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Evolving out of hardcore punk as a more artistic variation on the genre, emo became an important influence on underground rock by the late ’90s, receiving praise from both modern punks and indie-rockers.
Some emo artists express a more progressive musical style, utilizing complex guitar work, unconventional song structures, avant-garde noise, and extreme dynamic shifts; while some emo leans much more toward pop-punk, while being a bit more detailed.

Emo lyrics are profoundly personal, and are most of the time either free-associative poetry or intimate confessionals. Though it’s far less aggressively masculine, emo directly birthed from hardcore and therefore also concerns itself with authenticity and anti-commercialism; the genre grew out of the idea that commercial music was too artificial and calculated to express any true emotion. Because emo values authentic and deep emotion that defies rationality, the music can be a bit overexaggerated in its search for ever grander statements. But at its best, emo has a colossal power that manages to be emotional, inspiring, and intimate all at the same time.

The groundwork for emo was laid by Hüsker Dü’s classic Zen Arcade, which expanded the possibilities of hardcore bands to deal with more personal subject matter and write more melodic and technically challenging songs. Emo arose from Washington, D.C. a short while after, among the remains of the hardcore scene that had spawned Minor Threat and Bad Brains.
The word emo (or as it sometimes is called, emocore) was in the beginning used to describe hardcore bands that had frontmen who sang more eloquently instead of the usual shouts and rants; the first true emo band was Rites of Spring, which was then followed by ex-Minor Threat frontman Ian MacKaye’s short-lived Embrace.
The MacKaye-founded label Dischord Records became the center for D.C.’s evolving emo scene, as it released records by Rites of Spring, Dag Nasty, Nation of Ulysses, and eventually Ian MacKaye’s new band formed together with members from Rites of Spring, Fugazi.
Fugazi became the definitive early emo band, as they appealed to alternative rock listeners and received attention for their strictly anti-commercial ethics. Aside from Dischord, emo was in the beginning deeply underground, recorded by extremely short-lived bands and released in small amounts by small labels; some of these band’s vocalists actually wept onstage during song climaxes, earning ridicule from hardcore purists.

Not counting Fugazi, emo didn’t truly break out until the mid-’90s due to Sunny Day Real Estate, whose early records practically defined the style for many listeners. Taking the intricate guitar work of Fugazi and combining it with Seattle grunge, genuine prog-rock, and softly sentimental vocals, Sunny Day Real Estate created an immense legacy influencing many who related to their dramatic melodies and inward-looking mysticism.
Some of these listeners connected equally to the ironic, geeky introspection and catchy pop-punk of Weezer’s Pinkerton album.

Several artists and bands contined to build on the groundwork laid by Fugazi (like Quicksand and Drive Like Jehu), but most ’90s bands took inspiration from some combination of Fugazi, Sunny Day Real Estate, and Weezer.
Bands like the Promise Ring, the Get Up Kids, Braid, Texas Is the Reason, Jimmy Eat World, Joan of Arc, and Jets to Brazil also greatly influenced the indie rock scene, thereby making emo one of the more popular underground rock styles by the turn of the millennium. .

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