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Australian news site tries to kill emo, fails

US band  My Chemical Romance (from L to R) wit...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Another day, another journalist seeks to kill a genre of music.

Today’s suspect is news.com.au‘s Neala Johnson. The weapon – My Chemical Romance. What got the axe? Emo, of course:

NO MORE angst. No more whingeing. No more playing the victim. When My Chemical Romance re-emerge in early 2010 with their fourth album, any trace of “woe is me and it’s all your fault” will be replaced by such self-aware and self-sufficient themes as “strength” and “self-preservation”.

Yup, emo is dead. Long live My Chemical Romance.

Gasp! News.com.au and My Chem said so, so it must be true.

Right?

Hardly. First, while the article begins with a bullet point that says “Emo is dead, band declares,” there is hardly a single quote by Gerard Way in the article that says “emo is dead.” Period. Way makes references to the problems that fans of mainstream emo have encountered over the last few years, be it facing violence in Mexico or the general misunderstandings that emo culture is akin to a suicide cult, but he himself hardly mentions a “death of emo.” Perhaps of the attitude people have towards what they interpret emo to be, but not of the genre itself.

Right next to hip-hop, emo is the one genre of music that people have been trying to kill off for years and/or pass off as dead. And yet, the genre persists to this day just as much as the wild misinterpretations and misappropriations of the word flourish with any casual reference to Twilight or moody teenagers. Though My Chemical Romance certainly ushered in a period of emo in its hair metal phase and popularized an image of emo as depressed-looking teenagers caked in makeup and cloaked in black, their every moves and motives don’t define a genre that’s existed for nearly a quarter of a century. Though they’ve helped define what a majority of people consider to be emo at a given period of this decade, they did not create emo, nor will they destroy it.

Andy Greenwald attempted something similar to what Johnson did in the My Chem. piece, which is tie a specific artist to the life and death of a genre, more specifically emo. Greenwald’s book, Nothing Feels Good, focused a large portion of its might on one artist – Dashboard Confessional. Greenwald placed all the prose he could muster about emo squarely on Chris Carrabba’s shoulders, and ended the book by saying emo was a phase Carrabba would soon grow out of. And he wrote this all before Dashboard’s peak in popularity, A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar was released.

Sure, Dashboard defined emo in the earlier part of the decade, but Carrabba didn’t define the genre as a whole, and it’s continued to grow. My Chemical Romance has been out of “the game” for a few years, and that’s been more than enough time for groups like Brand New to steal their thunder and re-configure the genre to their own liking. Which was always a large part of the original appeal of emo: its reflection of the individual listener’s perspective and tastes. And if everyone were to conform to the standards of emo as written by My Chemical Romance… well, then I’d be more than happy to put that niche genre to rest.

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