Written by Alex Lopez
Trial and Error Collective is pleased to present a very special winter’s tale and playlist: How The Middle-Aged Emo Stole Christmas! T&E writer Alex Lopez is simultaneously spreading holiday cheer and reflecting on the current wave of scene nostalgia, as he shares a light-hearted story and some of his favorite songs for the holiday season to remind us of the true spirit of Christmas, and also the true spirit of 00's emo. Make yourself cozy and enjoy!
Last year, I realized that Christmas emo is probably the most honest subgenre of Christmas music out there. The season can be jolly, but it can also be stressful! It can make you angsty and moody! And major corporations shamelessly commodify the holidays in the name of consumerism! 2000s emo has also enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years, and aesthetically, it can be a nice break from the saccharine Hallmark-Channel-commercial pop that normally gets played ad infinitum around the holiday season. Christmas emo is a good thing. I’m a fan.
But much like how the true meaning of Christmas can get lost in consumerism and the madness of holiday shopping, I feel like the true meaning of emo is getting lost in this current wave of scene nostalgia. Emos from the 2000s are now in their thirties and forties, and the music and culture of our youth is also now being shamelessly commodified and regurgitated to us by DJ nights, social media influencers, major festivals, and anyone else trying to make a quick buck, because capitalizing off millennial nostalgia is easier than shooting fish in a barrel. And while there’s nothing wrong with listening to this music for fond memories (or any reason, really), it’s important to remember that the scene was also rife with misogyny, undiagnosed mental health issues, unresolved traumas, and borderline-at-minimum substance abuse. Much of this music was made as a result of issues like these, and plenty of songs from that era sound like a cry for help in retrospect. It’s important to not dwell in this nostalgia for too long if you’ve ever experienced any of these issues in your life, because you might run the risk of falling back into old patterns or dwelling in these same issues and never healing or moving on from them - especially when you’re spending an entire week somewhere where you spent a lot of time as a teenager, like… back at your parents’ house. You know, like you would for the holidays.
So without further ado, strike up the fireplace, spike your eggnog, put on your best eyeliner, gather the family around, and please enjoy a very special Trial and Error Collective Winter’s Tale and Playlist: How The Middle-Aged Emo Stole Christmas.
How The Middle-Aged Emo Stole Christmas
Every Normie on Earth Liked Christmas a lot...
But the Middle-Aged Emo most definitely Did NOT!
The Emo hated Christmas! Especially Christmas Music!
Now, please don't ask why, but he just can’t refuse it.
It could have been from growing up with his very religious mom,
Who, every Christmas, would blast Celine Dion.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
Was that the holidays are too commercialized, and he had spent hundreds of dollars at the mall.
Whatever the reason, his mom or consumerists,
He stood there sulking on Christmas Eve, wrapping these fucking gifts.
Staring down from his old bedroom at his parents’ house,
Back in his hometown that made him a grouch.
Unresolved parental traumas made him feel grumpin’,
along with memories of his girlfriends from high school, who dumped him.
"The season makes me angsty!" he snarled with a sneer,
"I’m spending the whole week and I hate it here!"
Then he growled browsing Instagram, feeling more stressful,
"I’m single in my thirties, and everyone else is more successful!"
His ex-girlfriends are all married! They bought houses! They have kids!
They’re dressed up in matching sweaters! They’re all happy without him!
And tomorrow he and his friends would go bar hopping in a blink.
And they'd drink! And they'd drink! And they'd DRINK! DRINK! DRINK! DRINK!
They would feast on Who-Jameson, and snort rare Who-coke,
And complain about taxes and how life’s one big joke!
And THEN he’d go home to what he liked least of all:
His lame boomer parents, and then the neighbors would call,
And they’d all sit down for dinner. Mom would throw on Celine,
And for three goddamn hours, he’d hear Celine Dion sing!
She'd sing! And she'd sing! And she'd SING! SING! SING! SING!
And the more the Emo thought of the voice of Celine,
The more the Emo thought, "I must stop this whole thing!"
"Why, for thirty-five years I've put up with it now!"
"I MUST stop this Christmas music from coming… But HOW?"
Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
THE EMO GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!
"I know just what to do!," the Emo laughed in his bed,
As he opened his laptop and opened the web.
And he chuckled, and clucked, "This is gonna be fun!"
"I’ll return all these gifts I bought, and buy tickets to When We Were Young!"
He went down to the living room and went to the tree,
grabbed all of his gifts and gladly with glee,
put them all back in the trunk of his car.
“Who needs all this crap? They all take it too far!”
“Capitalism screws us over all year long,
and we’re duped to spend more money in December! It’s wrong!”
“And I’m here, aren’t I? What does my family need more?
The true meaning of Christmas doesn’t come from a store!
This is why I’m glad I spent my youth in the scene!
This is why I spend my money on experiences, not things!
It's why I show up to each and every Emo Nite,
And scream my lungs out to the songs that made me feel alive!”
"Pooh Pooh to the corporations!" he was grinchishly humming.
"They're about to find out that no Christmas is coming!"
"When I go back home, I’ll dig out the receipts,
Then I’ll return all this crap and I can be at peace!"
He thought about his mom, she was practically a nun.
Growing up, it felt like he wasn’t allowed to have fun.
Did that stop the Emo? No! The Emo simply said,
"I’ll live life on my terms and won’t listen to them!"
“Living at home was really the worst.
I’m glad I’m not like my parents and I don’t go to church!”
“They were always so boring, they’d never spend time with friends!
I never want to be a damn normie like them!”
Then the Emo thought back and remembered his old flames,
The ones who were now married after playing him like a game.
He learned the hard way that it’s true and not funny,
Girls don’t like boys, they really do just like cars and money.
But his life has been good! He stayed true to his friends!
So let’s buy another round! Why should all the fun end?
And hey, besides, if it wasn’t right,
Then they wouldn’t keep putting on Emo Nite!
There’s one every month, and he’s there for each one!
“Society can’t tell me I’m too old to have fun!”
“And society sucks! It’s full of so many ills.
They just tell you to shut up and take your pills,
And be like the rest! And always be the best!
And if you disagree with their rules, the mob will come for your head!”
“I tried dressing like a normie once, but that’s not who I am!
I was born to wear band t-shirts and checkered Vans!”
Then he slunk to his Instagram. He looked through his feed.
“Thank god I can follow other people like me!”
Then the emo looked up travel sites as quick as a flash.
Why, that Emo even looked up where to find Vegas’ best hash!
He screamed out, “MERRY CHRISTMAS, WORLD! KISS MY ASS!”
"And NOW," grinned the Emo, "I will go buy my pass."
“The lineup is killer, and wait, what’s that?
All the bands are each playing one classic album front to back!”
“I have so many memories of drinking and smoking dope
in parking lots to ‘They’re Only Chasing Safety’ by Underoath.
And hitting on girls and trying to score,
by lying and pretending I also liked Dashboard.”
He thought about skateboarding to “Page Avenue” by Story
of the Year, and “Sticks and Stones” by New Found Glory.
He thought about all his backseat makeout sessions with girls,
to the sounds of “Bleed American” by Jimmy Eat World.
Same goes for the debut album from the All-American Rejects,
and The Used’s legendary “In Love and Death.”
He couldn’t think of anything he’d like to hear more,
Than Coheed playing “Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV.”
And Dance Gavin Dance will bring out “Mothership!”
And who doesn’t love A Day to Remember’s “Homesick?”
But My Chemical Romance will be the highlight of the day!
They’re playing the entirety of “The Black Parade!”
"That's a noise," grinned the Emo, "That I simply MUST hear!"
He reminisced back to seeing them on Warped Tours of yesteryear,
For just 30 dollars and a donated can of food…
“BUT NOW THESE HOTEL PACKAGES START AT $700?? WHAT THE FUCK, DUDE?!”
“And then another 500 bucks for the flight?
Then food, drinks, and merch? Nah, this can’t be right!”
He stared down at the screen!
The Emo popped his eyes!
He shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
He'd be spending more money at When We Were Young,
Than for the presents he had bought for all of his loved ones!
He realized right there that emo nostalgia is lame!
Somehow or other, they screw you just the same!
And the Emo closed his browser and walked out into the snow,
And stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?"
"I’m sick. I feel like I have fibromyalgia!"
"Corporations are capitalizing off millennial nostalgia!"
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Emo thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas, AND the Emo Revival," he thought, "both exploit you."
"Maybe Emo...perhaps...is over-commercialized, too!"
And what happened then? Well...in his hometown they say,
That the Middle-Aged Emo stopped being a completely insufferable prick that day!
He re-opened his laptop and signed up for therapy!
He stopped basing his identity off the music of his teens!
He stopped dwelling in the past! He apologized for being cross!
Then he brought back the gifts from his car, came back inside, and grabbed the aux!
He played Wham! Kurt Vile! Wolf Alice! NSYNC!
Kacey Musgraves with Lana! Even a religious song from Flyleaf!
And he discovered he loved the classics when he put Duke Ellington on.
(But he still drew the line at Celine Dion.)
MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!!!
Stream the full playlist: