When did emo become cool again?

In January, Alex Gaskarth, the frontman of the band All Time Low, opened TikTok to discover thousands of videos with the hashtag #emophase made using “Dear Maria Count Me In,” a song his band released in 2007. A Domino’s pizza delivery man, the Youtuber Trisha Paytas and countless others looked into the camera and made the same joyful declaration: “Mom, it was never a phase. It’s a lifestyle!” before belting the song’s first line, written roughly 15 years prior. “It was a weird, shocking but also very welcome moment,” Gaskarth told me over Zoom last month. As a Millennial who rocked a pair of checkerboard Vans, agonized over my Myspace song choice and cried to My Chemical Romance in the early 2000s, I also found myself bewildered and delighted by a TikTok trend that has people professing their adoration for a style of music that went almost tragically out of fashion after its mainstream peak in 2010.

These “coming out” videos are just one trend in a tidal wave of 2000s, emo-pop themed content (#emophase has now accrued over 766.8M views on TikTok) which include music ID challenges with text that reads: “if you know all of these songs you’re the most damaged one in the family,” eyeliner-laden and side-swept-banged #scenequeen makeovers and tutorials on how to dress like a Hot Topic employee in 2005. The sudden spike in nostalgia for this somber genre makes sense in the midst of a global pandemic, since the quarantine lifestyle eerily echoes the teenage conditions that allowed the 2000s “scene” subculture to thrive in the first place. Coronavirus has stripped us of our freedoms and sentenced us to wallow in isolation in our homes, desperately searching for connection and community online like brooding adolescents without driver’s licenses.

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