The Best Emo Songs of All Time

February 21, 2024
David Sunnyside

Ahead of the 2022 release of a deluxe edition of their eponymous debut album, the band are still delivering some of the most enduringly affecting music on the genre. The second-wave band’s anthems of yearning longing and betrayal are some of the most aching, melodically and lyrically.

Nostalgia is baked into a lot of emo songs, and it’s one of the genre’s biggest selling points. Whether it’s a reference to a movie title like “Oh Messy Life,” or an ode to a lost love in the form of a ballad such as 'Parking Lot,' it’s hard to not feel moved by the earnest, evocative vocals and tumbling guitar riffs.

The mid-2000s were a weird time for emo, as the scene rose to prominence with a cult following among black-and-red clad kids who cried along to emotional lyrics about self-harm and depression. It was a scene that Urban Dictionary called “toxic,” and even though Hayley Williams has since condemned the label, it’s fair to say the bands themselves are largely responsible.

All the best emo songs are made to be listened to with your heart broken, and it’s hard to choose an ultimate single from this period. However, 'Cute Without the 'E' wins for laying out all of emo’s melodramatic cliches about betrayal in a tight, slick musical portrait. It’s a contender for the best song of all time, and it’s also a solid argument against short attention spans. The rest of the album is just as strong, too.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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