Jul 07, 2008, 10:12AM

The Grit Is Gone

It was a tragedy when punk rock slipped away from its roots and into the mainstream. Now, in the era of MySpace and internet promotion, it looks like emo rock will follow the same path toward poppy, commercial fluff.

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Photo by JasonRogers

With the punk/emo genre becoming more immersed in the mainstream over the past few years, it has been expected to see the so-called "scene" itself changing. In the last three or four years, the atmosphere within the emo scene has morphed dramatically, and sadly, not for the better.

Without trying to sound like a jaded older fan of music that's now just as popular with early middle school girls as Hanna Montana, I'd like to take a moment to map out what's happened recently and why nothing good ha s come of it.

In the early years of this millennium, pop punk and emo were just smoldering below the awareness of the mainstream public. There were a few acts that "made it big" in those years like Blink 182, Dashboard Confessional and New Found Glory, but most of the bands survived by touring their rears off and making it onto solid indie labels. Sometimes smaller acts blipped on the mainstream radar with modest hits (think Midtown, Thursday or Saves The Day). In those days, there didn't seem to be much pressure on bands to have a "look" or create a persona that could attract fans. Everyone - the fans, the bands, the crews - all wore T shirts and played their music.

But since 2005, about the time that acts like Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and Panic At The Disco became mainstream sensations, the dynamics have been altered. I think there are a few major factors of this mutation, but the primary criminal must be the World Wide Web.

  • I'm not a fan of emo by any means, but this might be the least surprising thing I've heard all day. Besides the obvious point that this happens to every genre of music, if a genre is rooted in the existential angst of teenagers it's inherently going to be susceptible to corporate manipulation. That's the thing about being a teenager: most of it sucks, you're too dumb to tell the difference between style and substance, and you're too inarticulate to express any mature emotions. Why anybody would hold something like emo music to such a high standard of integrity in beyond me.

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  • While I truly appreciate the support Dan, perhaps I should clarify my point a little bit. First, let me reveal that, contrary to my profile, I am not actually 231 years old. I am, however, no longer a teenager. Correct me if I'm wrong, Dan, but you seem to still be in that demographic. One could look at your posted age as evidence, or one could look at the last sentence of your comment. It is precisely the teenager's bloated sense of self that causes them to lament against an abstracted "people" who won't listen, or have as a hobby trying to explain to another teenager why their identity doesn't make sense. We can march in solidarity all day long when it comes to the gossamer-thin substance of emo, but I certainly could care less whether anyone chooses to like it or not. You seem to take it as a personal insult that other people out there identify with emo music. That kind of afflicted egoism is actually sort of the essence of being a teenager, something that emo cleverly uses to sell itself, and something that no one is immune to in their youth, regardless of their musical taste. I hope at some point you stop trying to convince emo kids they suck, because only then will you really be distinct from them.

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