How the Term “Emo” Discredits Amazing Bands

by Noelle Matonis

When people think of the word “emo,” the first things that usually come to mind are teenagers with black eyeliner, a certain choppy hairstyle, and all black clothes. Unfortunately, much too often, this stereotypical imagery has deterred people from listening to bands that are labeled as “emo.” Many people think that just because the music is labeled as this, it’s probably “cringey,” and won’t even give it a chance. This was the case with me and My Chemical Romance. So often, I’d heard the term “emo” being used negatively. Because MCR has been labeled as an emo band, I didn’t give them a chance until very recently.

I think the spark that started my obsession with them was when MCR announced a reunion tour on Halloween in 2019. Everyone was so shocked that they were going to reunite for a show in California six years after the band broke up. This was the first thing that got the ball rolling for me, because one of the reasons I was hesitant to get into them was that they had broken up and weren’t making any new music. I realize it was silly of me to think this way, but I was younger back then. MCR was releasing cryptic videos online to tease their reunion tour which got me really interested. I watched parts of the livestreams made by some of the lucky fans who were able to go to the concert.

In the spring of 2020, I was in my backyard listening to music on Spotify. Since I don’t have Spotify Premium, the playlist was shuffled with songs I knew and loved, and ones I hadn’t listened to before. The next song that came on was “Na Na Na” from MCR’s album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (or simply shortened to Danger Days). Previously, I had been skipping the song because of my preconceived notions that society had brought upon me that emo was “cringey.” But this time, I decided to give it a chance because I knew that MCR had come back, and I was more curious about them at that point. I loved the song, even though at the time, I was reluctant to admit it.

As time went on, I decided to give the show, The Umbrella Academy, a try. If you didn’t know, Gerard Way, the lead singer of MCR, wrote the The Umbrella Academy comics from which the Netflix show is adapted. I loved the show as well, which made me even more curious about the band!

This is when I started listening to the whole Danger Days album. I listened to this one first, because it seemed like the least “emo” one out of all of them. I was still a tiny bit prejudiced at that point, but that prejudice quickly faded. Long story short, from that point on, I was obsessed with them. I listened to all their songs, watched all their music videos, and countless videos and interviews of them, etc.

Once I gave their other albums a chance (the ones that some people consider more “emo”), I realized that they weren’t at all the concept I had in my head of what emo was. They’re rock, punk, and alternative, all genres that I love. Not only that, but the band also changed my life for the better. By watching interviews of the band members, I was truly inspired by them in so many ways. They inspired me to keep going in difficult times, and they inspired me to be more creative by drawing more and writing more stories. I was even inspired by other fans of MCR with their fan art. Some fans even make their own comics, and there are ones that are professional looking that you can buy. I’ve also made friends from the community of fans.

So, in the words of another amazing band (Twenty One Pilots), “don’t believe the hype.” Whether the hype is something negative or positive, you should always give things a chance and see for yourself whether you like it or not. When you do this, so many opportunities can open up, and your life could be changed forever.