Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Screamo's Unexplored Depths

I was thinking that I'd go for a hat trick and talk about stupid people for three days in a row, but instead I wanted to write about something I've been contemplating for a couple of days in the back of my mind--the screamo music genre. Some of you may be thinking, "Huh?" or "WTF?". For those of you thinking that, I will attempt to help you out by giving you a few examples of what the screamo genre encompasses. Screamo got its name for the incorporation of screaming within the emo genre.

Some trademarks of the emo genre are mid-tempo pacing, melodic & crooning vocals, and an "emotional" tone to the lyrics. At the beginning of the genre, back when grunge and metal were all the rage, most of the bands in those genres didn't write lyrics that were easily connected to. Most of the songs were about partying, posturing, and pissing people off. With the advent of the 90's, however, many younger people were looking for something "more" in their music. With this brought the explosion of the emo genre.

Newer bands shifted their focus to a more appealing tone for their music, yet maintaining the popular rock sound. In addition to forming a more widely digestible sound, the lyrics of this new genre deviated from the rock & punk lyrics of the bands around them. The lyrics were usually sad or melancholy, focusing on the bad things that happened in life. Since high school and college can be hell for some people (more than likely most everyone) it was easy for people to connect to the content of the lyrics being written by emo bands.

After a while, however, I think most kids got around to realizing that being sad all the time, and constantly talking about how sad and crappy they were, just sucked. They got pissed about how sad their lives had become. With this came the revitalization of "heavy" music, but with this revitalization came all the stereotypes of metal from years past. Nu-metal was nothing but crap about being pissed off and nothing deeper.

Now we have reached today. The current rock climate is defined by the screamo sound. Kids, no longer content to simply be either exclusively sad or exclusively pissed, wanted to feel something more complex in their music. Why settle for one emotional extreme when you could have both? With this thought came the advent of screamo.

In screamo songs you have both the emotional lyrics and content of emo as well as the aggressive outlet of pissed off metal. Instead of battling against each other, like it may seem would be the case, these two emotions fed off one another.

In a perfectly crafted screamo song, a listener will be confronted with the misery that is everyday life, but instead of simply being content with it, as the people in the emo genre are, they rally against the absurdities of life. They rally with a vengeance. This vengeful explosion of emotion now has a reason for existing--the harrowing reality of our miserable lives. In metal and nu-metal there was no defining reason for why they were pissed, they just were. There was no underlying meaning to why bands were pissed so there wasn't much to grab on to.

With screamo's mixing of the recognition that our lives are less than perfect and the assertive, hard-hitting notion that we shouldn't be satisfied by what we see leads to a genre that is defining the current batch of rock listeners. Many are calling this genre as clich├ęd as both nu-metal and emo, but I feel it is much more than both. It is a step above other genres that simply feed on one singular emotion. The reciprocal interplay between melody & aggression, complacence & action, and screaming & singing are what makes this genre a style of music that has a more universal appeal than either that helped to influence it.

I am not trying to say that screamo is the epitome of music, but what I am trying to say is that screamo has more to offer, emotionally, than the other brands of rock that are currently being shuffled around on the radio, MTV, and music internet sites. When a song can bring me to tears, all the while making me want to rage against the forces that brought on those tears, I know that there is something deeper behind it. It is this something deeper that drives my appreciation and love of music. Once this emotional deepness is lost, my love of music won't be too far behind.

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