Sunday, 11 February 2007

"Emo"... the kids need an emotional fix

Youth is wasted on the young. Free from decrepitude and regret, with a thousand possible lives ahead of them, you'd expect the young to be elated, hopeful, ambitious and dripping with anticipation.

But they're not. The young are choosing to be sad. Reflective. Brooding. Emotional.

And they're not doing it alone. This is not the passive, bedroom-bound emotion of solitude that has forever been a feature of adolescence. Instead this is a shared experience with it's own genre of music, code of behaviours and dress sense. "Emo" is both personal experience and badge of allegiance... performing the same function that Mod, Punk, Goth, Grungehead and Candy Raver have in previous editions of adolecence.

Now the term "Emo" has been hanging round music for a while, but in the last few years it has been given a clear new meaning... the display of strong emotion. And this makes it quite unique as a muscial genre... because "emo" is not defined by a structure or style of music, but simply by the effect it has on the listener. If it evokes strong emotion, it's "emo"... so potentially this is a very large genre. For starters, check out My Chemical Romance, Death Cab for Cutie, Thursday, Jimmy Eat World and Funeral for a Friend. You might also want to explore "screamo" a new sub-genre of "emo".

If you're not sure how you feel about the music, you can take this test to find out whether you're "emo" or not. But if "emo" gets your amygdala popping, then I highly recommend you drag your self-loathing down to Feeling Gloomy... "the UK's only club night that brings you the saddest, most melancholy music known to man". I've been. It's great.

So if the kids are inviting gloom and sadness upon themselves, then surely brands that want to get close need to shroud themselves in melancholy? Yet I can't think of a single brand that makes "emo ads". Can it really be so hard to get a little brand loyalty out of a glum adolescent?


Nick said...

It's funny - as I was reading your article in admap the first thing that occurred to me was that there are loads of strong brands in popular music who have built themselves on a kind of edifying sadness. It dates back to before EMO - Radiohead do it, The Byrds did it. Even The educated Bees do it. These are consistent, multimillionpound brands who have people travelling across the world to see them.

What is interesting, though, is the arguments you get between fans and non-fans. I love Radiohead and will tell anyone who will listen. Others can’t see how I could like something so “depressing”. Gloomy EMO is partly attractive because it alienates others. I wonder whether the same would be true of an EMO brand?

David Bonney said...

That's a really good thought - i wonder if niche brands could better be defined by who they're not for than who they are for? Actually, that's probably how things work already in most case.. although rather implicitly.

And there's an explicit case of brand definition by alienation... "Yorkie: it's not for girls"... although the real strategy there was to target women... all very confusing!

Thanks for your comment Nick... hope to start blogging again very soon.

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Anonymous said...

I'm not very sure about what is to be an emo.. :S, I had friend but I never try to understand him, he spend much time buying viagra online, on the pc all day... but I think this happends because how's the world right now, I mean everyone have been depressed sometime, Am I right ?