Did any genre devolve faster than emo? While the name of a particular style or subculture of music tends to be little more than a shortcut creating by marketing executives, it still seems like emo went from hot new thing that all the kids loved to an overexposed mess in the span of about six months. Like many rock style shifts before it (grunge, nü-metal), it quickly became less about what the music sounded like and more about fashion, sex and excess. As Mark Arm said in 1992, "It's so overblown."
But that doesn't mean there aren't great emo albums. In fact, one of the finest and most overlooked records of the decade came out two years ago today and aimed to put emo up on a pedestal and also kick it in the head. Say Anything's In Defense of the Genre has often been described as the 21st century version of Guns N' Roses epic double album Use Your Illusion, and that's not necessarily inaccurate. Spread across two discs, it takes basic pop-punk songs and puts them through a rigorous morphing process, dropping in bits of electronic dance music, metal, folk and straight pop. The common thread is frontman Max Bemis' delightfully maladjusted vocals and lyrics that plunge the depths of his bi-polar psyche.
Say Anything have a new album coming out on November 3 (which features the awesome single and video "Hate Everyone"), but In Defense of the Genre remains their unique masterpiece. The first single from that album, the pulsating "Baby Girl, I'm a Blur," is a fantastically strange song that was a hit anyway.