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Thought by many to be the worst radio promotion of all time, a 1979 “Disco Sucks” event at a Chicago White Sox home game led to a ballpark riot, fires, property damage, and 39 arrests. But the event organized by rock DJ Steve Dahl did have an impact: to many it signaled the beginning of the end for disco.

FM-94/9’s program director Garret Michaels doesn’t want to trigger any violence with his station’s “Emo Sucks” campaign. He just wants the whiny rock subgenre to go away.

“It hit me at one of our staff music meetings that there are an awful lot of emo/screamo woe-is-me, I-hate-my-life-type bands being squeezed out by the record labels. What you have is a band that breaks out like My Chemical Romance or Fall Out Boy, then suddenly you have these label execs who are 50 years old putting out the same kind of bands because that’s what the kids are into nowadays. What set me off is that last week I noticed a new CD by a band called Forever the Sickest Kids. They had a song called ‘Whoa Oh! Me Versus Everyone.’ Then I noticed a CD by another band on a different major label called Scary Kids Scaring Kids.

“Basically, it’s all the same formulaic thing: young guys with the emo swoop haircut wearing the super skinny tight jeans and super skinny T-shirts bitching incessantly about how much their life sucks when they are probably upper-middle-class suburban kids who never mowed the lawn. With emo we’re talking about manufactured, Cheez Whiz-in-a-spray-can-music. It’s time to call an end to all these ridiculous-looking bands and their ridiculous-sounding music.”

Michaels says he has had over 1000 listener requests for Emo Sucks T-shirts that his station will have made and then distributed for free. He says 94/9 doesn’t play emo. “I am proud to say we have never played My Chemical Romance or Fall Out Boy.”

His major competition, 91X, however, has. And while he won’t name names, many would maintain that at least two of the bands appearing at the May 16 X-Fest – Ludo and San Diego’s My American Heart – have the emo chromosome.

Signed to Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman’s Warcon label, My American Heart is now getting regular airplay on 91X.

The band’s New York manager, Mike Bachta, says My American Heart should no longer be hit with the e-word. “They started in that world, but they gravitated toward pop. They aren’t really an emo band anymore. It seems everyone is into saying emo sucks now.”

He says that the emo sucks campaign is just a way for 94/9 to generate advertising.

“They could just as soon be doing a ‘Nickelback Rock Sucks’ or a ‘Nu Metal Sucks’ campaign. Them doing this couldn’t bother me in the least.”

Should emo recede, Michaels won’t take credit. Nor should Dahl for disco’s demise.

“The death of disco had more to do with the fact of how bad and formulaic the music and the lifestyle had become. Its undoing wasn’t about just one thing.”

But what if 94/9’s emo sucks campaign itself becomes irrelevant since bands generally don’t like to be called emo anymore?

“Whatever they call it, we all know what it sounds like.”

The morning Michaels announced the Emo Sucks campaign, the new 91X morning show read an item about Ashlee Simpson’s alleged pregnancy with Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz.

Phil Manning, 91X program director, did not return a call requesting comment.

– Ken Leighton

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Comments

wrmerman April 25, 2008 @ 12:40 p.m.

Labeling these people/bands as emo is retarded. Just because a person wears tight jeans and pays an egregious amount of attention to their hair doesn't mean they are a Rites of Spring fan. It does not mean they own any Hot Cross records. My Chemical Romance is not an emo band, Scary kids is not an emo band, Forever the Sickest kids is not an emo band. Mr. Garret Michaels is merely perpetuating a gross misinterpretation that many people have. I find it comical that a musical DJ is championing a musical campaign based solely on his ignorance and lack of knowledge of musical genres. Windmill high five buddy, with any luck your campaign will be a success and we will here more "killer rock" bands like Hinder, Nickelback and three days grace...oh wait all those non emo bands blow too.

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whatever April 25, 2008 @ 12:44 p.m.

great,

now we have RADIO telling us what sucks?

you know what sucks, music picked out by 40+ males in an office, that have no connection to music anymore, and see bands and 'spins' as dollar signs for advertisements.

you know what sucks? people who have no clue what 'emo' is, and simply label something they don't understand as 'garbage'

you know what sucks? the industry does the same thing with 'emo' bands that it has done forever, how many nirvana/pearl jam/smashing pumpking rip off bands were there in the 90's? how many rappers are repeating the same lyrics? how many boy band's were there???

you know what really sucks? gaining publicity by spreading a message of hate, when obviously the entity is ignorant of music and what it can do for people's lives. regardless of what these bands are or what they sing about, unless you create music, you have no room to criticize these bands. don't get me wrong, I'm tired of hearing, "I kill myself because my girlfriend left me". oh but wait, I've heard that in at least two Breaking Benjamin songs and at least a dozen Everclear songs. You may disagree with a genre of music, but at least do your homework, and at the very least be able to look in the mirror and recognize the hypocrisy of hating manufactured bands. cough Hinder, Trapt, Seether, Nickelback

spreading messages of hate and ignorance is the last thing this country needs. last time I checked we had plenty of that to go around.

thanks 94.9 for revealing once again why radio is a dying medium.

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asmandamz37 April 25, 2008 @ 1:14 p.m.

Maybe people should actually listen to the bands before they begin to judge anyone. Forever the Sickest Kids do not sing about how much their life sucks, and whine about how they have it worse than everyone else.

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sms1976 April 25, 2008 @ 1:52 p.m.

For those who take the time to listen to fm 94.9 they would know that its one of the only stations in San Diego where the jocks are employed, not because of their knowledge of what was shown on TMZ the night before or how many times they can humiliate an intern but because of their love and KNOWLEDGE of music. The emo sucks campaign is not a display of igornance, or lack of taste, its simply an opinion.

Why do people care so much about others having an opinion about "emo sucking" Everyone who is bashing the idea all have an idea in their minds of what they think, sucks - rap sucks, country sucks, adult contemporary jazz sucks, stop being so f'in defensive and appreciate the fact that we still live in a country where we can display whatever SUCKS across our chests.

Its really not that big of a deal.

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ElliottH April 25, 2008 @ 2:35 p.m.

I've been a big fan of this station since it changed format from only 80's to the alternative rock in 2003. There practice of avidly diving into the listeners tastes and constantly on the hunt for new sounds that could possibly broaden everyone's horizons has been a reason for so many people tuning in. They're playlists have continuously never sucked, especially when it has been "About the Music" which is there mantra. But I do have to say that this campaign of hate against another form of music, no matter what it is just seems to detract from the any other sound. This might sound totally strange as a policy, but shouldn't you show what you disapprove of and dislike by merely not playing or promoting it?

Furthermore, this move just seems so inappropriately political in its form. If it had anything against the music, why the hell would it mention its rival radio station and their upcoming concert. As if I do not get sick enough of whatever damn power plays surface on the TV from Hillary and Obama, I get this kind of junk being passed around on the radio about music. Its a two-pronged assault on its listeners, its acting like the cool kids in high school just blackballing something because they don't like it, and worse, they're catering to perhaps tarnish another companies images and boost their profits. Its a pretty shameful move, and this is why terrestrial radio is dead.

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waltzingmatilda April 25, 2008 @ 10:10 p.m.

If these radio personnel really knew anything about the music they seem to think they do, they would know what emo really is. I acknowledge what the stereotypes have turned into. However, the difference between the image of it that this radio station is promoting as correct and the original meaning of emoTIVE hardcore that was an offshoot of the seattle hardcore punk scene would be entirely laughable were it not for how redundant it's become.

Also, encouraging hate and elitism in music is how we are encouraging these kids that think they don't fit in anywhere.

Furthermore, All bands complain. Music comes from the honesty of strong emotion. So they bands they deem good enough, are whining too. and personally, i'd rather listen to high school students who never felt right with the world than little children in africa singing about how they don't have any food. maybe that's just me. Not that i think that the problems in third world countries aren't relevant, but it's either Mika or kids singing about world problems if you exclude all lyrics that they seem to be trying to. and personally, one Mika is enough. and zero U2s are enough.

I also think it's a sad world when people are getting their idea of good and bad music from the radio.

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wrongstring April 28, 2008 @ 1:22 p.m.

ug. Had to stomach Forever the Sickest Kids and 'Sonny' the ex-vocalist from that lame emo band From First To Last during Alt Press' "Bands You Need To Know in 2008" showcase during sxsw. the only two bands worth knowing on that whole bill were Man Man and Gaslight Anthem. That proves a couple things. 1 is I'm old by Alt Press standards, 2 Alt Press is probably the worst place to learn about new music and likewise just about every radio station and 3 emo does suck but if you didn't figure that out 5 years ago then you suck too.

This music is the logical next step in the record industry investment in a 'genre' that can be monetized. They are the Boy Bands for this decade.

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folkharpist Sept. 23, 2008 @ 7:28 p.m.

Listen,

I am a local musician. I have met these people who work for 94/9. What FM 94/9 is all about is giving good music a chance to get out there, not sticking to any one genre and listening to what people have to say.

I guarantee that Garret Michaels didn't just form his opinion based on what other people have said in the past about emo music. He has most likely sat down and gave a real listen to tracks by these artists. He probably genuinely believes that the quality of the emo image and sound is questionable. What he is tired of, as he explains, is the fact that their songs' subject matters are centered around self-deprication and forced depression to fit into a category that has been mass-deemed 'EMO'. He is not saying all people who wear tight jeans are emo, nor are all people who have wavy bangs. But it's true that emo bands mostly define themselves by the clothes and hairstyles they wear, which really does suck. FM 94/9 wants to get back to real music, with real efforts, without a clouded image.

FM 94/9 is possibly the MOST diverse radio station there is. I had the honor of being a part of the Coup D'Etat once, where they let the participant play whatever they love. THAT is community, THAT is open-mindedness. They let me play freaking Joanna Newsom and Jaco and Jon Brion, ON THE RADIO.

The DJs at 94/9 are not 40+ men who just pick whatever. If you ever take the time to listen, they are all devoted community members who have a lifetime of involvement in music. They each have their own style, but they ultimately let the listeners decide because they have realize what people like and it's not emo music, what they like is to be heard.

Best part is, they have a sense of humor. 'Emo Sucks'? It's a joke. Ha ha.

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