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Top 10 Best Emo Bands of All Time

VO: Matt Campbell

Script written by George Pacheco

Get out that handkerchief, open up that diary and get ready to let loose those true feelings. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Emo Bands of All Time. For this list, we'll be ranking the most influential and long standing bandsfrom the emo genre.

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Top 10 Emo Bands of All Time

 
Get out that handkerchief, open up that diary and get ready to let loose those true feelings. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Emo Bands of All Time.
 
For this list, we'll be ranking the most influential and long standing bandsfrom the emo genre. We'll be discussing groups who have either cemented the musical foundations of emo, or have otherwise found worldwide acclaim and success with their own takes on the style. We'll be omitting Weezer from this list, however, as most fans tend to only equivocate the band's self-titled debut and Pinkerton as landmark emo records.
 

#10: Thursday

 
New Jersey's Thursday are one of the most successful and popular bandsfrom the "screamo" genre, a sub-style of emo which employs impassioned screaming and heavy guitars to create a properly emphatic impact. A few ofthe band's members share vocal duties, alternating between sensitive clean singing and screams to offset Thursday's energetic guitar attack. The band was active for almost fifteen years before taking an extended hiatus in 2011, only to reunite in 2016 for a series of festival dates which included a homecoming show in New Jersey's Starland Ballroom. 
 
 

#9: Jawbreaker

 
Sprung up from the jam spaces of New York University, this punk rock inspired emo outfit progressed the genre to new heights during the latter part of the 1980s, and into the 90s. Jawbreaker's subtle mixture of do-it-yourself ideals and jangly indie rock guitar-work quickly won an audience, and it wasn't long before the band signed a major label deal with media mogul David Geffen. The resulting album's scrubbed-clean production style diluted the band's favor with fans, however, with Jawbreaker going their separate ways not long afterwards.
 
 

#8: The Get Up Kids

 
Emo's second wave found a major power player within Kansas City, Missouri's catchiest young rock band, The Get Up Kids. Pop-beat, stripped down, songwriting was finding favor within this newer crop of emo bands, and The Get Up Kids were quick to lead the charge with straight ahead, sing-along rock 'n roll. The band's 1999 album Something to Write Home About focused upon anthemic melodies and big time choruses, and did a great job at increasing the band's profile, introducing them to a whole new group of fans. These fans included future pop/punk-star groups Blink 182 and Fall Out Boy, both of which cite The Get Up Kids as a major influence.
 
 

#7: Dashboard Confessional

 
If you were to look up the textbook definition of "emo" in the dictionary, you’d see a photo of Dashboard Confessional and their charismatic front man Chris Carrabba. This isn't an insult, of course, as Dashboard Confessional seemingly have a knack for composing some of the most effective and memorable emo tunes around, including the hit single "Hands Tied”. Carrabba's sensitive and soft vocals meld perfectly with the band's often upbeat and laser-focused attention to songwriting detail. Dashboard Confessional also possess a powerful connection with their fans, who have been known to shout back the band's lyrics in a passionate, call and response frenzy.
 
 

#6: American Football

 
It isn't often that a band makes one of these "best of" lists based solely upon the strength of a single album, but such was the impact of American Football upon the emo scene with their 1999 self-titled debut. The Illinois based band struck a chord with fans with an EP before dropping the album via Polyvinyl Records, a collection of songs which hinged upon a soft, yet determined musical approach. Complex time signatures and a jazz influence permeated American Football's songwriting, but the band didn't last long as a touring entity, and decided to call it quits shortly after the new millennium. 2016 saw the return of American Football to the emo scene, however, with a new album and tour plans announced to their patient fans.
 

#5: Brand New

 
It takes a bevy of influences to create the musical melting pot which is Long Island's Brand New. Indie rock, pop, punk and classic rock all make up the creative stew for songwriter Jesse Lacey and company, with Brand New drawing inspiration from a diverse spread of artists, such as The Smiths, The Cars and The Beach Boys. Vocal and guitar melodies alike make up the intriguing sound of Brand New, with particular attention paid to arrangements and songwriting. Fans responded well, with Brand New gaining more headway with each successive album.
 
 

#4: Taking Back Sunday

 
Hot indie darlings to major label emo heroes? It's more likely than you think when we're talking about the story of Taking Back Sunday. Upbeat, punk-fueled guitar riffs and pop-friendly song craft defined the early energy ofTaking Back Sunday, while later albums incorporated more than enough layered vocals and aggressive musicianship to expose the band to fans beyond the traditional emo spectrum. Indeed, fast forward almost twenty years since their formation, and Taking Back Sunday are still going strong in 2016 with their latest album, Tidal Wave.
 

#3: My Chemical Romance

 
New Jersey has been known for spawning a bevy of emo's most important and influential bands, one of which being a little band by the name of My Chemical Romance. Goth, pomp and unabashed punk rock were filtered into MCR's increasingly extravagant sound, amplified by the band's evocative and memorable music videos. Epic tracks like "Welcome to the Black Parade" and "The Ghost of You" were offset by the comical "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" to create a musical style which was unique and commercially successful across the board.
 
 

#2: Jimmy Eat World

 
The story of Mesa, Arizona's Jimmy Eat World is one of indie rock street cred done right; a success story for a band truly deserving of all their accolades. Radio came running for the pop-friendly sound of Jimmy Eat World with the breakout success of their 2001 album "Bleed American." Follow up albums "Futures" and "Chase This Light" increased the band's profile exponentially, perfecting their balancing act of combining smart rock rhythms, strong songwriting and an honest, confessional sensibility with frontman Jim Adkins' explosive stage presence.
 
Before we reveal our top emo pick, here are a few honorable mentions!
 
Braid
 
Texas is the Reason
 
The Promise Ring
 

#1: Sunny Day Real Estate

                        
There are few emo bands from the nineties more influential than Sunny Day Real Estate. The quartet only managed a small handful of albums before calling it quits in 2001, but the legacy of their major label debut album "Diary" remains one of the most powerful in the genre's history. The album was a smash for label Sub Pop Records, and inspired legions of youngerbands with its fresh and dynamic approach to sensitive, melodic rock songwriting. Want proof? Simply listen to the album's lead single “Seven” for evidence of just how important Sunny Day were to emo's development as a viable and successful musical genre.
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