In honor of the 20th anniversary of emo's breakout year, this edition of 'In Defense of the Genre' looks at the 20 best emo albums of 2001.
Emo started in the 1980s and really came to be a widespread genre throughout the 1990s, but emo's massive breakthrough moment came in 2001, with a series of albums that would take the genre out of the underground and onto television screens, radio stations, festival lineups, Myspace top 8s and Hot Topics all across America and beyond. Like when grunge broke into the mainstream a decade earlier, it was the culmination of a sound that had been building for over a decade, but once it did start to take off, it happened almost overnight. Bands quickly went from obscurity to MTV, and countless others followed in their footsteps. Once the doors were kicked down in '01, an onslaught of bands started getting mainstream attention. 2002 saw even bigger breakthroughs than the previous year, and by the mid 2000s, emo was one of the biggest genres of music in the world. The popularity led to backlash, and a rapidly-changing music industry eventually turned its attention away from punk-adjacent bands in the mainstream, leaving the genre stigmatized by the end of the 2000s, and eventually -- as far as the mainstream was concerned -- dead. Of course, it wasn't actually dead, and by the early/mid 2010s, a new wave of underground emo bands began enjoying critical acclaim, and later that decade, rappers like the late Lil Peep and Juice WRLD pioneered the new subgenre emo-rap, which continues to leave an impact today. Emo as we knew it in 2001 never returned to the level of popularity it had two decades ago, but it's proven to be the dominant form of alternative rock for so many music fans over the past 20 years. The mark emo made in 2001 is still felt in many ways today.