Student Life Archives (2001-2008)

In defense of screamo


Our “In defense of…” series

We here at Cadenza acknowledge that we do our fair share of hating. We are unafraid to call a spade a spade, but we realize that that blade has two edges. Sure, we mock those who find enjoyment in Nickelback or Michael Bay movies, but some of us on staff have some fairly embarrassing songs on our iPods, some movies in our collection that we pretend were gifts. But why the guilt? If it gives you pleasure, wear it on your sleeve. If you can’t successfully defend your reasons for liking a piece of pop culture, then maybe you should reconsider whether or not you actually like it. In our new feature “In defense of.” Cadenza sets out to destroy the concept of the guilty pleasure. Our writers will air their now guiltless pleasures weekly for all to see and attempt to defend them in the public forum. In an attempt to engender a sense of artistic freedom across campus we encourage you to go to and join in the discussion on our message boards. Deride those who have derided others so often. Let us know that we’re a bunch of sniveling hacks not worthy of the moniker “clown shoes.” To kick things off some of Cadenza’s finest defend a few rotten oysters they feel may contain a pearl.

Despite being wildly popular among the younger crowd and generally considered the current “scene,” screamo is one of the most hated genres among college students, especially at Wash. U. The average Greek life clowns, who split their time between Dave Matthews Band while getting stoned and the latest track to feature Akon while rubbing up against their dance partners hoping they’re not too drunk to consent, hate screamo. Your average Eleven reviewer, who enjoys a good fist-pumping and hosts a radio show on KWUR playing everything from Mastodon to Yoko Ono, hates screamo. Virtually everyone you’ve met on this campus hates screamo, and they’re all wrong.

Granted, there’s a lot of bad screamo out there and I don’t suggest you listen to it. However, there’s a lot of bad music in all genres. If you’re into punk I wouldn’t suggest you go rush out and buy the latest Anti-Flag album. Nor would I recommend you go buy the latest by Mike Jones if you’re into hip-hop. Similarly, I would never in good conscience recommend purchasing an album by Hawthorne Heights because while they are definitely a screamo band they are also flat out bad.

I would recommend you go out and purchase any album by Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Chiodos, Pierce the Veil, blessthefall, Saosin or Senses Fail as bands like these incorporate the pop-infused intensity screamo is so incredible at providing. It does this by combining two unbelievably dissimilar genres, emo and metal, into one that harnesses some of the best aspects of each.

Emo, a genre also consistently ridiculed by college students, can easily be considered a specialized variety of pop. It’s generally written to garner repeated radio play and thus has hooks galore. While the lyrics are often trite and stupid, and about teenage relationships and break-ups, so are most pop lyrics and that’s why they are universal. Metal focuses more on instrumentation and is renowned, in particular, for its complex drum and guitar elements. It is also much “harder,” or rather, harsher, in its tone than most rock music and its lyrics focus, stereotypically, on elements of fantasy and science fiction. But really black and brutal fantasy and science fiction.

Screamo takes the harshness and, when at its best, the great instrumentals of metal and the lyrical content and hooks of emo to make an infectious new blend of pop that makes you both want to mosh and sing all while being awed by the skills of its instrument-playing members. It is for this reason that younger people get into it. They’re looking for pop-like anthems with intensity, and you should be as well. Concerts are meant to be an active experience, and I don’t mean that in the way of actively asking your friend to pass you the joint at the next String Cheese concert. Screamo shows are active, practically athletic, and screamo music makes you want to be more active in your listening experience. If you’re turned off by screamo kids’ style (tight clothing, eye make-up, long straight hair), get over it. Remember, college is the last time in your life when you can look any way you want with no repercussions. You probably forgot how fun it was to look strange in between purchasing your first pair of Birkenstocks and your newest North Face fleece.

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