emo-core (1986)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Fri Aug 12 06:11:39 UTC 2005

The latest batch of OED entries includes "emo-core" (from 1992) and "emo"
(from 1993), denoting an emotionally charged post-punk musical style.
These first-cite dates are a bit late, since the bands first called
"emo(-core)" played in the mid-'80s (mostly on Washington, D.C.'s Dischord

Here's a Usenet antedating from 1986, though fanzines would no doubt take
it back another year or two...

mod.music.gaffa, "Dinosaurs trample the ground while insects burrow
down...", Nov 12, 1986
Still, there's alot more going for this than just that (as if it weren't
enuf, dudes) with some hard pop phrasing built around the heavily slagged
"Emo" (as in Emotional) Core lyrics which came into fruition with the
Rites Of Spring LP of last year.

The Wikipedia article on "emo" <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emo> is
frighteningly comprehensive. Among other things it describes the
attributive/adjectival usage of "emo" for people, clothes, haircuts, etc.
(apparently on the model of "punk" in its various uses). Here are Usenet
examples from 1994 describing fans of the music:

alt.music.hardcore, "hardcore, not punk", Feb 7, 1994
There are the north jersey emo brigade, mentioned in your note.
alt.music.hardcore, "why spitboy is annoying and why they headlined over
bands who are better than them", Apr 7, 1994
These guys were not little emo types either (except for one).
alt.music.hardcore, "emo fashion punks", Nov 26, 1994
i was just flipping through the latest heartattack and i was trying to
follow the continuing saga of kent mcclard vs the emo fashion punks.
alt.music.hardcore, "wait a minute... I thought this was a hardcore
newsgroup..", Dec 26, 1994
ok, ok, mr harder core than thou, what bands can i talk about on this
newsgroup? ... only bands that beat the shit out of indie rockers and emo
kids at their shows?

--Ben Zimmer

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