This whole emo playlist thing was a joke among us Echoes people (just Me, Sam, Timmy really). Then one Saturday evening, I decided to create a chronological list of essential emo songs dating all the way back from the 90s. Also, this was meant to be funny, which Timmy didn’t get. Some songs I really like aren’t even here, like Basilica by Jawbreaker or anything by Armor for Sleep. But that’s irrelevant. So enjoy this list of sad songs while experiencing the cold July weather. Or hot July weather if you’re American.
Seven – Sunny Day Real Estate
You’ve probably never heard of Sunny Day Real Estate, but this is the first hit emo single ever. Yes, emo was partying even back in the 90s. And I can’t understand a single word this guy says. And yet its essential because of how the strings seem to surround your heart with emotions. A.K.A. the feels.
Unbreak My Heart – Toni Braxton
I know you’re probably thinking, Toni Braxton is BLACK: Black people get love all the time, except from racists. But seriously, an R&B artist releasing such a song in the mid-nineties when black people all talked about “getting pussy” with lyrics such as “Un-cry these tears/I cried so many nights/Un-break my heart” shows that emo transcends race. It also shows the other side of that “getting pussy” fetish black people had back then.
El Scorcho – Weezer
Weezer is a lot like the U2 of the emo scene, except more interesting. I mean, what’s not interesting about the lead singer publicly supporting Indian Mysticism and fining band members for being late to practice? (Yes, I know, professional bands still “practice” despite “getting pussy” a lot) And this song from arguably their best album, Pinkerton, about Rivers Cuomo’s Asian fetish and how this half-Japanese girl he loves practically doesn’t know he exists is a universal theme throughout any emo person’s life. I mean seriously, change half-Japanese to half-anything and it would still be as good.
Bulls on Parade – Rage Against the Machine
Of course, no emo song list cannot be complete without Rage Against The Machine’s Bulls on Parade. This song’s chorus, “They rally around the family, with pockets full of shells” speaks of the plight of every emo couple: Introducing your lover to your parents. Of course, how can you live through the awkwardness of having the people who made you scrutinize your eyeliner-wearing significant other? There must be some sort of tribute to them, hence having “pockets full of shells”, shells being the symbolism for courage. True enough, the rousing second chorus of the song, “Come with it now/Bulls on Parade” is a call to arms for all the emo couples out there, to come with the truth to their parents and parade your bull (Or Bullette).
Goodbye Sky Harbor – Jimmy Eat World
This 16 minute track from emo heroes Jimmy Eat World from their (in my opinion) greatest album ever, Clarity, just shows the lengths of how an indie-punk band can go with their pretentiousness. Besides, this song’s verses just make you want to sing along, then later on get reincarnated in the closing.
I Believe In A Thing Called Love – The Darkness
When the new millennium kicked in, these British kids brought in a new element into emo music. This, my friends, is the anthem for all the neurotic emo kids out there. “I wanna kiss you every minute, every hour, every day” is a testament to how crazed emo kids are when in love, that they border onto stalker territory. The line “touching you, touching me, touching you, God, you’re touching me” illustrates the struggle in these kids’ minds, that even any sort of bodily contact (such as when they would awkwardly crash into each other) would turn them giddy.
Screaming Infidelities – Dashboard Confessional Songs about cheating have been done before by emo artists, notably Jimi Hendrix on Purple Haze and the Sex Pistols on Anarchy in the UK, but never has it been done so visceral as it had been done by Chris Carraba. Seriously, this guy has a smaller version of Elvis’s hair, and he talks about “avoiding the spots where we’d have to speak” like he looked like Steve Buscemi. The song shows the mindset of an emo kid in a situation where their lover is cheating on them: “Well as for now, I’m gonna hear the saddest songs and wonder how you’re making out. As for me, I wish that I was anywhere with anyone, making out.” Wait, is this song really about a kid thinking their lover is cheating on them or is it really about a kid thinking that their make-believe lover is cheating on them?
Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From the Team) – Taking Back Sunday
Aside from pioneering in having songs with really long titles (see: Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco), Taking Back Sunday entered the emo scene with this song about (wait for it) a break-up. But aside from being a song about an actual relationship gone sour, what Adam Lazzara shows in this song is the consequences of breaking up with an emo kid. Consequences, meaning them showing up with a gun, ready to shoot you if you don’t get back with them and blaming you for all the bad things that ever happened in your relationship.
The Cigarette Song – All American Rejects
“The sky is blue” is a line sung so full of emotion in this song—seriously, when did such an obvious statement carry so much meaning and feeling? Blended with such amazing acoustic guitar and electric guitar playing, the lines of the song fly. Seriously, you should listen to this song just because of how that line is sung.
A Favor House Atlantic – Coheed and Cambria
This song basically signaled that even nerds were now part of the emo movement. Coheed and Cambria’s songs are about some sort of intergalactic war that they made the story to, but within each of their songs, there is a hint—just a hint—that they have spent every night of their life alone, like most emo kids. I mean seriously, you create an entire storyline to sing about and write complex music to. Its like those World of Warcraft people.
Play Crack the Sky – Brand New
Brand New is a band that is not that well-known in Philippine music mainstream, despite them being a constant inspiration of Urbandub (Take a listen to The Quiet Things No One Knows). This song, from their greatest emo album, is the closing track. And what a closing track this is. “Calm me and let me taste the salt you breathed while you were underneath/I am the one who haunts your dreams of mountains sunk below the sea/I spoke the words but never gave a thought to what they all could mean” together with the second and third voices actually make you believe that you know what they’re singing about.
Helena – My Chemical Romance
I really don’t understand what this song is about. But the fact that, when it came out, it turned pre-pubescent kids into emo kids even before they ever experienced any form of romantic love serves as a testament to its greatness.
Sugar, We’re Going Down – Fall Out Boy
Basically, this song that entered mainstream consciousness in November of 2005 signaled to the masses that emo music was no longer contained to guys who want to wear eyeliner and lots of black clothes. What follows in the song is a recount of Pete Wentz’s (the bassist) adventure as he basically became a voyeur.
(2005-2008 was basically the top of the game for emo music)
Thunder – Boys Like Girls
I really hate Boys Like Girls. I also hate Thunder. But the very fact that my feeling-emo classmates from high school kept singing this song means that its important.
Love Like A Sunset – Phoenix
The introduction of this song is simply phenomenal. I don’t even care about what he says at the end. But that part’s good too.
Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
The title of this song from one-hit wonder Carly Rae Jepsen tells it all: The struggle of an adolescent girl waiting for her lover to call her as her phone turns cold. What could me more emo than the wait for love, that limbo between single and interested? Let’s disregard the other lyrics of the song (Notably: “And all the other boys try to chase me”) and focus on the meat of the matter, “I took no time with the fall/You gave me nothing at all”. This, my friends, is Class-A emo behavior, loving someone who has never showed you any bit of kindness nor care, even if many other people have given you their kindness and care.
So I hope you read it. Also, I hope you read it while listening to music from The Used.