An hour of emo for your summer listening, curated for you by DJ Punky
Be My End by Creeper
“Our last night on earth could be so cute”
Creeper is and will forever be to me the legends of the UK emo scene. This song, like their others, is a showcase of vocal talent and catchy guitar. Lyrical themes flirt with Satanism in a playful way, with the vocalist taking pride in his imperfection and finding beauty in chaos. I think of Creeper as the My Chemical Romance of WUSC, in other words, the very most essential band to non-top 40 emo. Any emo summer is not complete without the wonder that is Sex, Death, & The Infinite Void by Creeper.
Destroy Me by Salem
“Prom King and Queen at the Apathy Ball”
Will Gould, singer for Creeper, also has a side project called Salem. With two short albums, Salem and Salem II, the band follows lyrical content of Creeper, as is fitting considering the name of the band, with a more simplified musical content that is bass driven more than the heavily guitar centered Creeper. This song of theirs is the first one I ever heard, and from day one, I was hooked. The week after I found this song, it was literally the only thing I listened to. Probably my favorite emo band, Salem continues to put out music that I consider to be emo masterpieces, capturing the essence of the emo scene perfectly in their lyrics. If you like this tune, check out Fall Out Of Love and Throat by them for even more artful lyrical content with the same excitement of this tune.
Chasing California by Oh, Weatherly
“When your lips are just like oxygen / I have to breathe you in”
One of myself and DJ Grilt Cheez’s personal choices for easy and fun listening, Oh, Weatherly will certainly fit in with your summer. It’s very consistently quickly paced music, with fun lyrical themes, though admittedly I don’t always understand them myself. Either way, it’s fun to try to figure it out. On this song specifically, I like how the lyrics bounce back and forth between those of a typical love song and revealing that there seems to be more to the picture. Although I admittedly don’t know what any of that has to do with the lack of rain in California.
Apartment by Seaway
“All I wanna do is a whole lot of nothing with you / In your apartment on vacation forever”
Similar to why I like Oh, Weatherly’s lyrics so much, and in true emo fashion of being unnecessarily emotional and dramatic, the vocalist can’t seem to decide how he feels about this girl. However, all that being said, I really like the tune, along with the idea of wanting to spend forever with someone doing nothing because you enjoy them. Also a good sentiment for summer, when we have our own mini forever to spend with the people we love without some of the responsibilities of the school term. For those of you who are also students, I guess. For those of you who are real life grown adults, my condolences.
All The Same by Story Untold
“You’re a water gun in Russian roulette”
This song is absolutely scathing and I hope whoever did whatever they did to this man hears it because they have to deserve it based on what he’s saying. That being said, it can be a great addition to your summer, because even though the lyrics pack a punch, the music is still fun and driving, so it can be an enjoyable listen, as well as, of course, being an emo one. Also, if you’re mad at an ex or whoever you’re dating, this song can be surprisingly therapeutic. It’s one of my go-to’s when I’m in that headspace.
You Said by River Becomes Ocean
“Reminiscent are the scars”
River Becomes Ocean is probably the most pop of the pop punk bands I put on this playlist, but they’ve definitely earned their spot. This song is what I would imagine it would be like if Metro Station produced a pop punk song, and I love Metro Station and pop punk separately, so I’m sure you can imagine how I feel about that lovely intersection. If you liked early 2000s pop and also are an emo, like myself, you’ll absolutely love this one.
I Miss 2003 by As It Is
“Now life is boring, let's write a story where we never grow up / Still four in the morning
/ Singing New Found Glory at the top of our lungs / So tell me that you're alright, 'cause
I'm not okay / I left the best of me in 2003”
These lines have to be the absolute best description of an emo’s ideal world, and saying that you left the best of yourself in 2003 is absolutely iconic. As It Is is a lot like Waterparks, so it’s no surprise they went on tour together, but unlike Waterparks who focus on more personal events in their lyrics, I feel like they capture the spirit of being an emo in the early 2000s, which of course means I connect with their stuff. If you listen to my show, I’m sure you could imagine me literally saying these same words on my show. But if New Found Glory isn’t your thing, imagine staying up singing someone else at 4AM, and you’ll get the point. Nevertheless, a great tune for your summer listening. And what better opportunity to stay up way too late with the best of friends than 3 months with no class?
Antisocial War by Send Request
“Your life is full of misery / So please tell me what you’re fighting for in this never ending tragedy”
Send Request is much more of the Motionless In White variety of emo than the rest of the songs on this list, but I love this track. First of all, it can provide some variety to the monotony of the rest of the pop punk here, with a little more powerful and heavier tone, but it also is an empowering and strong song to add to the list. If you need something to just scream along to, this song is definitely the one out of the list to choose.
Head Above Water by Carry The Crown
“We all get broken hearted / Sometimes that’s how love started”
From the very first time I heard this song, I was enthralled. No matter what I do, I can’t get Carry the Crown out of my head for long. I see that as a good thing, but be warned that this band is catchy as can be. They’re a little Palisades-esque in some ways, but I honestly don’t think they’re just like any other band. In my opinion, they’re the kind of sound that every emo loves in pieces from other bands but all in one convenient package. If you like this song, try their song K A R M A, another banger. Again, though, it’ll never get out of your head. If you like epic background music and pretending you’re in a movie during everyday things like going to the grocery store, though, that could be a positive effect.
Clockwork by Makeout
“God I hope this doesn’t mean I’m growing up now”
I didn’t discover this Makeout song until very late in my time listening to them, for a long time my favorite by them was Home, which you should definitely try if you like this one, but it goes hard. It comes as no surprise, I’m sure, that this song fits the emo stereotype of complaining a little bit about the state of the vocalist’s life at the time. But, unlike some of their other songs, like Home, which tells the story of someone who is wallowing over the way their partner treated them, this song has a little bit of a hopeful thread running through it. So, if you’re looking for something truly emo without being just straight up depressing this summer, try this one.
Boyfriend by The Candescents
“We can go out if you’re desperate / Come on move on or die”
Definitely the lightest and most glittery track on this playlist, for lack of a better word, but Boyfriend by the Candescents is what I would consider to be the most indie you can get before it’s simply not pop punk anymore. If you’re looking for a sassy, slightly pop punk beach tune, this could be just what you’re looking for. I also love some of the confusing lyrics in this one, describing what the vocalist is and isn’t willing to do in this relationship that he very clearly makes certain isn’t a relationship, but I think the ambiguity is part of the point. I also think that saying “move on or die” is one of the most hilariously emo phrases I’ve heard in my years, so extra points for that.
Pretty When by A Step Ahead
“I’m broke but I can borrow the money to go out with you”
This one is probably the one that would hurt the most if it was written about you on the playlist. And that’s saying something up against the Story Untold pick. In this song, the vocalist is describing how sad he was that he couldn’t be with this girl romantically because she’s just the prettiest girl he’s ever seen. But then, when she ignores him for long enough and doesn’t want to be with him, she switches to saying that she used to be so pretty back then and he’s glad that they’re only friends because she’s such a jerk. That’s gotta hurt. To whoever this guy wrote this song about, if you’re reading this, I wish you the best recovery.
Hotel Beds by We Were Sharks
“Every song I’ve heard this week was written about you and me I think”
I don’t know if I’ve heard a more emo use of comparative language than “you’ve got me wrapped around your finger like a noose tied around my neck.” Though not my favorite lyric from the song, it’s a close second. This one is just a classic, hard hitting, pop punk song. It’s definitely a fun one, though, and like many of these songs, it’ll make a great addition to any summer playlist that even flirts with the idea of pop punk or generally rock. It’s one that I think both you and your dad will like, which isn’t always an easy thing to find.
See You Around by Sleep On It
“Life forgives if you play in time / But not for you if you think you’re mine”
If you’re more of a hardcore kid than emo but wandered onto this article because you were bored and this was the least terrible thing you could think of to do, you might like this one. A DJ Grilt Cheez original find, meaning it’s from a hardcore kid, this one isn’t quite the same emo as the rest of them. I tend to prefer the pop punk closer to pop rather than the stuff closer to indie or hardcore, but this one is pretty good. Obviously I like it if it made it on the playlist. One thing I really like about this one that can be hit or miss on emo for me is the really strong vocalist, who really drives the song. Even if this kind of thing isn’t your deal, it might be an exception for you, like it was for me. And why not try something new this summer?
Put The Knife Away by Goldfinger
“You say you changed, you stayed the same”
This track is certainly the most questionable as far as its belonging on the playlist, but honestly, I don’t care. It’s a hard hitter from pop punk/ska punk band Goldfinger, who DJ Angel Hair also likes, and it’s a surefire summer hit. Ska has always been a beach hit, and with this ska punk track, you get the best of both worlds, at least in my opinion. Definitely a good choice if you’re an emo planning to get out and get sunburned this summer. Also a great one for screaming in the car while you drive on your summer road trips, so two for the price of one.
Magnetic by Waterparks
“I’m magnetic to the things I hate the most”
Waterparks, whose presence on this playlist is no surprise to anyone who knows me, is sort of an anomaly when it comes to their emo presence. Their sound is most definitely pop punk, but their aesthetic is the opposite of dark and gloomy. That being said, I don’t care what their aesthetic is, I like them, and they’re a great addition to this playlist. This song in particular is driving and a great one to get some of your more mild frustrations out to. This entire album, Greatest Hits, is incredible, and don’t worry it’s not actually a greatest hits collection album, that’s just the name of it, and it’s my favorite of theirs thus far. As far as non top 40 goes, though, they likely won’t fit the bill much longer, so I’ll play them while I can.
Moving Boxes by With Confidence
“Hold it steady, cause we’re gonna set it all alight”
With Confidence is a band that definitely had to grow on me, but, man, did they ever. This one is the best for this playlist, but if you’re looking for a slower tune, try Paper. As for this track, though, it’s a raw and emotional one, with some of the most catchy guitar I’ve heard in a long time in a small pop punk band. Definitely worth the listen, and after a few times through, I’m sure you’ll find yourself singing along.
Painkiller Weather by Grayscale
“I thought that love was one thing you could spend as much of as you want / I guess not all at once”
Painkiller Weather is one of the sadder songs on this playlist, so if you’re having a down moment this summer, this one can help get you through it. But it has an upbeat enough tone that you don’t have to notice it’s sad if you don’t want to. Your mom might not like this song, though. When I played it on my show, mine texted to say the girl Madison in the song shouldn’t be doing heroin so much. I would say just don’t take advice from Grayscale on that front and you’re all good.
Coffee At Midnight by Stand Atlantic
“Tell me how to change your mind / Over coffee at midnight”
I think me and the vocalist for Stand Atlantic would get along since he’s asking this girl to chat with him over coffee at midnight. As a fellow caffeine addict, that sounds lovely to me. With a more Pierce the Veil esque vocal style, this might appeal to those traditional emos a little more. DJ Spin Cycle would be my pick for most likely to play this one on their show, other than myself of course.
I'm DJ Punky, the one and only host of It's Just A Phase, your teen music specialty show. I'm not a teen anymore, but I'm a little emo who never quite grew up. I'm also the Station Manager here at WUSC for the 2022-2023 term, so if you ever want to meet me, I'll be at our events! I'm a record collector, ironic dresser, industrial music lover, emo enthusiast, converse collector, piercing fanatic, and martial artist all wrapped up in a nice little HR major bundle. It's Just A Phase features music that's the stuff you know your parents wouldn't listen to. I've always loved weird music, the kind of stuff that mostly teenagers listen to and think they're edgy and unique for. My show is made up of music that, in some way, is about or essential to teens. If it inspired a teen movement, like glam metal, I'll play it. If it's a stereotypically teen sound, like pop punk, I'll play it. If it's something super weird and out there and I'm the only listener on Spotify, I'll play it. If it's emo, I'll definitely play it. My classic line when someone asks me to describe my show is "Imagine you walk into a teenager's bedroom and ask what they're listening to. If they'd tell you that you wouldn't understand, that's what I'll play." So if you're here for the weird, wacky, and wonderful, listen to It's Just A Phase.