‘Emo’ music lacks thought and orginality

Tuesday marked the release of The Mars Volta’s latest effort, Frances the Mute. It also marked one of the few times this year an album came out that I actually wanted to buy. Rock may not be dead, but modern “alternative rock” is doing its darnedest to try to lock rock away in a dark basement somewhere.

Take for instance Alternative Press’s “Most Anticipated CDs of 2005.” Brand New? The Ataris? The Early November? Don’t people have better things to be waiting in gleeful anticipation of, like herpes or the Dude, Where’s My Car director’s cut?

Whiny emo kids playing a G-chord on a guitar and crying at the same time is not music — it’s a shallow substitute for the real thing. It’s an excuse for kids to conform to non-conformity by dressing just like each other and stage-diving at a Dashboard Confessional concert. Heck, Hot Topic should be giving royalty checks to bands like Taking Back Sunday and The Used for keeping them in business.

People always complain about menial pop acts such as Ashlee Simpson and Clay Aiken and how they are supposedly the epitome of everything that is wrong with music. But which is worse: Music that was written by a 40-year-old balding man and performed by a 12-year-old girl, or music that sounds like it was written by a 12-year-old girl but performed by a 23-year-old guy with dyed black hair and a studded belt?

Pop music artists know their place. They produce meaningless music with catchy, bubblegum hooks and sell millions of copies of it. So-called “alternative” musicians, on the other hand, do the exact same thing, except they act like what they do matters more.

They subscribe terms to their music like “emo” (short for emotion); they believe singing about not having a date to the school dance is more emotionally deep than any other music ever written. Then if bands like Glassjaw get really emotional and start screaming, they call their music “scremo” or “emocore” because “hissy-fit emo” just doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as well.

Bands lacking originality have, and will always be, a part of music. Merely being a no-talent band isn’t the problem. The problem begins when these hackneyed bands start claiming to be something they’re not and getting praise from the popular media. How can you expect more people to listen to alternative music when the poster boys for it are My Chemical Romance and Story of the Year? The genre has so much more to offer.

Rock will never die; it will only continue to evolve until it no longer resembles what it once was. Sure, there will always be bands that stay true to it, but they will be pushed into the background in favor of things like emo, pop-punk and nu metal.

The Mars Volta is one of a dying breed of true rock innovators. As music becomes more categorized and sub-categorized, it is nice to know that there are still some things that can’t be neatly packaged under a stupid heading like “emo.” If your band can be summed up in one word, you are no longer original.

Matthew Carroll is a sophomore magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].