I feel very old realising that this time 10 years ago commenced the absolute worst 6 years of my life; secondary school. On the bright side, I survived, and although school feels like it’s gonna last forever – it doesn’t. Now it feels like it was someone else’s lifetime! I did my time, and these songs made it bearable. Here are the 10 songs that helped me survive school.
[Disclaimer: Some of the bands on this list, namely All Time Low, have very serious allegations against them. I no longer listen to or support them. This list is based on the artists I loved when I was a teenager. I don’t want to get on some high horse and act like I never liked them.]
School Survival Playlist
1. My Chemical Romance – I’m Not Okay
In one sentence, the title of this song was exactly what teenage me felt like.
There’s a part in the video where someone throws their lunch as Frank, and that was literally me in school, a human trash can (among other not so pleasant things). I used to wear black skeleton fingerless gloves (because this one time Frank Iero worn them so I went out and bought them), red clip in hair extensions, and too much eyeliner in the day, 100% looked like Revenge Era MCR. This song ironically makes me feel really happy though.
Gerard Way tweeted me when I was 16 and I cried.
2. Paramore – Misery Business
Paramore were one of my favourite bands when I was a teenager, and Misery Business (and the whole Riot album in general) is an emo icon. I actually grew out of them a little bit after Brand New Eyes came out – which I enjoyed but not as much as Riot.
Yes, there’s a lot of internalized misogeny in this one. It was very much the culture at the time and Hayley Williams wrote it as a teenager. It was never okay, but we know better and do better now. You might be interested in learning is bimbocore a good thing for the alt scene.
Check out my women in rock playlist.
3. Cherri Bomb – Let it Go
This song is where my blog name, “thisdreamsalive” came from, which was originally my username on Tumblr when I was 16 and it’s stuck around every since.
I found Cherri Bomb just before their first EP, “Stark” dropped, and fell in love. If I didn’t love them so much, I’d hate them because they were girls my age living my dream! When I ended my first band for reasons, Julia told me on Tumblr to start it up again because “fuck the haters.” Two years later I got to hang out with The Edge in a studio with a band I was in, and record a demo so thank you Cherri Bomb & Karma.
She’s on my Girls Who Rock post.
When Julia left the remaining members re-branded themselves as “Hey Violet”, and I saw them when they opened for 5 Seconds of Summer and cried.
4. Fall Out Boy – I Don’t Care
I tried to give off the impression that I didn’t care what people thought of me in school, but genuinely not caring takes a lot of practice. You gotta fake it till you make it, and now I probably care too little.
I was lucky enough to meet Fall Out Boy and see them live when I was 17. I literally forgot how to speak, because they’ve been in my life since I was 10/11 so actually seeing them in real life just felt out of this world. Pete Wentz winked at me because I brought a copy of his book to sign, and it was the most emo moment of my life.
5. Fearless Vampire Killers – The Vigilante: Death or Disgrace
FVK were a band I felt like a proud mom of, because way back when I spent my pocket money buying Kerrang! every week, they were band of the week when one of their early singles, Palace in Flames, came out, they looked like a band I’d love and they were. I immediately became obsessed – like MCR I ended up missing seeing them – even had tickets to see them at Reading festival but they broke up and pulled out. I ended up not going to Reading in the end, so it wasn’t meant to be.
I love creative bands who make weird concept albums, and take music much further than three good singles, generic music videos, and an album of filler. I loved the stories, the costumes, everything! Their early stuff is still weirdly comforting for me.
6. Panic! At the Disco – I Write Sins Not Tragedies
I had to make sure this post went full Emo Trinity, and I adored Panic! and this emo anthem. Like MCR, and FVK, I loved how theatrical they used to be – although Brendon is still doing pretty good I just don’t listen to them much anymore.
I played Panic, MCR, and the Used songs on guitar in my music practical exam for my Junior Cert when I was 15 and covered in eyeliner, for a lady literally dressed like Delores Umbridge – she very harshly gave me a C.
7. All Time Low – Therapy
I was quite a troubled teenager, and this song made me feel understood. I got to see ATL when I was 16 and they were great, I had a recording of this song live on my phone – which was awful quality – that I always revisited, and was very sad to lose the footage.
8. Pierce The Veil – Hold on Till May
I had a brief Pierce the Veil phase when I was 16, and now whenever I hear them I feel 16 again and that’s not a nice feeling. I was lucky enough to see them live, and they were fantastic though, I even cried. The album this is from actually came out on my birthday, July 17th, so that was pretty cool.
9. Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends
The Wake Me Up When September Ends jokes that resurface every year, are actually pretty insensitive, because Billy Joe wrote this about his dad passing away, but I dreaded September back in the day. It’s a powerful song.
10. My Chemical Romance – Famous Last Words
I had to save what is my favourite song in the world for last. This was the song, the band, and the album that got me through my darkest days. I cracked a few jokes about petty teenage things here, but as someone who really was not okay as a teenager, MCR were what got me through it.
The Final Word On Emo Survival Songs
You can absolutely get a sense of just how angry, angsty, and emo I was back in the day. I still love My Chemical Romance, but as for the other bands on this list, I grew up and away from them but still listen nostalgically from time to time. I originally had only 5 songs on this list, and then decided to add a few “Honorable Mentions,” and then just bumped it up to 10, and even that’s not enough, so my little emo heart wants to point out that I adored The Used, Taking Back Sunday, and The Pretty Reckless, in the day too but there’s no room!
A lot of these are about not being okay, but this music did at the time and still does makes me happy so I’ll always be grateful to these musicians. I’m okay, I promise.
For anyone still in school: you can get through this, I felt like I was never going to be happy and get out of that hell hole I went to, but I did. If being obsessed with bands is the only thing that makes you feel remotely happy then that’s okay because that’s how I survived (but please also seek help if you’re struggling). As my hero, Gerard Way once said: It’s okay to love something a little too much, as long as it’s real to you.” These songs helped me survive school, and for that, I’ll always love them.
Who was your go-to bands when you were in school?