There are certain periods of our lives we wish we could just forget. For many of us, middle school was exactly that. The bad haircuts, ironic t-shirts, braces and mirror selfies taken on digital cameras are enough to make you cringe.
However, those of us going through middle school in the early-mid 2000s were lucky enough to have a bountiful selection of emo tunes to carry us through those turbulent years. Although the “drama” you went through may seem trivial now, 13-year-old you wouldn’t have made it through without an iPod shuffle full of Panic! At the Disco and Green Day. So put on some more eyeliner and buckle up, because here are 21 of the best emo songs that are sure to bring up some serious middle school feels. (And, BTW, all of these “emo” songs weren’t necessarily emo by genre but they definitely were by sentiment.)
1. “Fall For You” by Secondhand Serenade
Whether or not you found yourself in the throes of romance at age 13, this song made every hormonal middle-schooler feel something. If you were crushing from afar or entering your first turbulent relationship, “Fall For You” made you realize that sometimes love could be pain.
2. “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance
Misunderstood middle schoolers flocked to My Chemical Romance like moths to a flame. This song was essentially the national anthem for emo teens in red skinny jeans, with a super-creepy video that made all of us feel pretty edgy for enjoying. The first piano note of this song has the power to trigger something visceral in anyone who was an MCR fan in their adolescence.
3. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day
The best part of being a middle-schooler in the early 2000s was seeing Green Day’s renaissance. Despite being young, we all felt we could relate to the loneliness that they were singing about. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” was like a lullaby for everyone who worshipped Green Day’s American Idiot album. Also, the dramatic title…
4. “Move Along” by The All-American Rejects
This song had the uplifting message that we could all make it through, despite how never-ending the seventh grade felt. The stop-motion video was just another component that made this song so great, plus who wouldn’t relate to a band called The All-American Rejects?
5. “Dark Blue” by Jack’s Mannequin
“Have you ever been alone in a crowded room?” C’mon. That lyric was written on every pair of converse, shared on every Tumblr and Picnik’d onto the photos of every #emo kid. Super emo and super relatable.
6. “The Great Escape” by Boys Like Girls
This song made you feel invincible. It was a call to action for every bored kid from the suburbs who felt like they were meant for something bigger.
7. “Face Down” by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
This song was definitely dark. Despite the fact that some of the thematic content went way over the head of its audience members, the intensity of it resonated with angsty youths everywhere. P.S. has anyone heard from Red Jumpsuit Apparatus since this song?
8. “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter
This one was a classic slow-dance at middle school dances and bar/bat mitzvahs. Its vagueness made it totally relatable to every kid who just straight-up had a bad day. While this is definitely a pop song, it was totally emo in attitude.
9. “Welcome to My Life” by Simple Plan
“Welcome to My Life” by Simple Plan is almost a caricature of an emo song. “Do you ever want to run away? Do you lock yourself in your room, with the radio on turned up so loud that no one hears you screaming?” This song is textbook emo. If you didn’t originally feel like wearing all black and hiding in your room, this song definitely made you want to.
10. “Collide” by Howie Day
Some emo songs make you want to scream and shout, but this one just made you want to sob over your middle-school equivalent of a glass of wine, which was obviously a Monster energy drink. (Or was that just me?)
“Even the best fall down sometimes. Even the wrong words seem to rhyme. Out of the doubt that fills my mind. I somehow find. You and I collide.” Is anyone else crying thinking about their sixth grade crush RN? Yeah, me neither, actually.
11. “Apologize” by OneRepublic
This song was great for coping with your first middle-school breakup. Slow and sad, it made you feel like you weren’t alone in dealing with someone who treated you poorly, like an ex or your super-lame parents.
12. “The Reason” by Hoobastank
This song is still a great throwback for bumping in the car with your friends that survived middle school with you. One thing you may have forgotten is the almost-absurd seriousness of the video, where his love interest (spoiler alert) gets hit by a car. Despite being super fun to belt along with, this song is intense.
13. “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol
“Would you lie with me and just forget the world?” Ugh. Talk about the ideal middle school romance. Everyone was looking for that special someone who they could lie around with and get away from the trials and tribulations of the eighth grade.
14. “How to Save a Life” by The Fray
Going on the theme of emo songs with vocalists that were nearly impossible to understand, “How To Save a Life” is a classic emo-pop-rock bop. This song started slow and quiet, but built up into an intense piano ballad. Plus, only a robot wouldn’t be moved by that one episode of Grey’s Anatomy where the cast sings this song.
15. “I Miss You” by Blink-182
“We’ll have Halloween on Christmas” was the emo lyric to end all emo lyrics. Tim Burton imagery in the lyrics of Blink-182 was almost too much for middle-school-you to handle. If this lyric wasn’t featured in one of your AIM profiles, you were never truly emo.
16. “Sugar We’re Going Down” by Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy are the undeniable kings of emo. Despite the lyrics being mostly indecipherable, this song still had a pretty obvious tone of apathy and bitterness. Plus, bassist Pete Wentz’s iconic guy-liner and black flippy hair made him the object of every middle school girl’s desire.
17. “I Hate Everything About You” by Three Days Grace
If there wasn’t one Three Days Grace song on your “Depressed” iTunes playlist, I’d be shocked. The song felt super hardcore and 100% summed up your feelings on that crush who you fawned over despite the fact that he totally treated you like crap and ignored you in the hallways. *Ugh* At least you had this song to decribe the feelz.
18. “Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off” by Panic! At The Disco
This list — much like your emo phase — would have been simply incomplete without some P!ATD. While this obviously isn’t their most famous song (“I Write Sins Not Tragedies” holds a special place in our heart), it was super emo. While you were most likely too young to be “exchanging body heat in the passenger seat,” you definitely felt something when younger-you first heard Brendon Urie whisper those lyrics.
19. “In the End” by Linkin Park
TBH, this song is a work of art. Lead singer, Chester Bennington (RIP) had one of those voices that could switch from a quiet melody to straight-up screaming in about 0.2 seconds. If this didn’t bump through your walkman on the bus to school at least once then you have never truly experienced the life of an ~emo kid~.
20. “Be My Escape” by Relient K
Who didn’t need an escape from their pre-teen years? This song was definitely more upbeat than emo, but the intent was there. “I am a hostage to my own humanity, self-detained and forced to live in this mess I’ve made?” Totally emo.
21. “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s
And of course, we had to feature “Hey There Delilah.” Whether you were too cool to admit it or not, every girl wanted to be Delilah. Who wouldn’t want to be the subject of a super beautiful song by an emo boy band? Kind of creepy fun fact: frontman Tom Higgenson wrote this song after meeting Delilah once. This song was also so great because it edged us out of the emo days and into our hipster years, but that’s a story for another time…