We launched the Sad 16 round of March Sadness on this past Monday, and votes are still coming in strong. Voting for the Sad 16 round will end on Sunday night before the Emo 8 begins, which is why we thought it’d be a great idea to post our matchup guide and analysis for the current round of bands in the tournament. Vote here until Sunday night and make sure to check out the analysis on each band while reblogging with your comments below!
Early 90’s 1v4 Sad 16 Face-off: Jimmy Eat World vs The Promise Ring
Jimmy Eat World, by Josh Hammond
History: After a string of smaller but respected and recognized releases, Jimmy Eat World broke things wide open with their runaway smash Bleed American. From the strength of the release being certified Platinum, the band managed to successfully secure the respect of both the college rock crowds and major market industries. Riding the wave of the exposure, Jimmy Eat World managed to strike back and turn heads with Futures. A decade later the band still boasts one of the most steadfast fan bases in a somewhat fickle industry and proudly wears a badge of honor of being one of the most approachable and storied emo bands of all time.
Strength: With a sound embedded in raw and venerable lyrics and hook as infectious as they come, Jimmy Eat World strikes hard as the most approachable and embraced band on this list.
Weakness: Though the song “Big Casino” showed flickers of hope, the band was never truly successful in following up the wave of success they had established for themselves from the 2001-2004 period.
Win/Lose Argument: With the possible exception of Dashboard Confessional, it is easy to state that no band has done more to popularize sad music than Jimmy Eat World.
The Promise Ring, by Josh Hammond
History: When 30° Everywhere dropped on Jade Tree Records in 1996, everything about music changed. The band had taken the previously established hardcore sound, which was thick and extremely repetitive, and slowed it down to a grinding and smooth pace. In that instant, the second wave of emo was born. At this point, The Promise Ring had only been a band for 9 months. They would go on to release 4 major full lengths and a number of EPs through 2002, before going on to focus on other projects.
Strength: The band is heavily credited with being responsible for popularizing and trigging the second wave of emo. They also have been said to have inspired a majority of the genre’s bands that would later follow in their foot steps.
Weakness: The band suffered from a relatively short career and often required lineup changes to survive.
Win/Lose Argument: Logically speaking, it is possible to make a very compelling argument that without The Promise Ring, emo wouldn’t exist in the form that it does today.
Early 90’s 2v3 Sad 16 Face-off: The Get Up Kids vs Sunny Day Real Estate
The Get Up Kids, by Adrienne Fisher
History: Since 1995, the Get Up Kids have made themselves a household name, helping to pioneer a genre wave that would give a way and inspiration to many, many other bands aiming to accomplish the same brand of melodic, accessible emo.
Strength: There’s a palpable, developing maturity that one can trace chronologically throughout GUK’s career, and because of that, there’s a wide variety of stylistic choices through all their releases onto which fans can latch - from the lower-fi, gangly sad jams on Four Minute Mile to the fleshed-out, fuller emotional rock of Guilt Show and everything in between/beyond.
Weakness: Said stylistic moves can make it difficult for a band to maintain a consistent fanbase, especially when the music, at times, edges on genres outside of the established aesthetic.
Win/Lose argument: The GUK’s March Sadness rivals, Sunny Day Real Estate, are no doubt influential and noteworthy in the antiquity of emo, but they boast a career with far less longevity and are much less accessible in the audible sense; the Get Up Kids, for instance, surely have SDRE beat on vocals alone. Matt Pryor’s warm, Midwest pipes vs. Jeremy Enigk’s wiry, tense voice? No contest.
Sunny Day Real Estate, by Josh Hammond
History: The band released Diary in 1994 on Sub Pop Records to a fanfare of critical and consumer praise. However, shortly after releasing the album’s follow up, LP2, the band split in favor of other projects. Reunions would follow from 1997-2001 and again from 2009 - 2011.
Strength: In their short time together Sunny Day Real Estate shifted the way emo was approached and viewed. Decades later, the band is cited as one of the most influential and game changing acts in the history of emo.
Weakness: Their career was very short lived.
Win/Lose Argument: Though slightly short lived and unstable in their career, the small window of time Sunny Day Real Estate existed opened the door for many other bands who followed. In a glance, they changed music in a giant way.
Early 00’s 1v4 Sad 16 Face-off: Brand New vs Thursday
Brand New, by Michael Meeze
History: Formed from the angst of Long Island, enigmatic alternative rock quartet Brand New have been mysteriously enthralling legions of fans for over twelve years with the release of four benchmark albums.
Strength: Their inscrutable nature, adaptability, flexibility, and undeniable passion.
Weakness: Their many stylistic changes have alienated some fans and their last two albums, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me (2006) and Daisy (2009), are challenging listens.
Win/Lose Argument: Thursday is brilliant; there is no denying that. And their overall influence on post-hardcore is defining. However, what sets a legendary band apart from an influential band is a band’s ability to connect with their fanbase on a profoundly emotional level. Brand News has done that; Thursday has not.
Thursday, by Adrienne Fisher
History: Gritty, humble beginnings in the basements of New Brunswick beget Thursday to many as the initial foray into the “screamo” genre movement of the early 2000s.
Strength: Unadulterated aggression courses through the continuity of their work, paired with songs that address real-world topics in the context of human emotions. Despite being pigeonholed into a silly genre name with many silly contemporaries, Thursday does “screamo” with an air of intelligence and a complete lack of cheesiness (save for maybe the countdown in “Jet Black New Year.”)
Weakness: Some of their later albums seemed unfocused and confused as they moved away from their core origin sound, and were ultimately not nearly as cherished as Full Collapse or War All the Time have come to be.
Win/lose argument: Competitors Brand New have built their legacy around mystery, intrigue and, ultimately, a lot of bullshit, attempting to alienate their fans with all cryptic everything. Thursday, however, has always been straightforward and gracious to their fanbase and acts with a genuine respect to their craft and careers, as exemplified in their humble, yet graceful, disbanding at the end of 2011.
Early 00’s 2v3 Sad 16 Face-off: Taking Back Sunday vs Saves The Day
Taking Back Sunday, by Michael Meeze
History: Taking Back Sunday formed in 1999 on Long Island, New York and have gone on to release five albums and numerous mainstream hits.
Strength: Their mainstream appeal, tumultuous history, malleability, and pop-sensability.
Weakness: Tumultuous history, member turnover, and allowing Flavor Flav to be in one of their music videos.
Win/Lose Argument: Wait…who is Saves the Day? While Taking Back Sunday have been pumping out classic jams such as “Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From the Team),” “A Decade Under the Influence,” and “MakeDamnSure” for over a decade, history has all but forgotten about the once mighty Saves the Day (who, if we’re all being honest, has not been relevant since Through Being Cool). In fact, the only thing Saves the Day has on TBS is the number of line-up changes the band has gone through over the past decade. This is a no-brainier: Taking Back Sunday.