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55 Best Emo Songs of All Time (Classic Emo Anthems)

December 7, 2023
best emo songs

I’ve carefully picked out the best emo songs of all time, a collection that encapsulates the heart and soul of classic emo anthems.

This article is a journey through the emotionally charged, introspective tracks that have defined the emo music scene.

Table of Contents

Top Emo songs of all time

  • “Helena” by My Chemical Romance
  • “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” by Fall Out Boy
  • “All I Wanted” by Paramore
  • “Cute Without The ‘E’” by Taking Back Sunday
  • “Ohio Is For Lovers” by Hawthorne Heights
  • “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” by My Chemical Romance
  • “Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t” by Brand New
  • “Lover I Don’t Have To Love” by Bright Eyes
  • “Sweetness” by Jimmy Eat World
  • “The Futile” by Say Anything

1. “Helena” by My Chemical Romance

Is there a better way to start than with the most iconic emo band

My Chemical Romance is a band responsible for some of the best emo songs of the 2000s.

And “Helena” is arguably the most memorable track from their album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge.

It’s a song about love and loss, inspired by the death of lead singer Gerard Way’s grandmother, Elena Lee Rush.

“Helena” is also the last song they performed live before splitting up, which makes it even more special.

2. “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” by Fall Out Boy

“Sugar, We’re Goin Down” is one of the most popular rock emo songs from the 2000s.

It was released as the lead single from Fall Out Boy’s second album, From Under the Cork Tree, and became their first top-10 hit.

Lyrically, it’s about fighting for something that matters to you, even though failure seems inevitable.

But it’s also a song about love, and if you grew up in the 90s, Fall Out Boy probably helped you get through some first love-related hardships.

3. “All I Wanted” by Paramore 

All I Wanted” is a sad emo song that brings back memories.

It was released in 2008, on Paramore’s third studio album Brand New Eyes.

The song starts as a tender, melancholic ballad, and it slowly transforms into a powerful and emotional rock tune.

And Hayley Williams’ voice, as always, fits the song perfectly. 

4. “Cute Without The ‘E’” by Taking Back Sunday 

“Cute Without The ‘E’” is one of those classic emo songs full of guitar riffs and angsty, youthful vibes.

But Taking Back Sunday’s signature song manages to capture the essence of confused and overwhelming emotions.

The lyrics are based on the band’s Adam Lazzara personal experiences.

In one of the interviews, Lazzara said he got the idea for the song right after getting out of a relationship.

5. “Ohio Is For Lovers” by Hawthorne Heights

Released in 2004, “Ohio Is For Lovers” became one of the best 2000s emo songs.

It’s energetic and catchy, and it brought the band popularity after getting airplay on MTV.

The song depicts uneasy feelings of fear and longing, and it does that in a very emo-like way.

That being said, it’s no wonder some people refer to Hawthorne Heights’ signature song as an emo anthem.

6. “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” by My Chemical Romance

Another emo anthem that withstands the test of time is “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” by My Chemical Romance.

This tune is probably a part of every emo playlist – and that comes as no surprise.

The song has been certified Platinum by RIAA, and it helped the band gather many new fans.

Moreover, “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” reflects the spirit of the mid-00s emo music perfectly. 

It’s intense and straightforward, both lyrically and musically.

7. “Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t” by Brand New

On the other hand, Brand New’s 2003 track is slow-paced and calming, at least in the beginning.

And the song grows into an explosion of emotions and sounds.

So, Brand New will put you on an emotional roller coaster ride – but it will be a great one.

And as the lyrics say:

I hope this song starts a craze

The kind of song that ignites the airwaves

The kind of song that makes people glad

To be where they are.

8. “Lover I Don’t Have To Love” by Bright Eyes 

“Lover I Don’t Have To Love” was released in 2002, and it sounds just as good now as it did back then.

Conor Oberst’s unforgettable voice fits the devastating atmosphere of the song perfectly.

And although Bright Eyes are categorized as indie rock, this tune is by far one of the top emo songs of the 2000s.

9. “Sweetness” by Jimmy Eat World 

“Sweetness” is an upbeat emo rock song from Jimmy Eat World’s album Bleed American.

It’s one of those songs that will make you want to jump and cry at the same time.

The song is also very catchy, and that’s why it’s still a part of every essential emo music playlist.

I was spinning free (whoa oh-oh-oh-oh)

With a little sweet and simple numbing me.

10. “The Futile” by Say Anything 

If you’re feeling angry and you need to blow some steam off, listening to “The Futile” might be helpful.

Say Anything’s 2004 track starts is upbeat and catchy.

But the lyrics are the best part of it – at times, they don’t make sense, and that’s what the song is all about.

And when you feel everything is futile, listening to relatable songs might be the only thing that makes sense.

11. “’Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off” by Panic! At The Disco

Panic! At The Disco is known for making catchy and somewhat vengeful emo songs.

And this is hands down one of their best-known songs.

The song’s title is also quite iconic, and it’s taken from the dialogue from the 2004 film Closer

The line is spoken by Natalie Portman’s character Alice, and it ends with: ‘but it’s better if you do’, which is a title of another Panic! At The Disco song.

12. “The Taste Of Ink” by The Used 

“The Taste Of Ink” is another famous emo song from the early 2000s.

It’s the debut single from the band’s self-titled album The Used

And it has everything a good pop punk emo song should have – intense vocals, guitar-driven melodies, and a lot of emotions.

So here I am, it’s in my hand

And I’ll savor every moment of this…

13. “Fences” by Paramore

There are so many memorable Paramore songs we want to mention.

But there’s something about “Fences” that makes us nostalgic for 2000s emo music.

In fact, their whole album Riot! is such a great throwback – it’s hands down one of the best emo rock albums of the decade.

14. “Face Down” by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Another youthful emo song that will remind you of your high school or college days is “Face Down” by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.

Although it has an upbeat tempo, the song talks about domestic abuse.

The music video also depicts this important topic – it shows a young woman who examines the bruises on her body that she associates with her boyfriend.

“Face Down” was a big hit when it came out, and it climbed the charts in the US.

15. “The Kill (Bury Me)” by Thirty Seconds To Mars 

A song that tied “Face Down” as the longest running song on the Modern Rock Tracks is “The Kill (Bury Me)” by Thirty Seconds To Mars. 

“The Kill (Bury Me)” is the highlight of their album Beautiful Lie, and it remains one of the band’s most recognizable songs.

It’s captivating and intense, and it conveys an important message.

Jared Leto said that it’s about confronting your fear and confronting the truth about who you are.

16. “Transatlanticism” by Death Cab For Cutie 

Death Cab For Cutie is not a typical emo band, but some of their songs have pure emo music elements.

Transatlanticism” is a good example – the song starts as a gentle indie ballad, but it evolves into a guitar-driven tune.

With Ben Gibbard’s mesmerizing vocals, thoughtful lyrics, and a powerful build-up, “Transatlanticism” definitely deserves all the attention it can get. 

17. “You Couldn’t Teach Me Integrity” by Crywank

Another alternative song you should add to your emo playlist is “You Couldn’t Teach Me Integrity” by Crywank.

The song is very short and simple but impactful. 

And you can feel the raw emotion in the singer’s voice – he expresses the uneasy, struggling emotions in such an effective way.

18. “You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison?” by My Chemical Romance 

“You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison?” is another emo song by My Chemical Romance we can’t skip.

It’s taken from their popular album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge.

The story is told from the perspective of a felon who battles with mental health problems.

The protagonist’s experience in prison is described in a very vivid and emotional way, and you can really feel everything, which is common for MCR’s music.

19. “Tibetan Pop Stars” by Hop Along 

If you’re looking for emo breakup songs, this one’s for you. 

Hop Along’s “Tibetan Pop Stars” talks about the aftermath of a break up in an emotional and painful way.

The song also portrays the difficulty of letting go and finally moving on.

20. “The Recluse” by Cursive

“The Recluse” is an alternative rock song with emo elements.

It’s emotional and a bit somber, but it’s also somehow very soothing.

It’s one of those songs that will allow your mind to wander off.

Lyrically, it’s a song about feeling lost in life – whether it’s because of loneliness, regret, or self-doubt. 

21. “Understanding In A Car Crash” by Thursday

“Understanding In A Car Crash” is one of the good emo songs to listen to if you’re feeling a bit angry.

The song is bitter but at the same time emotional and even a bit dreamy.

All in all, if you’re making an emocore playlist, you should definitely include Thursday.

Thursday is regarded as one of the most influential post-hardcore bands of the 2000s.

22. “That’s What You Get” by Paramore 

“That’s What You Get” is arguably one of the most iconic emo songs from 2007.

It’s another track from Paramore’s album Riot!, and it’s the band’s signature song and one of the biggest hits to date.

In essence, “That’s What You Get” is a love song – it talks about what could happen if you let your heart lead you.

That being said, the lyrics could be based on a broken or a turbulent relationship.

23. “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World 

Another Jimmy Eat World song you should add to your top emo songs playlist is “The Middle.”

The song was written after the band had been dropped from Capitol Records following the release of their previous album.

So, the band decided to self-finance their next album, Bleeding American, and the album’s second single“The Middle” turned out to be their breakthrough song.

And the song’s lyrics depict these challenging times, especially in the verse: Hey, don’t write yourself off yet, It’s only in your head, you feel left out.

24. “Dirty Little Secret” by The All-American Rejects 

Even though it’s uplifting and energetic, “Dirty Little Secret” often appears on the top emo songs lists.

Well, the song was a big hit in the mid-2000s, and it still sounds great.

Lyrically, it’s about infidelity – and it’s written from the perspective of the person who cheats.

But the band’s Tyson Ritten and Nick Wheeler admitted that the story isn’t real – they were both in steady relationships at a time.

25. “In Circles” by Sunny Day Real Estate 

“In Circles” is one of the best emo songs of the 90s.

Sunny Day Real Estate were one of the early bands in the Midwest emo scene, so they had a lot of influence on the genre.

And their debut album Diary is considered to be a defining emo album of the genre, and it can often be found on best-of emo album lists. 

All things considered, it’s fair to say that “In Circles” is one of the most influential emo songs of all time.

26. “A Picture Postcard” by The Promise Ring 

“A Picture Postcard” is slow and gentle in the beginning, but then it becomes clear why it’s described as one of the best sad emo songs.

The Promise Ring is associated with the second wave of emo, and their impact on the emo scene is undeniable.

However, the band broke up in 2002 (if you don’t count the reunion shows), after shifting to a pop sound with their studio album.

Nevertheless, their songs like “A Picture Postcard” are regarded as emo classics.

27. “Letters To You” by Finch

Can’t you see, that I want to be there with open arms?

It’s empty tonight and I’m all alone,

Get me through this one.

Loud guitars, lyrics about loneliness, and youthful vocals… “Letters To You” has got it all.

And Finch is a post-hardcore band that certainly made an impact on the American emo music scene. 

Their songs like “Letters To You” climbed the charts in the UK too.

28. “MakeDamnSure” by Taking Back Sunday

The moment you see Taking Back Sunday’s music video for “MakeDamnSure”, you know you’re about to hear a classic emo song.

The frontman’s haircut is only one of the hints.

Nevertheless, “MakeDamnSure” is a very catchy and memorable song, and it’s a staple on any throwback songs playlist.

Moreover, it’s the band’s most successful song, selling over 900,000 copies.

29. “Juneau” by Funeral For A Friend

“Juneau” is the first song that Funeral For A Friend’s vocalist Matt Davies ever wrote.

And it became one of the band’s best-known songs and highest charting single to date.

The original version of “Juneau” was titled “Juno”, and the newer version features more ‘screaming’ vocals – and we’re glad it does.

It’s a rather sad emo song, especially if you pay attention to the lyrics. 

30. “Dark Blue” by Jack’s Mannequin

And Jack’s Mannequin’s “Dark Blue” at first sounds like a cheerful tune.

However, when the heartbreaking vocals and guitars kick in, things take a different turn.

Nevertheless, the song is still less angry or sad than most of the songs on this list.

Despite the somewhat somber lyrics (they talk about feeling lost in a relationship), “Dark Blue” actually sounds kind of hopeful.

31. “Nobody’s Home” by Avril Lavigne 

Although she is known to younger generations as a pop-punk star, Avril Lavigne wrote her share of emo-inspired songs.

“Nobody’s Home” is a great example – it’s an emotionally intense rock track with lyrics about feeling broken inside. 

She released it on her second studio album, Under My Skin

32. “American Hearts” by Piebald 

“American Hearts” is an angry yet energetic and upbeat emo song.

It’s taken from Piebald’s album Piebald, River City High.

But the best thing about this song is its message – it’s about empathy, solidarity, and the importance of community.

And everyone needs a reminder to be a little kinder to others from time to time.

33. “Beating Heart Baby” by Head Automatica 

“Beating Heart Baby” is such an amazing emo throwback.

Head Automatica’s 2004 emo hit was a part of countless teenage playlists, and the song actually still rocks.

The band only released two albums, but they managed to make an impact on the emo scene nevertheless.

34. “Never Meant” by American Football 

“Never Meant” is another great alternative emo rock song.

Lyrically, it’s about a failed relationship, and you can feel that in the melody too. 

And although the song does sound sad, it’s also kind of calming and dreamy. 

“Never Meant” is taken from American Football’s self-titled debut album that became one of the most acclaimed math rock and emo albums of its era.

35. “At Your Funeral” by Saves The Day 

Saves The Day released several emo hits throughout their career.

They released their debut album, Can’t Slow Down, in 1998, featuring songs that have a melodic hardcore sound. 

Their other albums have a rather different sound, and “At Your Funeral” is a good example – it’s a rather classic emo song with pop punk elements.

It was released on Stay What You Are, an album that is regarded as one of the most influential albums in the emo scene. 

36. “Roses For The Dead” by Funeral For A Friend 

On the other hand, “Roses For The Dead” could be categorized as an emo metal song.

But “Roses For The Dead” isn’t only heavy because of its sound – it also deals with heavy topics.

The lyrics revolve around grief caused by the deaths of the protagonist’s friends.

And they are based on Matt Davies’ personal experiences – he dedicated it to his two late friends.

37. “At The Bottom Of Everything” by Bright Eyes 

“At The Bottom Of Everything” is also one of the beloved emo anthems.

It’s arguably one of the Bright Eyes’ best songs.

And the lyrics are very interesting – they tell a story, but they also seem abstract at times.

Nevertheless, they fit the song perfectly, and they will allow you to make your own interpretations of the song.

We must talk on every telephone

Get eaten off the web

We must rip out all the epilogues

From the books that we have read.

38. “Calling All Cars” by Senses Fail 

“Calling All Cars” by Senses Fail is another typical emo song.

The song’s title refers to the term used by police when requesting all the help available because they encountered an imminent threat or disaster.

Taking that into account, “Calling All Cars” is the singer’s cry for help after experiencing several heartbreaks.

39. “Ocean Avenue” by Yellowcard

If you’re looking for sweet early emo songs, this one’s for you.

At first, the song seems to talk about teen love, but it’s actually an honest song about missing home. 

“Ocean Avenue” was a big hit when it came out, and it received major radio play.

It’s indeed the biggest Yellowcard’s hit to date, and it’s generally regarded as an emo and pop punk classic.

40. “Konstantine” by Something Corporate

“Konstantine” by Something Corporate is an emo masterpiece.

Lasting more than 9 minutes, it’s the longest song on this list.

But more importantly, the song has thoughtful lyrics and captivating melodies, ideal for daydreaming or contemplating.

41. “Thnks fr th Mmrs” by Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy’s “Thnks fr th Mmrs” is a bitter emo song about ex-lovers – the song’s title is a disemvoweling of “Thanks for the Memories.”

The song achieved huge commercial success, becoming the band’s highest charting single and signature song.

It’s a staple on all the band’s concerts, and arguably one of the best 2000s pop punk emo songs.

And yes, that’s Kim Kardashian in the music video.

42. “Attention” by The Academy Is…

Attention, attention

May I have all your eyes and ears to the front of the room?

Without a doubt, you should also add “Attention” to your emo throwback list.

The Academy Is… disbanded in 2011, but they announced their comeback this year.

So, we don’t know if we can expect more albums from this pop punk band.

Either way, this song is a nice reminder of their best hits.

43. “Just Until Sundown” by Further Seems Forever

This is another rock band with a name that might as well be the song’s title.

Nevertheless, Further Seems Forever is Chris Carraba’s early emo project, and you should definitely give it a listen.

“Just Until Sundown” is probably their best track that deserves a spot on every best-of emo playlist. 

44. “Existentialism On Prom Night” by Straylight Run

“Existentialism On Prom Night” is a heartbreaking emo song taken from Straylight Run’s debut album.

The song depicts thoughts about sleeping with someone on a prom night.

Despite the topic, the song is deeply moving and thoughtful, and it’s a beloved emo hit for a good reason. 

45. “Do You Compute” by Drive Like Jehu

On the other hand, “Do You Compute” sounds more uplifting and hopeful.

Well, at least until the chorus, when everything bursts into flames.

So, turn the volume up, and let the sound of melodic and screaming 90s emo music take over.

46. “Until The Day I Die” by Story Of The Year

Until the Day I Die” is the debut single by American rock band Story of the Year.

The song became quite popular, and it’s still an essential part of various emo playlists.

When you look at the lyrics, the song is a bit dramatic, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

Until the day I die

I’ll spill my heart for you, for you…

47. “Screaming Infidelities” by Dashboard Confessional 

Chris Carraba is best-known for being a lead singer of the band Dashboard Confessional.

And  “Screaming Infidelities” was originally recorded for the band’s 2000 debut album, The Swiss Army Romance.

It’s the band’s breakout single, and arguably one of their best tracks to date.

In 2022, Variety ranked it as one of the best emo songs of all time.

48. “Something That Produces Results” by The Early November 

Released in 2003, “Something That Produces Results” became The Early November’s most notable songs.

In the same year, the band went on tour with Brand New, and their popularity began to rise.

Although they went on hiatus for a while, they managed to establish themselves as one of the famous emo and post-hardcore bands. 

Clever is a general word

While always showing that she’s hurt.

49. “Misery Business” by Paramore 

Don’t worry, we won’t skip “Misery Business” – it’s Paramore’s signature song and one of the most iconic emo songs.

Released in 2007, the song became a huge hit, and brought the band mainstream success.

The song’s lyrics are based on Hayley Williams’ personal experiences – and the narrative is quite descriptive, so the fact that it’s true makes it even more interesting. 

50. “Planetary” by Rainer Maria 

“Planetary” is a 90s emo song released by an American band Rainer Maria.

The song’s lyrics revolve around the idea of knowing the end is coming but not being sure how it’s going to look like.

So in a way, it’s a rather existential song – which fits the song’s title. 

51. “If I Told You This Was Killing Me, Would You Stop?” by Juliana Theory

There’s no doubt about it – the majority of emo songs have interesting titles.

And Juliana Theory’s 2000 track is a good example.

It’s a loud emo rock song with typical emo lyrics full of angst, spite, and longing.

52. “A Boy Brushed Red Living In Black And White” by Underoath

Here comes another emo tune with a long, strange title.

However, this song is more hardcore than other songs on this list.

So if you’re fond of screamo, you should explore Underoath’s repertoire.

Although the band has been initially identified as Christian group, they have distanced themselves from Christianity and continued to make emo music.

53. “Action & Action” by The Get Up Kids 

And if you like energetic, nostalgic emo songs, you should expand your list with this The Get Up Kids track.

After all, The Get Up Kids helped define the emo sound of the 90s.

And “Action & Action” is one of their best songs – it’s cool, lively, and unapologetic.

It’s a single from their second studio album, Something To Write Home About

54. “Hands Down” by Dashboard Confessional

Another song by Dashboard Confessional we want to mention is “Hands Down.” 

In short, it’s an emo anthem for hopeless romantics.

To make things even more romantic, the song tells a true story of a date that Chris Carrabba had when he was younger.

And he admitted it was the best date he ever had.

55. “The Anthem” by Good Charlotte 

Speaking of anthems…

“The Anthem” by Good Charlotte is such an amazing throwback song.

And we’re aware that some people wouldn’t describe this song as an emo classic.

Nevertheless, we believe it deserves a spot on this list (or an honorable mention, at least.)

Best Emo Songs – Final Thoughts 

Although there are many more emo songs we would like to mention, it’s time to wrap things up. 

After all, we’re sure our list reminded you of many iconic emo songs. 

And we also hope you came across some new tunes you can add to your emo playlist. 

Similar Articles:

Best Emo Bands of the 2000s

Best Sad Rock Songs

Best Sad Songs

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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