He was a boy (who wore eyeliner), she was a girl (with backcombed hair), could I make it any more obvious? No? I’m talking about tattoo and piercing-loving, black nail varnish-wearing, ‘deep’, angsty, ‘f*ck-the-system’ emos.
It’s the movement any child of MySpace will remember from the mid-Noughties: the black hoodies, sweeping black fringes streaked with neon pink, which almost completely covered your eyes so you couldn’t see where you were going and you’d trip over your heavily buckled DMs. The men from middle-class backgrounds shouting about how awful their lives are. And the Queen of the pop/punk scene at the centre of it all (well, for a young, impressionable teenage girl like me)… Avril Lavigne, with her stripey tie and sweatbands.
That may have been 20-odd years ago for many of us (or not at all if you were too mainstream or.. y’know, just too cool to bother with an emo era), but I’ve got news for you… Avril’s back. Emo’s back. It’s all coming back.
This week, Avril Lavigne made a 10/10 TikTok debut by dropping a video of her miming to her 2002 hit Sk8er Boi, with the video then flashing to actual skate legend Tony Hawk while the song continues. Noughties emo band My Chemical Romance’s long awaited comeback tour has now been announced for 2022.
But it’s not just about the emos of yesteryear making a return. These days Billie Eilish fills a similar edgy, angsty role with her (until recently) green and black hair. She’s made big, dark, baggy clothes cool again and banished The Smile from popular culture. Look happy in a floral dress on the cover of a magazine and it’s cool career suicide.
Pop/punk singer Machine Gun Kelly is part of a new A list set (being with Megan Fox helps). Blink 182 are back… no not musically (although they did release another album in 2019) but since Travis Barker has been dating Kourtney Kardashian. Seeing Travis all over the tabloids again is almost like being back in your teenage bedroom, Blink 182 posters, Sum41 and Good Charlotte blaring out while you furiously scribble about how much you HAAATE YOUR PARENTS in your diary.
But also, look around.. the world has gone emo. The pandemic helped to rebirth the movement. Most of us have spent the past 15 months or so confined to our bedrooms: angst-ridden, existential despair, moping around hating our lives and hating the world – aka lockdown. Pretty much everyone I know has felt misunderstood this past year (brief Zoom chats are terrible for getting across what you really mean). We’ve also spent the year cutting our own hair - emos love to hack at theirs with the kitchen scissors.
On top of that, embracing our emotions is the most 2021/Gen Z quality ever. Mental health, periods, anger, pain, identity, a disgust with the world. Let it out! That’s what Twitter’s there for – which, by the way, is the new MySpace for us to post our deep/angry posts that tell the world who we are. We can choose songs to soundtrack our Instagram and TikTok posts now, like we attached songs to our MySpace profiles to send an unsubtle message that THIS is the song that encapsulates our uniqueness.
The spanner in the works, though, countering this otherwise watertight emo-revival theory, is that skinny jeans and side partings – both beloved by the emo - are officially over. Gen Z kindly passed on the memo recently. But now they’ve been banished from the mainstream surely that makes them ripe emo territory and means emos will be bringing them back any day now?
The real question is, do we want an ‘emo’ comeback? Billie Eilish makes it look cool and mysterious but I’m freaking out that we might have to start slapping on the heavy eyeliner and white powder soon. And if we’re allowed out of our bedrooms, why stay inside and slam doors? Being more open about our feelings is great. But if you’re freaking out about the rest don’t worry, because we’ve also been promised our Hot Girl Summer, which, I think we can all agree, sounds a lot more fun.
I predict a duel between the emo and the Hot Girl Summer now. And if there’s one thing to make emos run a mile it’s the thought of sun, weddings, rose and a joyous celebration that acknowledges difficult periods can come to an end. After the 15 months we’ve all had, we can’t let emo summer win.