On Monday, emo music forefathers American Football announced a reunion tour, and today the late Mineral hinted at something, though we don’t know what just yet. We’ve hit peak emo revival. And through all of this, music writers are debating the one thing that truly (does not) matter: Who’s responsible for making emo cool again?
In the great tradition of music criticism (poptimism, anyone?), the conversation surrounding the #emorevival has been as much about what's been written on the resurgence as the music itself. Today, the conversation about the conversation hit a boiling point, perhaps because it seems like every band that could possible reunite already has, or perhaps it has something to do with this round-table discussion on Wondering Sound discussing the "credibility" of the pop-punk genre (a close cousin of emo; a number of bands flit in between the two).
Whatever it was, Scott Heisel, the managing editor for Alternative Press chose to voice his frustration with the spike in emo coverage on the internet:
Also, fuck all y'all media outlets who ignored this music until these bands started reuniting. Where were you the past 15 YEARS, Ian Cohen?— Scott Heisel (@scottheisel) April 23, 2014
Ian Cohen, who Heisel calls out directly, is one of the critics leading the swing in favorable reviews for music coming out of the oft-maligned genre recently. You see, Pitchfork, the (in)famous tastemakers of "cool", weren't too kind to the emo of the middle aughts. Among the many, many replies to that first tweet, Heisel makes this very point:
@Steven_Hyden Like P4k—it is crazy to me that they have vehemently ignored Paramore, Fall Out Boy, Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, et al...— Scott Heisel (@scottheisel) April 23, 2014
Pitchfork isn't alone though – even a site like Grantland ran a feature (by Steven Hyden, who engaged with Heisel on Twitter today) on Modern Baseball and The Wonder Years, right alongside their NBA coverage. Heisel, it would seem, is bitter because while he toiled for a decade covering the dissed genre, everyone else is capitalizing now that it's convenient.
@Steven_Hyden Very excited for the bands, but I'm less than enthused by the distinct lack of respect toward writers who did all the legwork.— Scott Heisel (@scottheisel) April 23, 2014
It's essentially asking the question: Who gets credit for making emo cool again? (Which ignores the question that probably should be asked: Is emo cool again?) Is it Heisel, who has stuck with the scene since its "death", or is it the writers covering the genre now, who Heisel claims were too "ashamed" of emo to write about it earlier?
The answer: it doesn't matter. A pissing-contest over who's liked emo longer isn't going to do the genre any favors in popularity. But of course an argument about emo descends into "I was talking about this band way before you were". As Cohen and Hyden (and a slew of others on Twitter) pointed out to Heisel, those who've hung around with the genre should be pleased with the progress it has made recently, both in terms of credibility and quality, instead of arguing, essentially, "I liked this first."
Forgotten in a lot of this, too, are the bands themselves, without which there wouldn't be anything to bitch about online. In an interview with Noisey, Evan Weiss makes the point that the reason the genre is getting a higher profile is because, frankly, it is better as a whole than it used to be: "I think a lot of the bands involved are writing really great records now and figuring out who they want to be in the end, how they want the shit to sound. We’re all in uncharted territory." Of course, this is the same Weiss who vehemently argues emo never went away to begin with. So who deserves credit for making emo cool again? The bands – Weiss and his ilk – who are making music that's worth talking about again.
Instead of Heisel complaining that more people are covering his favorite genre, maybe he should spend time figuring out where it goes from here: it's getting to be undeniable that the emo bubble is on the verge of bursting. But until that happens, let Noisey's Dan Ozzi set the record straight:
Just a reminder: No one OWNS emo. It's just a dorky little thing we all share to cry about our exes and wear cool jeans and stuff.— Dan Ozzi (@danozzi) April 23, 2014