I just thought I'd clear that up after all of these "definitions" in which I have encountered an unbelievable amount of people who try to pass off their blatantly false pretenses as fact, and are slowly infecting others with their high-horse, holier-than-thou bullshit. Because honestly, with your ridiculous definitions, Beethoven, George Gershwin, and Britney Spears are/was "emo bands."
Now, onto the real definition.
In the early 90s there was a movement in the hardcore genre that came to be known as "Emotive Hardcore," spearheaded by Rites Of Spring. Harder-core-than-thou kids, who swore by Dischord Records a la Minor Threat, actually coined the term "Emo" as something of a put-down for the kids who really liked Rites Of Spring, Indian Summer and this new wave of "Emotive" Hardcore bands. That's right, "Emo" was once not something kids called themselves. The field exploded outwards from there - Level-Plane Records has always been the most famous Emo label. Acts like Yaphet Kotto, I Hate Myself, Saetia, Hot Cross, A Day In Black And White, Funeral Diner, I Would Set Myself On Fire For You, You And I, and hosts of others came in the next decade. Most emo bands have since broken up, but there's still the occasional hold-out (again, the majority of Level-Plane Records' roster has been a procession of emo acts). Like most DIY hardcore/punk of the time, a majority found its way onto vinyl and not much else. Some people consider bands like Fugazi, and later Sunny Day Real Estate, a progression of emo, but personally, I don't quite follow that philosophy.
Often, more recently, this gets intertwined with post-hardcore, and understandably so - that's nothing to make an issue of, since well shit, at least it's close.
Since the late 90s, though, bands have been emerging in the vein of Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, and the thousands of their clones. As far as I can tell, some lazy journalist somewhere, writing an article about them, decided "Well, fuck, no one knows what emo is anyways, so I'll call these bands "emo" - sounds more appealing than bubblegum pop rock..." and the spiral continued downwards into the current amalgomation of bands MTV has told everyone is "emo."
Somehow, people decided that "emo" meant "emotional," which is obviously bullshit, as 99% of bands make music to illicit emotion, which would make "emotional" a completely all-encompassing genre from classical to opera to pop to rap.
Hope that helps.
Rites of Spring is emo.
Old Person #2: Yeah its so weird. I woulda called them Green Day clones back in '92.
Old Person #1: Them was the days.
Old Person #2: Yeah. I'm gonna go make fun of emo on urbandictionary. People will think I'm an old creep in a young person's world.
A) A genre of music
B) Style of fasion
(NOTE - The following may be just slightly biased)
Emo music (short for Emocore or Emotional Hardcore) is a derivitive of the mid 80's hardcore scene. Born in Washington D.C., early emo was a mix of hardcore punk with both emotional lyrics and performances, dominated by bands such as "Rites Of Spring" and "Embrace". By the late 90's, most original emo bands had disbanded or changed direction. From 2000 onwards, many bands have unwillingly or unrightfully been labled as emo, such as "Dashboard Confessional" and "Taking Back Sunday". Many "classic" emo fans and outsiders view modern emo music as warterd-down punk rock.
Emo fasion or "the emo look" has a number of simple characteristics. For males, hair should be black (although dark red/brown is acceptable), greassy, have a long fringe and a bang covering one eye. For females, although dark hair is prefered, any colour is acceptable. While hair may be cleaner, it must still cover a large portion of the face. Black shirts and jackets are worn, although on rare occasions an emo may wear a grey or white hoodie. Jeans are the clothing of choice for the emo, although for males anything out of their sisters closet is fine. Footware is typically any sort of skating shoe. To complete the look, apply excessive amounts of eyeshadow (males and females), put on a pair of black horned glasses and start listening to your eyepod.
Emo culture, dominated by middle to upper class suburban white teenagers, is characterised by weak music, self loathing and melodrama. After listening to some emo music (generally, but not always shite), emo-boy will log onto myspace to talk to his emo friends. After blogging about how shit life is, how he fucking hates his parents, and how the whole world hates him, he'll have a look at emo-girls myspace page. A quick look at the 17,000 photos she's uploaded (either of her looking into the distance, her looking up at the camera in a confused and drugfucked way or her at an emo gathering), emo-boy and emo-girl will chat to each other. The conversation quickly turns to how they are both alone and nobody understands them. Emo-boy has had enough of myspace (for a few minutes at least) and decides he is depressed. He writes a "deep and meaningfull" poem, before deciding to end it all. A quick slash of the wrists and it's time to sit in the dark and wait for the end to come. Unfortunately, he only drove the razor 2 milimetres into his skin, so there's a pretty good chance he'll be back at school next week, trying (not very hard) to hide his fresh scars and emotions.
"Cheer Up emo-kid"
I'm tired of seeing entries either saying all emos are self harming and self obsessed bastards or that they're perfectly normal and all a bunch of fucking lovable people.
Fact is, they're just like every other sorry-ass clique; some of them are cool and some of them suck more dick than a gay pedophile in a preschool bathroom.
Emo Hater: Emos all suck!
Person with common sense: Some emos are pieces of shit, and some emos are perfectly alright!