenager is the best sensation, but if emo music tells us anything—you don’t feel emotions as raw as you do unless you’re an emo kid. Love like an emo kid.
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