Mid 2000s pop-punk angst . . . where are they now?

We all had that period sometime in middle school where we listened to whiny pop-punk and wallowed in our feelings. I don’t know about you, but I wanted to be a “scene girl” more than anything . . . thank god my parents stopped me from chopping off my hair and making a fool of myself.

One thing they couldn’t stop me from doing, though, was blasting “emo” music louder than I should’ve.

I know a lot of us have moved on from those bands, but they’re still real and out there. So what have they been up to?

Fall Out Boy

Back in the day, this foursome was known for Pete Wentz’s nudes, and the songs “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down,” “Dance, Dance,” and “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs.” After taking a well-earned hiatus in 2009, they rose from the ashes with a bang in 2013 with their album Save Rock and Roll. They released their second post-hiatus album, American Beauty/American Psycho (ABAP) in 2015, which also contained the song “Immortals”—featured in Disney’s Big Hero 6. Some people call them sellouts, but to those people I say—meet me in the pit. This band has and probably always will have my heart, and each of their albums stands out for completely different reasons. Never ones to shy away from experimenting, the subtle R&B touches on a lot of their songs, and guest features are always wonky in theory but magical in practice—from Lil Wayne on 2008’s Folie à Deux to the rap remix version of AB/AP.

Must-listen songs: “Uma Thurman,” “Young Volcanoes,” “Favourite Record,” and “Miss Missing You”

Panic! at the Disco

Having gone through more lineup changes than any band I can think of in recent memory, the only original member of the band left is frontman Brendon Urie. Long past the “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies” days, Panic! is on their fifth album—Death of a Bachelor—which was released in 2016, and honestly, Urie just keeps getting better. He’s really come into himself as a performer, and he oozes showmanship and confidence now which makes Panic!’s performances a joy to watch. Less angst, more sparkle, but still with the same intricate lyrics, this band is still one of my favourites.

Must-listen songs: “Death of a Bachelor,” “Ready to Go,” “Let’s Kill Tonight” “House of Memories,” and “Vegas Lights”

Paramore

Paramore was always a big inspiration to me when I was younger. Hayley Williams—the frontwoman—was really the first girl I ever saw kick ass, and achieve mad success in the genre. Riot! Was a formative album for me. I firmly believe Williams’ work in Paramore paved the way for bands like Hey Monday, We Are The In Crowd, and Tonight Alive to succeed too. Her fiery hair was also a look I always envied. Paramore had a lot of hits, like “Misery Business” and “CrushCrushCrush”—but their big break was when they released “Decode” for the Twilight soundtrack. From that moment on, Paramore was inescapable, and despite a lot of inter-band drama, and some lineup switches, Paramore’s done an incredible job of harnessing that success and keeping it going—something bigger bands on this list have objectively failed to do—with later chart-toppers like “The Only Exception” and their most recent album, the self-titled Paramore’s “Still Into You” and “Ain’t It Fun.”

Must-listen songs: “Proof,” “Playing God,” “Misguided Ghosts” and “Part II”—but only if you listen to “Let The Flames Begin” immediately before it.

My Chemical Romance

Cue the funeral song. My Chemical Romance (MCR) was a game changer. They set a precedent, and changed music in a way that no other band has done since. They took theatrics to a new level, and they amassed a well-earned army of devoted fans in the process. The visuals and lyrical themes of The Black Parade album are still unmatched. They had a good run, and released four albums between 2001 and 2013—and then called it quits to the collective heartbreak of those of us who had stuck around for the long and bumpy ride. The four remaining members the band had before they signed off as a group for the last time now have a variety of side projects that are unique in their own ways, and those of us in MCR withdrawal still cling to them. Gerard Way has a solo album, Hesitant Alien, his brother Mikey is in the band Electric Century, Frank Iero has released music under a variety of names (frnkiero andthe cellabration, Frank Iero and the Patience, and Death Spells), and Ray Toro has released several solo songs over the years.

Frank and Gerard’s projects are probably my personal favourites.

Also, their last album, Danger Days, was brilliant and highly underrated.

Must-listen songs: “Bulletproof Heart,” “DESTROYA,” “Planetary (Go!),” and “Vampire Money”—written mockingly after being asked to provide a song for the Twilight franchise. Gerard Way’s “Action Cat,” and “Brother” are great too.

– Photo is provided.