Vulture put together a list of the “100 greatest emo songs” of all time. By and large, pretty damn good list. It’s full of great songs and there’s some massive nostalgia factor in there. Obviously, I have a pretty strong attachment to this genre of music. And, I thought the authors handled the issue of Brand New about the best you can:
Initially, they were considered a viable candidate because telling the story of emo without Brand New would be like making a 1980s list without Thriller. “More broadly speaking, there’s a difference between not supporting a band going forward and writing them out of history,” Garland noted. But on further reflection, this isn’t simply a historical account of emo, but rather a series of subjective opinions organized to quantify greatness. Especially after witnessing Leaving Neverland and Surviving R. Kelly in the time since the initial voting, it became impossible to include Brand New on this list and not replicate the same mistake that’s plagued popular music throughout history — condoning an artist’s actions and minimizing the victims if the music’s good enough.
This is a topic I think about a lot and I still have no good answers. I keep thinking one will come, but maybe I’m just lying to myself that I’ll be able to think my way to some kind of clarity. I’ve started and stopped various essays on this topic multiple times because I still feel too close to it and it always ends up with me in a weird headspace. But, how the authors handled this feels right to me.