What Happened To ’00s Emo Idols?

Oceane is 30 years old. When she was a teenager, she swore by the American rock group My Chemical Romance, with her “very dark atmosphere, its electric guitars, its gothic visual identity”. Like many, she struggled six hours in line to be the best placed at their concert at the Élysée Montmartre in 2007. Élodie, she loved Tokio Hotel in college. It was “costs”at the time. Above all, she loved that the long-haired blond singer showed a will “to shake up the codes of male idols”. Esteban, still a fan of Avril Lavigne today, loved the fact that, in the 2000s, she stood out from other pop stars.

At the time, these bands that hit the charts were the leaders of teenagers who were called a tad “emos”, “gothics”. And today, they are far from having disappeared: this month, Placebo returns with a new album. A year ago, it was Evanescence, Kyo or Avril Lavigne. And if they continue to release albums, it is because they still fill concert halls: a Zénith de Paris for Avril Lavigne is almost 7,000 seats. We are far from the two Bercys that Tokio Hotel did in 2008 but all the same, the group will play at the Olympia (2,000 seats) in May 2023. Placebo’s French tour is also filling up well. Even better: the “old school” rock band is in the top 40 of the most airplayed artists right now. Their new album is a real commercial challenge. Behind the scenes, we are also told that there is a new radio craze for this type of music.

“The whole point of these groups is to keep a young audience”explains Éric Jean-Jean, music journalist and author of several books. This is what Élodie confirms: if she listened to Tokio Hotel a few years ago, it was because the German group corresponded perfectly to this period of adolescence when you only seek to emancipate yourself and to screaming the chorus of “Schrei!”, one of their biggest hits (yes, that’s for sure, you remember that). Océane admits that she appreciated the “very strong melancholic side” songs from My Chemical Romance thanks to this “rage” who accompanied him on a daily basis. This difficult passage of adolescence, Placebo also put it in song in 1996 with the title “The teenage crisis» : “Since I was born I started wasting away / Now nothing ever, ever goes my way.”

In “Dead!”, My Chemical Romance wonders: “Wouldn’t it be great if we were dead?” Like Billie Eilish who today evokes her worst torments in her songs, the groups of the time addressed a disillusioned youth filled with “darkness”. “I just turned 42 and I still have the same fascination for this pivotal moment in life, for what adolescence and early adulthood is like,” confided the singer of Kyo Benoit Poher in an interview.

Young people have gone to the hip-hop side of the force

Except that today, neither rock nor emo pop have the wind in their sails. Difficult for groups of this kind to find a place in the hearts of teenagers, past “on the hip-hop side of the force,” recalls Éric Jean-Jean. Yesterday’s rebels no longer listen to rock but to urban music. In their ears, it is no longer Limp Bizkit or Blink-182 but rather JUL and SCH. French rap and urban music productions represent more than half of the 200 best-selling albums in 2021, according to the latest SNEP report. In the top 10, five are rappers. Above all, it’s no longer a surprise for anyone: rap, hip-hop and RnB are the number 1 musical genres for people under 25. “Today, it’s corny to say that you like Evanescence, Kyo or Dépêche Mode when you’re a teenager”explains the journalist.

And the teenagers of twenty years ago, who pogot in the concerts of My Chemical Romance, today have grown up well: “When you were mad about Placebo at 15 or 16, when you made your hair black and you put pencil around your eyes, today you are married, you have two kids, an SUV… It’s complicated to follow the deliriumemphasizes Eric Jean-Jean. Still, some followed them. Esteban does not care and tells anyone who will listen that he constantly listens to Avril Lavigne and that his tickets for his future concert are stored in his drawer.

Elsa, she is 30 years old and already has her tickets for the Tokio Hotel concert at the Olympia next May. She never really stopped listening to My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy or Green Day, which were ubiquitous in her ears during her college years: “I like to see how they evolve. It always makes me a thing to go to their concerts with my girlfriends, like before. To feel this vibration that I had when I was younger.”

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She completely assumes to listen to Tokio Hotel again. Nerdy, listening to 2000s rock? “I do not care at all. Already at the time, when you listened to Tokio Hotel, it was not necessarily well seen”she remembers. “We were made fun of, we were considered groupies.” Not resentful for a penny, she invites everyone to listen to their titles today. “Sometimes when I put this at home without telling my husband, he asks me what it is because he likes it.” And touch.

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