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Top 10 Songs We All Listened To In Our Emo Phase

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Owen Maxwell
We all went through the emo phase! Do you remember these songs? For this list we're looking at the tracks that made our angst-filled years worthwhile. We're basing our choices on a mix of over-the-top lyrics, emotional performances and how each song defined our darker years. We're also excluding bands like Green Day who were listened to by emo kids but were much closer to the hard punk scene. we’ve included songs like “Note to self” from First to Last, "Sugar, We're Going Down” by Fall Out Boy and more!
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Top 10 Songs We All Listened To In Our Emo Phase


These songs spoke to us in ways our parents would never understand. Welcome to MsMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Songs We All Listened To In Our Emo Phase. For this list we're looking at the tracks that made our angst-filled years worthwhile. We're basing our choices on a mix of over-the-top lyrics, emotional performances and how each song defined our darker years. We're also excluding bands like Green Day who were listened to by emo kids but were much closer to the hard punk scene.



#10: "Note To Self" (2004)
From First To Last


From First To Last were barely out of high school when they released this hit, which is probably why its emotion is so powerful. Singer Matt Good reflects on the conflict of becoming the person you want to be, while trying to be comfortable with who you are. The song's clever conceit however, is that Good sings to his other self like a romantic partner. The intense crisis of identity helped the song easily click with teenagers trying to figure out who they really were. The band even added backing vocals to bring the story's other personality to life.



#9: "Seven Years" (2003)
Saosin


Where many bands take years to find their voice, Saosin put out their biggest hit on their debut record. The guitar work on 'Seven Years' contrasts the pain in the lyrics, and helped the band stand out from their contemporaries. The song's religious overtones and imagery give a deeper meaning to the tragic romance behind the track. The lyrics also make repeated comparisons to 'The Scarlet Letter' which also takes place over seven years. While 'Seven Years' was already a heartbreaking love song, it was its emotional take on a literary classic that made it stick with us.


#8: "Until The Day I Die" (2003)
Story Of The Year


An intense personality can be a turn off for relationships, but for Story of the Year it made for some iconic music. Singer Dan Marsala offers his heart ecstatically in every chorus, showing how unconditional his love truly is. Marsala's lines about suffering and even dying for his lover also speak to how dire relationships feel during our emotional years. This naivety is taken further in the following verse when Marsala reveals he's ignoring problems in his love life. The song's explosive, hooky guitar work and begging to be sung along with vocals, however, helped it gain our emo-earred attention.



#7: "The Taste Of Ink" (2003)
The Used


Unlike many of the negative songs in post-punk, 'The Taste Of Ink' celebrates finally breaking free from bad situations. Inspired by their own struggles with homelessness and leaving their small town, the band focused their frustrations into three euphoric minutes. While the song was originally written about their own life rut, the lyrics can broadly relate to anyone trying to escape a toxic situation. The song appropriately helped The Used make it big, and leave the rough life they sing about in the track. The track is still one of their most popular songs, and its optimism and bright sound helped emo kids stay hopeful .



#6: "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" (2006)

Panic! At The Disco


From the opening cello notes of this emo classic, Panic! At The Disco cemented their uniquely classy take on the genre. 'I Write Sins Not Tragedies' tells the story of a scandalous wedding where two guests reveal the bride has been cheating on her groom. The song's darker themes clash with the elegant instrumentation, and create a strong contrast within the track. While singer Brendon Urie has continuously joked about the song in the band's live shows, he's admitted that he still loves the track as well. Panic! At The Disco's theatrical writing has also allowed the track to age gracefully compared to their peers.



#5: "Misery Business" (2007)
Paramore


With the lack of female representation in pop punk, Paramore provided a refreshing voice and perspective for young listeners. Inspired by her turbulent high school years, Hayley Williams wrote a revenge story driven by her own youthful angst. Williams' roars go toe-to-toe with the distorted guitars of the chorus, and her vocals bring an empowering energy to the song. Hayley has even removed her slut-shaming lyrics from live versions of the song, which she now sees as offensive. The song echoes the frustrations of many teens to this day, which helped the song become a breakthrough hit for Paramore.



#4: "Sugar, We're Goin Down" (2005)
Fall Out Boy


Instead of complaining about somebody else, Fall Out Boy found success by admitting their own mistakes. 'Sugar, We're Goin Down' explores how lovers can see each other as goals, while simultaneously wanting to make things work. Thanks to poignant lyrics and an iconic music video, the song's popularity expanded from punk to pop charts. Along with its sharp commentary on adolescent romance, the track's rich wordplay made the track feel shockingly mature. While 'Sugar, We're Goin Down' is an undoubtedly catchy song, it's Fall Out Boy's self-awareness that has kept us coming back to it.




#3: "Cute Without the 'E' (Cut From The Team)" (2002)
Taking Back Sunday


As emo was slowly gaining traction in the early 2000s, Taking Back Sunday turned heads with a track that was never supposed to be a single. The fast guitar riffing complements the song's story of betrayal perfectly, while still feeling light and energetic. As over-the-top as the track's lines about suicide and murder are, they perfectly embodied how melodramatic we can be at a young age. “Cute Without the 'E'” helped launch pop-punk into the mainstream early on, while also influencing the genre for years. Despite some extreme lyrics, the song's accessible themes made it a perfect starting point for anyone new to emo.





#2: "Ohio Is For Lovers" (2005)
Hawthorne Heights


When Hawthorne Heights left their lives in Ohio to record their debut album, they had a hard time saying goodbye to their loved ones. Since they would be on the road for months, the band's lyrics attempt to console their girlfriends back home. While they're worried about their partners, Hawthorne Heights explain that the distance is hurting them too . The lyrics here describe a pain so intense that they need to cut themselves to get over their emotions. The song's dark and visceral lyrics spoke to many disturbed youth and helped it become one of the genre's most recognizable tracks .



Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:


"Miserable At Best" (2007)
Mayday Parade



"Downfall Of Us All" (2009)
A Day To Remember



"Ocean Avenue" (2004)
Yellowcard





#1: "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" (2004)
My Chemical Romance

Through fiery distortion and screaming, MCR became figureheads for emo. 'I'm Not Okay" tells the story of a boy who realizes a girl is using him, and decides to leave her. The plot was inspired by a girl Gerard Way liked in high school, who broke his heart when she took dirty pictures with her boyfriend. While the song encourages others to escape toxic relationships, it doesn't shy away from the pain that follows them. The song's triumphant declaration of sadness made it an empowering track for emo lovers, and Way even views it as an anthem for fans to accept being discontent.
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