Best of 2016 Playlist

March 31, 2016

Top 10 Emo Throwback Songs

The angst, the guy-liner, the ripped jeans, and over dyed hair, ya that's pretty much emo in a nutshell. The genre gets a bad rep from the media. Underneath all the black, we all know its really just a bunch of misunderstood teenagers complaining to the world. But we still love it. Everyone went through that phase of rebellion, to varying extents. 

Depending on your definition of "emo", you may find some songs on this list, and others not. So if you think we missed one, let us know in the comments. To see our Honorable Mentions please go to our Top 10/Quick Picks page. Any song is fair game as long as it's at least 5 years old. 
"Ya, we all do..."
10. "If I'm James Dean, You're Aubrey Hepburn" Sleeping with Sirens

The most recent song released, this is one of the band's signature songs. Alongside "If You Can't Hang" and "Stomach Tied in Knots", Sleeping with Sirens ushered in a new wave of emo at the turn of the decade. Originally released and recorded for the band's 2009 demo, It then became the second single for SWS' debut album, "With Ears to See and Eyes to Hear". All the hallmarks of 00s emo, post-hardcore, but with some new era influences. The band brought more unclean vocals and added a heavier tone to their music, which is now frequently duplicated in other bands. The beginning verse, "Stay for tonight. If you want to, I can show you. What my dreams are made of. As I'm dreaming of your face," is about as emo as something can get. But we enjoy it, even thought it practically oozes cheese. 

9. "Ohio Is For Lovers"Hawthorne Heights

Another often forgotten emo/post-harcore band from the early years. Hawthorne Heights released their debut album "The Silence in Black and White" back in 2004, preceded by this iconic track. Frontman JD Woodruff has stated the song is about leaving a girlfriend in the titular Ohio. But to many fans, it's not just the band's signature song, it's also been regarded as the "Emo Anthem", due to the nature of the lyrics. Which are stereotypically emo, thought written during a time when "emo" was still evolving into what it is today. The chorus of the song pumps life into an otherwise slow song. And that's what a lot of the songs of this genre were back in the 00s. Slow methodic verses, with high powered choruses. Recipe for success, which time has turned into the blueprint for the genre. 

8. "Face Down" - Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Everyone remembers this one. It peaked at #24 on the Billboard Hot 100. Propelled by the driving and catchy chorus, and the song's theme of domestic abuse. The steady drumbeat opens the song, before the guitars and vocals bring us into the verse. The song thrives on the upbeat nature of the song, juxtaposed to the serious and somewhat depressing lyrics. The band could have gone the alternate route, which would be to write a ballad. But RDA thankfully didn't. The minimal unclean vocals in the bridge are often removed for the radio versions of the song, but that doesn't detract from the song's overall playability. This song dips into the darker side of "emo" which is saying something when one considers that in general, the genre is dark. 

7. "The Taste of Ink" - The Used 

Most don't know who this band is. But without them there would be no emo nor any post hardcore. The Used have been making sweet music since 2001. Their self titled debut included this hit song, and a setlist staple for the band today. It's classic 00s post hardcore/emo. The lyrics are up for interpretation. We're partial to the theory that the song is about the band finally releasing their debut album, and all the things that they went through to get to this important point in their careers. But whatever you get out of it, this is a great song. The rhythmic bounce it has usually doesn't appear in this genre of music (which tends to focus on melodies and the chorus). 

6. "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" - Panic! at the Disco 

Could have included any number of songs from Panic!'s debut album, though it's arguable whether or not one can call "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out" emo. Though the instrumental aspects of the song fit better with alt. rock or even indie, but the tone of the song fits the "emo" billing. Written while Ryan Ross was still in the band, his lyrics are what grounded the band in their "emo" roots. Roots that since Ross' departure, have been abandoned in favor of electronics and mainstream grooves. "I Write Sins..." is without a doubt Panic! at the Disco's signature song. You can't go to a Panic! concert and not know this song. Nor can you be a fan without knowing this song. 

5. "I Miss You" - blink-182

Most of this "untitled" album saw blink-182 moving towards a more mature, and darker sound. "I Miss You" is the best of the bunch (aside from "Feeling This"). The slower song features the band toning down their antics and the power chords for something new. Travis Barker gives us a rhythmic drum beat that pretty much stays the same throughout the duration of the song. The dual vocals between Mark and Tom are probably best represented here. You get Mark's deeper croons as background vocals, while Tom wails the chorus and his verses. The orchestration is a first, as is the use of jazz aspects (like the brushes instead of drum sticks). The ballad was unexpected from a band that usually wrote about partying and getting laid, but it works on so many levels. 

4. "Sugar We're Goin' Down"/"Thnx fr th Mmrs" - Fall Out Boy 

Two equally iconic songs from the high point of "emo". The lead single off the band's second album, "Sugar We're Goin' Down", it became the breakthrough song that sent FOB to the top (all the way to #8 of the Billboard Hot 100). A slower song, the song's strongest attribute is the melodic and overall catchy verses. Patrick Stump weaves his magic as he belts out the lyrics. This was the soundtrack to 2005 for many teenagers. Jump ahead two years, when FOB released the second single from their album, "Infinity on High". The dramatic intro accompanied by the string and horn section appropriately matches the band's grandeur. The song was written about two lovers who, despite the fact they've lost interest in each other, they continue to see each other. Long story short, this is one infectious earworm that has a great chorus. "One night and one more time. Thanks for the memories, even though they weren't so great."

3. "Misery Business"/"Decode" - Paramore

Ask us to choose from these two singles. Can't, it's almost impossible. They're both incredible. Alright sure one was written for Twilight but take solace knowing that's the only good thing that's come out of that horrible movie. "Misery Business" is one of the band's most energetic and high pace songs. The gentle strings in the intro, to the quick guitar riff that follows. On the other hand, you have "Decode" which has the band doing something a bit more low-key and mature. Hayley William's sings her heart out for the chorus of "How did we get here? Well I used to know you so well." The ambient intro that is lead Josh Farro's impeccable guitar melody. 

2. "Makedamnsure" - Taking Back Sunday 

The band's signature song, it broke into mainstream music way back in 2006. Peaking at #48 on the Billboard Hot 100, the single brought the band to a new audience. It followed a slew of other successful "emo" songs. Alternatively, we could have included "Cute with the E (Cut from the Team)" or You're So Last Summer". But "Makedamnsure" remains our favorite for its intense chorus, and Adam Lazzara's slick verses. The opening line of the chorus alone is reason enough to love the song, "I just wanna break down so badly! Well I trip over everything you say. I just wanna break you down so badly! In the worst way!

1. "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" - My Chemical Romance 

If you call yourself a fan of emo, then you better made damn sure (get it?) you have this song. My Chemical Romance ushered in a new era of alt. rock with the release of their 2nd album, "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge". And at the helm of that storm was this single, arguably their signature. From it's iconic music video, to Gerard Way's ridiculously black hair, the band may hate the label of "emo", but without them the genre wouldn't be what it is today.