Few genres can lay claim to dividing opinion quite like emo. There’s rarely any middle ground – you’re either all in or all out. Around the turn of the millennium, artists like Jimmy Eat World and Dashboard Confessional paved the way for a fully-fledged mainstream breakthrough, thanks to their poppier interpretations of a genre that had long-laid dormant since its woollier origins in post-hardcore throughout Midwest American suburbs in the 1980s.
By 2006, what was formerly bubbling under finally exploded into worldwide public consciousness, spearheaded by the undeniable charisma and collective talents of its main players. As each of their career trajectories rose rapidly skywards, artists such as My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco and Paramore admittedly shared few, if any, real surface similarities. But students of the Slayer way these bands were not. Even if no-one could quite agree on what did or didn’t constitute ‘emo’, most rock fans recognised it when they saw and heard it, despite the bands themselves often appearing unwilling to become fully paid-up members of the club.
But if ever a period of time represented the peak of this most nebulous of genres’ powers, it was 2006. It was this 12-month stretch that solidified the superstar status that many of today’s still-prominent rock figures enjoy, shifting the cultural dial within alternative music forever.
Eyeliner, floppy fringes, studded belts and MySpace were all the rage. Copycat artists surfaced in their droves. All of a sudden, singing songs about your feelings was where it was at. And for a while, emo felt like the most important thing in the world, even if it did also face a ferocious backlash from the tabloid press and close-minded rock gatekeepers alike. Here, then, we take a trip back in time, to when emo ruled the world…