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A Will Cleveland Pop-Ed: The Rebirth of Emo (And What Does This Have to Do with Drake?)


The following is the exact question that I sent into a baseball podcast. This baseball-focused podcast was a conversation between two musicians that happen to love baseball. The gentlemen behind Productive Outs deliver a Prodcast each week. It's one of the true highlights of my week. They gab about baseball, but they also welcome questions on life and music. This is the question that had been gnawing at me for the past few months:

I've been reading a lot about the so-called re-birth or renaissance of emo music. As a person who grew up with bands like Cap'n Jazz and the Get-Up Kids, this oddly excites me. But to me, it doesn't feel like a revival. The music was always there. Critics are just classifying it differently now. What are your feelings on the this so-called movement?

The interest in the question was sparked by a slew of music blogs that tackled the topic, heralding a rebirth or a renaissance of the genre. Both Pitchfork and Stereogum have written about this supposed revival. Pitchfork highlighted the amazingly comprehensive 78-song sampler from Massachusetts-based Topshelf Records. Even if you don't like emo, I highly recommend checking out the sampler. You can download it for the price of free. Stereogum took it a step further. The site, which is famous for its "premature evaluations," provided a 12-band list.

(Aside: I love the first comment on the Stereogum article: "But what does this have to do with Drake?" Because really, that should be the question that governs all of our musical leanings. And then we can answer that seemingly bullshit question with that fact that Drake is emo. Duh.)

I think all of these articles are pure bullshit. They are invented by blogs seeking to drive eyeballs to the site. It creates conversation, but it's a false conversation. It doesn't need to happen, because the music never went anywhere. Bands like Brand New (yay!), Dashboard Confessional (dry heave), Saves the Day (fuck yeah!) and the Get-Up Kids (chyea buddy!) have either released new music and have reunited and toured since the supposed death of the genre over 10 years ago. Brand New is consistently overlooked and dismissed, but The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me is an instant classic. The genre never died. It takes many different forms and can occupy many different spheres of influence. The common thread remains plaintive emotive lyrics.

My renewed interest in the "genre" was sparked by a German friend who pointed me in the direction of The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die. (Yes, that is the true name of the band.) The Connecticut emo outfit straddles so many completely dissimilar genres that it would be impossible for me to categorize them all. But you can definitely hear some Cave In influences and that is always a wonderful thing in my book. TWIABP’s Wherever, If Ever is a fucking fantastic album, sure to find its way onto year-end top 20 list.

Before my rediscovery of emo, I had a long, storied history with the genre. I initially discovered the music of bands like Saves the Day, Jimmy Eat World, The Promise Ring and The Get-Up Kids during my lost high school years. I was immediately drawn to the honesty and the outpouring of emotion. Emo fit right in with my unhealthy obsession with third-wave ska. (I am man enough to admit that I have driven hundreds of miles for a good ska bill.) My rediscovery lined up nearly perfectly with the state of mind I now find myself in. I initially found the music when I was a confused teenager, and now I am an equally confused adult, staring at 30 (which continues to scare me shitless). The emotion is timeless. 

But what does this have to do with Drake? Also, Hawthorne Heights still sucks.

Make sure to stay tuned for the second part of my emo overview next week in which I will beat you over the head with recommendations, wit, and numerous videos.

Contact Will Cleveland on Twitter at @ClevelandROC.
A Will Cleveland Pop-Ed: The Rebirth of Emo (And What Does This Have to Do with Drake?) Reviewed by Will Cleveland on 11/07/2013 Rating: 5

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