Could we be on the cusp of an emo revival?

There was a time in the mid-00’s when alt-rock was almost nothing but emo. What started as an intense form of hardcore punk in the DC area back in the 80s had evolved into a post-9/11 cry for help.

If you were around back then, you’ll remember those years as a time of great confusion. George W. Bush, reviled by many for stealing the 2000 election from Al Gore, created even more distrust in government. The Twin Towers attack brought the boom times of the late 90s/early 00’s to an abrupt end, taking the happy pop of the era (think Britney, Backstreet, ‘NSYNC, etc.) down with it. The falsehoods of weapons of mass destruction led to neverending wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As Generation Y–the Millennial generation–came of age musically, many gravitated towards emo, with its messages of unhappiness, loneliness, self-absorption, and alienation. By 2005, everything seemed emo: My Chemical Romance, Dashboard Confessional, Jimmy Eat World, Panic! At the Disco, and Bright Eyes were everywhere while just about every song that soundtracked The OC came from some emo band.

Funny how 2018 is starting to feel a lot like 2003.

Not only is today’s network TV starting to look a lot like it did 15-20 years ago (reboots of Will & Grace, Roseanne, and Murphy Brown are with us), but the fear, uncertainty, and doubt created by the Trump administration (including its foreign policy or lack thereof) is starting to feel a lot like the dark days of George W. Mean Girls, a rite of passage movie for so many, is now a Broadway musical. Meanwhile, there’s a huge cohort of young people–Generation Z, those born from the middle 90s to the middle oughts–are in a position to change the culture.

We’re already seeing a shift in the mood of music. Study after study shows that pop is getting both slower and sadder. Dashboard Confessional is back with their first album in nine years. Jimmy Eat World has a new record planned after a big summer tour. Thirty Seconds to Mars is in the middle of a great run.

Gen Z has a lot to be concerned about, too. Gun violence. #MeToo and #TimesUp. LGBTQ issues. Racism. The Trumpocracy.

It might not be that much of a leap before Gen Z grabs guitars and starts wailing about their fears just like their older brothers and sisters did.



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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