Emo is a form of rock music, currently usually considered a sub-genre of alternative or "indie" rock. It is thought that the term emo derived from the fact that, on occasion, members of a band would become spontaneously and strongly emotional during performances, giving rise to the music term 'Emotional Hardcore'. Emerging in the mid-to-late 1980s as a distinctive form of Hardcore punk rock, the genre has recently gained popularity thanks to bands such as: Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, Coheed and Cambria, Brand New, and many others.
In 1983, the DC punk scene began to lose popularity and many of the bands of the era had started to break up. In 1984, the band Husker Dü began the slow start of the early emo movement with the release of their album, Zen Arcade. The album featured melodic songwriting, intense vocals, and punk style guitars. Soon afterward, bands such as Rites Of Spring and Embrace began to perfect the "DC Sound" with their music. Later on, this style of music begins to be referred to as "emo-core".
In 1997, several new bands inspired by the "emo-core" bands of a few years before began to emerge in several areas around North America. These bands added their own unique sound to the genre, including softer and sometimes whispered vocals, louder guitars, screaming vocals, and the most recognizable element of the genre, octave chords. The vocal style for this genre could range from normal singing, to screaming and even crying at some parts.
Much of the lyrics for this genre were somewhat abstract poetry which were often inaudible because of the volume of the instruments. When playing live, many bands would keep their backs to the audience while playing the quiet parts and would jump around and knock things over and scream at the top of their lungs during the loud parts.
There was almost no commercialism at all for this genre as most bands did not make T-shirts and only sold records at their shows.
Most "emo" bands would only be around for a short time. Many bands only released their first records posthumously.
In this decade, with the rise in popularity of such bands as Fall Out Boy. Panic! at the Disco, and My Chemical Romance, emo has become quite mainstream, getting as much radio play (if not more so) than hip-hop and "bubblegum" pop.
Noteworthy Early Bands
"Emo" played harder, faster and louder beginning in the early 1990s with bands such as Mohinder, Heroin, and Swing Kids. This can be seen as both a return to the original connotations of Emo, and an extension upon current Emo music trends.
Emo as a sub-culture
Recently, the term "Emo" has been used to describe people who wear dark clothing, makeup, use eye-liner, and wear tight pants. This modern stereotype also mentions that "emos" are emotional, suicidal, and often associated with borderline personality disorder. Although originally considered to be an extremely rude and false term, modern society has slowly accepted "emo" term to describe such people.