Remember when emocore was all the rage? Where is it now? Has it disappeared forever or has it just taken on a new form?
Yesterday I was browsing YouTube for live videos of Sonny Moore and as it often happens with YouTube when you click the links on the right hand side, you can end up on completely unrelated topics. Long story short: After a couple of minutes of listening to his crushingly beautiful high-pitched voice I found myself looking at covers of The Used, a band that used to be great. Listening to some of their best songs like Blue and Yellow, Buried Myself Alive and Taste of Ink I was taken aback almost ten years to the days emocore was at its height.
Aside from nostalgia and blurred memories, I started thinking about what happened to the scene. Like every fad it faded away. The music industry, much like the fashion business, is made of trends that change ever so often. Audiences are more and more fickle, looking for the next hip thing to buy.
Emocore existed way long before its mainstream popularity in the mid 2000s. Major labels took something that was niche, glossed it up and marketed it as new. It seems that big business is always lagging behind the underground scene, waiting for a trend to consolidate and then exploit it. The only advantage the music industry has over indie labels is their huge and well-oiled marketing machine. Still where have all the high-tops, black nail polish and skinny jeans gone?
They’re still there; they’ve just traded them for bright, new shiny neon ones. The kids have grown up and moved on from their emo days, some still listen to a track of Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends (2002) every now and then but they’re not telling their friends. Much like Sonny Moore, they’ve gone From First To Last to Skrillex.
Electronic music has broken into the mainstream, after being popular in Europe and made fun of from Americans it has finally crossed the ocean. You can tell a genre has gone mainstream, when every artist is trying to incorporate elements of it in their songs. While emocore was never as big a trend compared to something like Hip-Hop or R&B, it certainly was the next Punk-Rock (which turned into Pop-Punk and eventually returned to Pop/Rock). Emocore could be considered a sub-genre of Rock as a bigger, more generic construct.
Why has it ultimately vanished from the mainstream? When a label takes a genre to general audiences it has the tendency to water it down, to try fitting the tastes of a mass audience. Corrupting something fans consider holy splits the scene: Certain people will continue listening to their unknown bands undisturbed, while others will also include some of the new commercial ones in their playlist. Other people (the more “hipster” oriented crowd) will turn their back on the genre completely looking for a new trend, and again others will adapt to what the market dictates without second guessing it. What’s important is that the existing bands that got big contracts, thanks to the genre’s new found popularity, are forced by the label to adapt their style i.e. cater to the general public.
Turning the genre into a something softer that doesn’t have much to do with the original idea, will anger many people who consider themselves hardcore fans. The mainstream, charts listening crowd will barely notice changes are even happening, but the scene queen certainly can’t feel so special anymore if everyone’s “doing it”. So the scene is now divided into people who support the new evolution and turn the genre has taken and people who have gone on to better and ‘bigger’ things. The label loses its core target group, the loyal fans, while new audience, the mainstream one, can be easily manipulated into liking everything as long as it appears hip and flashy. In this state of insecurity the label’s rational thing to do is look for a new trend to recommence the cycle.
Here’s the awesome clip that inspired me to write this piece.