Artsy, College

Panic! at the Desk (oh)

“Let’s get these teen hearts beating, faster! faster!” -my AIM profile circa 2007

So I’m currently writing a paper on Emo music and culture. Yes, I’m serious. Our final assignment for Music and Social Change is to examine music and collective identity. I think my professor was trying to send us in the direction of German Romanticism, Beethoven and Brahms and whatnot, but I figured My Chemical Romance and Dashboard Confessional might be a little more interesting.

If you weren’t in middle school sometime between 2005 and 2008, let me give you a quick recap. “Emo” music, short for “emotional hardcore,” is a kind of rock-punk-indie-acoustic hybrid whose lyrics emphasize emotional experience. (Not happy emotions, though. Just despair and depression and heartbreak and that type of thing.) Think pale guys in skinny jeans with long hair and troubled pasts. In my paper– which I’m actively procrastinating doing right now, by the way– I’ll be exploring this Emo stereotype and how it has affected American youth culture. (Liberal arts assignments are just so fulfilling, you know?)

So I’ve been doing a lot of research in preparation for the paper-drafting process. And by research, I mean watching lots of nostalgic music videos on YouTube. Somewhere between “Helena” by My Chemical Romance and “Thnks fr the Mmrs” by Fall Out Boy, I came across the pinnacle of my middle school experience. The artist I considered my favorite for a solid two years, because they were edgy and cool and no one really knew who they were. Okay, everyone kind of knew who they were, but that was only because they’d heard “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” on the radio, not because they really liked the band. I was a true fan because I had like, six of their other songs on my iPod Nano, none of which were ever played on the radio.

“Wow, Panic! at the Disco is still kind of awesome,” I thought to myself two days ago, feeling 1) surprised to find that my twelve year old self had such good taste in music and 2) a little bit like I had hopped into a time machine and been spit back out in the middle of seventh grade.

Sometime around 2009 it became markedly less cool to like Panic! at the Disco, but counterculture be damned, I am still a fan. They’re weird. They’re angry. They have that exclamation point. Their music videos belong in a haunted house circus tent.

Scary wedding circus!

Scary strip club circus!

Weird perverted mime that should never be allowed in a circus!

And they released this song a few months ago. Holy jam.

You just can’t beat the angst-ridden sound of some boys singing about creepy hotels and failed weddings and being young and messed up and stuff, am I right? Anyone else? Just me?

Alright, I think I’ve procrastinated enough. Time to go throw on some skinny jeans and show this paper who’s boss.


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