If I had a penny every time people confused these genres…
First of all, scene is not a music genre, it’s just a fashion. It’s characterized by bright colours, whereas emo, which is also a music genre, is often associated with the colour black.
In other words, scene kids will often have brightly dyed hair and neon clothing, which is why they are nicknamed “neon-emos”, whereas emo kids will often be dressed in black and have black hair.
This, of course, are the extremes of the two fashions. The lines between scene, emo, goth and punk can sometimes be blurred.
Punk was originally a subculture that emerged in the mid-seventies in the UK in reaction to the economic and political instability the country suffered from at the time. It became the symbol of teen rebellion, and in a political way, not just as a fashion or a fad.
Punk rock music is a branch of rock music that is very anti-establishment, and a perfect example of a punk band would be the Sex Pistols with their song “Anarchy for the U.K,” released in 1976, or “God Save the Queen”, released the following year. The latter mocks the royal Commonwealth anthem, with the first verse being:
“God save the queen
The fascist regime
They made you a moron
A potential H bomb.”
Basically, you cannot be punk in 2020 if you support Trump, or if you support the status quo in any way 🙂
Goth, on the other hand, was a subculture that evolved in the eighties and has roots in punk rock, but it distinguishes itself by its darker music and introspective lyrics that will later be adapted by emo bands.
Themes of death, love, religion and the supernatural are very widespread in gothic rock music. The Cure is arguably the most well-known band of this genre, and Joy Division is sometimes referred to as the first gothic band, but music critics are split on the matter, as some say it was rather a post-punk band.
Emo (short for “emotional hardcore”) emerged from post-hardcore and punk rock music in the eighties and early nineties, gaining popularity due to early emo bands to the likes of Weezer and Jimmy Eat World.
What makes a band emo rather than any of the aforementioned genres is much more their lyrical content rather than their instrumentals. Emo lyrics are often introspective, aiming to make the listener actually feel what the singer feels. A good example of a more modern emo band is Have Mercy.
Furthermore, a band is not emo just because they may have an emo look to them! For example, Panic! At the Disco isn’t and never was emo!
Although “emo” also quickly became a fashion statement similar to scene, there is a huge difference between emo music and emo style.
Take My Chemical Romance: Many people assigned the “emo” label to them uniquely because of their fashion, despite the lead singer, Gerard Way, expressing his disdain for it. Fall Out Boy and Twenty One Pilots are also not emo.
It can be argued that these bands have emo undertones to their music. Then again, this could be said about every band or singer that releases sad songs, but you don’t see anyone claiming that Adele is emo, do you?
I rest my case, but I’m no music expert, so if you disagree with anything I’ve stated, I’d welcome a rebuttal 🙂 (As long as the rebuttal does not claim that MCR is emo because Gerard Fucking Way has said he hates being called emo.)
By That Emo Kid