If you were alive during the early 2000s, you probably got soaked by the decade’s tidal wave of emo bands. This genre of music was inescapable, blending punk and hardcore musicality with a pop mentality.
Of course, emo is best known for its fashion style, as it gave everyone a way to identify themselves. Tight pants, studded belts, bad haircuts, and facial makeup products were par for the course.
Want to relive the glory days? The following bands are some of the most popular to come from the genre.
My Chemical Romance
My Chemical Romance is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in the emo genre. Although they disagree with being emo, there’s no denying their fashion and lyrical content are pure emo.
The albums, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, and The Black Parade remain genre classics to this day. As of 2022, the band has embarked on a reunion tour, which has greatly pleased longtime fans.
Sunny Day Real Estate
Sunny Day Real Estate wasn’t exactly a popular band in the 2000s compared to other groups. However, their work in the 1990s laid the foundation for all of the emo music that was to come.
This group is one that music nerds especially love, although it might be because they aren’t exactly mainstream. Nevertheless, the group does seem to be more active than they have been in the past.
Even if you weren’t into emo, you are probably familiar with the song, Ohio Is For Lovers. If you were in high school and lived in Ohio at the time, the song became an anthem.
That was the song that truly put Hawthorne Heights on the map. It’s still referenced fairly frequently amongst emo music fans.
The Promise Ring
The Promise Ring is another one of those emo bands that are a bit more obscure. However, like Sunny Day Real Estate, The Promise Ring played a big role in forging the emo genre.
Most of The Promise Ring’s material did land in the 1990s, but they did have a release in 2002. The latter half of their catalog is influenced more by pop-punk elements.
If you have any friends who are emo fans, you’re probably no stranger to seeing a poster of The Used. It seems like any fan of the genre had one of their posters hanging up in their bedroom.
The Used is perhaps best known for being the musical home to vocalist, Bert McCracken. Their second album, In Love And Death, is one of the genre’s staple albums.
Paramore rose to the top of the genre when they broke into the mainstream in the early 2000s. This group is notable for having Hayley Williams as a vocalist, who can be readily identified by her red hair.
For nearly 2 decades, Paramore has been going strong with frequent album releases and subsequent tours. The album, Riot!, remains a favorite to this day.
Jimmy Eat World
Jimmy Eat World is an emo band that has more of a pop-punk sound compared to other groups. The band actually formed in the early 1990s and didn’t see mainstream success until almost a decade later.
It was their 4th album, Bleed American, that put the band on the radar of emo music fans. The band is still quite active and releasing new music as of 2022.
American Football is quite different than most other bands labeled as emo. This group has more of a melodic sound, augmented by math-rock musical elements.
Their self-titled album remains one of the most important releases in the history of the genre. However, you won’t really find that hardcore screaming style here, as you will with so many other groups.
The Get Up Kids
If you’re only into mainstream emo music, you might have missed out on The Get Up Kids. However, this group is considered extremely important to the formation of the emo genre as we know it today.
Many groups have been influenced by this band, including Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, and My Chemical Romance.
Cursive is a band that truly embodies the midwest emo sound of the early 2000s. This group is led by Tim Kasher, who plays guitar and handles the bulk of the songwriting.
Their album, The Ugly Organ, is a must-listen for anyone who’s curious about the genre. It truly is one of the better rock albums of that time period.
The name, mewithoutYou, is an enigma to the emo genre as a whole. This group is best known for its spoken word stylings and semi-religious thematic lyrics.
They might not have had the massive success of other bands on this list. However, any emo fan is likely familiar with the group’s music.
Thursday is one of the most recognizable bands within the emo genre, whether by name or by sound. This group helped to popularize the screaming vocal style, which eventually became widespread within the genre.
Their best-known album is probably War All The Time, which featured the smash-hit single, Signals Over The Air.
Say Anything is best known for being the band of Max Bemis, formed in the early 2000s. Their album, …Is A Real Boy, remains one of the staple records of the emo genre.
In fact, this album’s artwork is perhaps just as iconic as the music on the track listing. Anybody can easily recognize its tree branch with small offshoots.
Brand New is a very popular band in the emo genre, notable for the honest lyricism of Jesse Lacey. Their albums, Deja Entendu, and, The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me, are the highlights of their career.
Brand New continues to have a cult following to this day. However, Jesse Lacey’s sexual misconduct allegations did put a hamper on things.
Dashboard Confessional originally began as the solo project of Chris Carrabba. The project really started to gain traction during the Myspace days of social media.
By 2009, Dashboard Confessional saw the height of its career with the album release, After The Ending. The group is still quite active today and continues to embark on tours.
Taking Back Sunday
Taking Back Sunday is another popular name within the emo genre. This group really found its stride in 2006 when they made their major label debut with Warner Bros. Records.
Interestingly enough, Brand New’s Jesse Lacey was actually one of the founding members of the group. It’s hard to say exactly which group was more successful, as each was a household name.
Motion City Soundtrack
Motion City Soundtrack is another prominent name within the emo genre. This group was formed in 1997 and has more of a pop-punk influence in its sound.
People can easily identify this group due to vocalist, Justin Pierre’s signature hairstyle and sideburn combo. For a period of time, Motion City Soundtrack was a mainstay on the Vans Warped Tour.
Mae was never as popular as some of the other bands on this list. However, it wasn’t uncommon to see their name alongside many others on massive emo touring shows.
This was another group that benefitted greatly from the Myspace social media platform. The years 2006 and 2007 were undoubtedly the biggest years of Mae’s career.
Something Corporate had a bit of a short-lived timespan, though it was not without massive success. Between 1998 and 2002, the band eventually became a household name, ranking on pop charts and appearing on national television.
The group’s last album was released in 2003, which was received quite well. However, Something Corporate would officially be no more, despite a few reunions here and there.
The Spill Canvas
The Spill Canvas is perhaps most notable for their 2004 release, Sunsets & Car Crashes. This album was primarily acoustic, although it certainly wasn’t without its emo undertones.
Eventually, the group began to embrace more of an electric rock sound. Unfortunately, this change caused them to blend in with every other band within the emo genre at the time.
Circa Survive is a bit of a supergroup in terms of the emo genre. The band has members from other notable groups in the genre, including Saosin.
Because of this, it did not take long for Circa Survive to become a household name. By the end of the early 2000s, Circa Survive was frequently charting on the Billboard pop charts.
Jack’s Mannequin originally started out as the solo project of Something Corporate’s frontman, Andrew McMahon. Eventually, the project expanded into a full band as the name began to receive mainstream acclaim.
The debut 2005 album, Everything In Transit, remains a staple amongst fans of the emo genre. 2020 saw the group come back together to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the album’s release.
Bayside is another emo group that is heavily rooted in the sounds of punk rock. Since 2000, Bayside has been consistently releasing new material, with the earlier catalog being highly acclaimed.
As you might guess, the band has been quite prominent within the mainstream emo scene. They have been featured on the Vans Warped Tour on numerous occasions.
The Juliana Theory
Some of the most successful ventures in the music industry often begin as a joke. That statement can certainly be applied to The Juliana Theory.
While their career as a band was relatively short, The Juliana Theory quickly rose to success. It wasn’t an uncommon sight to see their name amidst many other groups on the bill of large touring shows.
When non-emo fans hear the word Finch, they likely think of the innocent-looking bird. However, those people would be rudely awakened if they were expecting the band Finch’s sound to be similar.
Finch was one of the bands that really pushed the hardcore element into the emo genre. Screaming vocals were par for the course for much of the band’s material.
The All-American Rejects
The All-American Rejects is one of the biggest names in the emo genre, and also one of the best-selling. It isn’t often that a band’s debut album becomes a Platinum-certified release.
This group remains an ever-constant presence within the emo genre. They continue to release new music on a semi-frequent basis, ensuring that emo stays alive forever.
Thrice isn’t typically considered to be an emo band. In fact, fans of the group would likely object to this sort of label.
However, much of the band’s hardcore sound does have elements of emo music at play. Plus, the group was inspired to get back together after seeing Brand New perform.
Compared to other groups in the genre, Yellowcard had an impressively long and successful stint as a band. This band has more of a pop-punk sound, although their violin player sets them apart from other groups.
The early 2000s were undoubtedly the most successful years for Yellowcard. However, the band did continue on with a large following until their breakup in 2017.
Armor For Sleep
Armor For Sleep was another prominent emo band in the early 2000s. However, this group never really had a colossal hit like other bands did.
Regardless, they did manage to land a track on the cult classic film, Snakes On A Plane. The group has also been featured on many Vans Warped Tour lineups throughout the years.
Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy is one of the groups that really made emo a mainstream genre. It’s also one of the rare instances where a bass player became the heartthrob of teenage girls nationwide.
Their album, From Under The Cork Tree, is a classic within the genre and helped cement the band’s royalty status. This album featured the hits, Dance, Dance, and Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down.
Cute Is What We Aim For
Cute Is What We Aim For is an interesting group. Despite only having 2 album releases, the band is widely known amongst emo fans.
This is another band that massively benefited from having a presence on the Myspace social media platform. Their initial demo releases helped gain enough attention to cause their debut release to land on the Billboard charts.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
With a name like The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, you would almost expect a meteoric rise to success. That very thing happened with the group’s debut album, Don’t You Fake It.
All of the singles released from that album managed to perform quite well amongst mainstream audiences. Unfortunately, the band’s success has never been quite as large, despite still being active today.
All Time Low
All Time Low is one of the most recognizable names within the emo genre. This group was almost destined to become a household name, taking inspiration from emo groups that came before it.
The band has more of a pop-punk sound compared to other bands. This accessibility has ultimately allowed them to have a massive fan base due to the result of constant touring.
Senses Fail is another giant within the genre, most notably known for its hardcore sound and screaming vocals. The band quickly found success and has been featured on the Vans Warped Tour on multiple occasions.
While Senses Fail’s success was heightened during the early 2000s, they are still quite active today. The band has undergone many lineup changes, although this has added some fresh dimensions to each release.
New Found Glory
New Found Glory is perhaps one of the most recognizable band names of the last 20 years. While this band has been labeled emo, they have a very potent pop-punk sound.
In fact, you could almost put this group on a playlist with Blink-182 and there wouldn’t be an issue. Those who are into this band tend to be die-hard and dedicated fans.
Underoath is a well-known group that originally embraced elements of Christianity. This wasn’t exactly unheard of, as there were other emo groups of similar ilk in the early 2000s.
The band has more of an aggressive edge to their sound, incorporating multiple vocalists. Underoath’s drummer tends to be handling the melodic, non-screaming vocals, which is quite unique for any genre of music.
Saosin is yet another emo group that gained massive popularity through the Myspace social media platform. Their debut EP alone managed to sell over 60,000 copies, which is almost unheard of.
This band has been a prominent name on lineups such as the Taste Of Chaos and the Vans Warped Tour. Their debut album remains a classic and is easily identifiable with its beetle cover.
If you lived in the Midwest USA during the early 2000s, you likely witnessed the meteoric rise of Chiodos. The group’s first 2 albums have become iconic releases within the emo genre.
Their first album, All’s Well That Ends Well, managed to reach within the top 5 positions of the Billboard charts.
From First To Last
From First To Last is a band that truly had an underground following within the emo community. This band had plenty of screaming vocals, which fit nicely alongside other similar bands of its time.
The band was featured throughout several iterations of the Vans Warped Tour of the early 2000s.
Straylight Run is a band that saw instant success due to the familial link to Taking Back Sunday. Their debut album did rank as one of the best of 2004 according to the Billboard charts.
The band has been fairly inactive throughout the years, although they did reunite to perform in 2021.
Silverstein is a Canadian band that has had quite a bit of success over their career spanning over 2 decades. In fact, their 2021 album received a nomination as one of the best of the year in the Juno awards.
Top Emo Bands Of The 2000s, Final Thoughts
As you can see, there is an endless supply of emo bands that were quite prominent in the early 2000s. While this list might have been exhaustive, there are many bands that didn’t make the list.
Nevertheless, it’s a guarantee you’re still listening to these bands if you’re a die-hard emo fan. Regardless of what your mother might have said, it wasn’t just a phase after all.