The emo kid in Singapore

Emo trends Singapore 2000s
2000s emo kid trends in Singapore

Having peepers rimmed with artfully-smudged black liner. Knowing the entire “The Black Parade” album’s lyrics by heart. Flicking your head sideways 20x daily because your long fringe was obscuring your vision. If these things sound like a familiar part of your past, you, my friend, were probably an emo kid in the 2000s. Just like how I and many other Singaporeans now in their mid-20s to mid-30s were.

While it might now be the time of K-Pop, Hypebeasts, and baggy streetwear, there will be nothing quite like the emo era – at least overpriced bathroom slippers as going-out shoes weren’t a thing back then. Let’s take a trip down the memory lane of skinny jeans and teenage angst.

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1. Paul Twohill was your idol or crush

Paul Twohill
Image adapted from: Cheng Yu OhPaul Twohill

Singapore Idol’s second season happened right at the height of the emo era in 2016, and one of the show’s standout contestants was a 17-year-old named Paul Twohill – partly for his decent singing chops, but more so for his super strong identity, which was the living breathing epitome of emo kid.

A long, floppy fringe covered one of his eyes most of the time, and the remaining visible eye would always be seen encircled with thick eyeliner. Tons of teen girls all over the island had a massive crush on him and would camp at Idol roadshows just to receive merch with his face on it.

After finishing fourth on the talent show, he went on to host various events and series like Wonder Boys and Chick vs. Dick on Clicknetwork.

Paul Twohill girlfriend
Image credit: @paultwohill77

If you’re curious as to what he’s been up to lately: Paul has since cleaned up his look, is now an English teacher to young kids, and recently got engaged to his longtime girlfriend! Good on you, bud.

2. Peninsula Plaza was your fashion haven of skinny jeans and hoodies

Peninsula Plaza skinny jeans
Image credit: yinanayi

Hate to break it to you, but if you didn’t have to squirm around and go slightly out of breath as you squeezed yourself into your skinny jeans, your jeans were not skinny enough. In the eyes of the emo clan, that is. The tighter, the better. A plus point? We didn’t even need belts.

Peninsula Plaza was the go-to place for these trendy skinnies. Although black and red were the more popular, there was a store at the basement which sold them in a whopping 30 colours – in sizes up to XXXXXXXL, no less! Talk about inclusivity.

half half skinny jeans
Image credit: Hot Topic

Some of them had a half-half design, where one pant leg would be black, while the other would have another colour or even be patterned with checkers.

Emo skull hoodies
Image adapted from: 

Apart from being jeans heaven, that old mall also sold black hoodies with monogrammed coloured prints of skulls, guitars, and stars. Anyone who paired these 2 must-have fashion items together were pretty much certified emo. Good times, good times.

3. As was Far East Plaza with band shirts, striped t-shirts, and plaid

Emo plaid shirt

Far East Plaza was another fashion hotspot. Back then, numerous indie fashion boutiques were stocked high with band tees, plaid collared shirts, and striped long-sleeved t-shirts that usually came in black with red, green, dark purple, or grey. Not forgetting those skinny red neckties a la Gerard Way.

Haru Goth
Image credit: Haru Goth

Another well-loved store was Haru Goth, a gothic lolita fashion store with jackets, dresses, and boots. Only the rich kids could afford stuff from there. Goth and emo are not the same thing, but their colour palette of black and more black is similar, with some elements of both styles overlapping a little.

inokii far east plaza
Image credit: Nestia

These days, FEP mostly stocks mainstream fashion like crop tops and streetwear, amidst its rows of beauty parlours and tailors. Any telltale signs of its past life remain in the form of piercing stores on the top floor, metal record store Inokii (they still sell band tees!), and Lips Enterprise, which is more of a costume shop than anything.

4. Your blogskin featured Pon and Zi, bleeding hearts, and an emo playlist

Emo blogskin
Image credit: My Nice ProfileXailla

Oh, the good old pre-Instagram days of blogging where we talked about our crushes using code names and openly vented about life in true angsty teenager fashion. There’s a high chance you also posted your own cringey poetry on your little online diary.

Of course, our blog skins had to possess the same level of expressiveness. As an emo, you probably had black as the main colour theme of yours, with a smattering of red, pink, or purple accents for a bit of vibrancy.

Some of these blog skins had a grungier style with coloured checkers, swirly vector patterns, skulls, or paint splatters – a rather Avril Lavigne-esque sort of vibe. Other common motifs included tear drops and bleeding or broken hearts. 💔🥀

Pon and Zi
Image credit: Pon and Zi

Another popular type of blog skins were those featuring Pon and Zi comics, which are equal parts cute, sad, and romantic. Sometimes a little macabre, but nothing too dark.

Blog music widget
Something like this but in black and red, and with different songs of course.
Image credit: 

Oh, and don’t forget the additional music widget with a carefully curated emo playlist. *Cue Hands Down by Dashboard Confessional – “MY HOPES ARE SO HIGH THAT YOUR KISS MIGHT KILL MEEEEEE”*

To think we were such HTML geniuses at a tender age.

5. Your HMV loot included Death Cab, FOB, and Mayday Parade albums

Emo album art
“In Love and Death” by The Used and “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge” by My Chemical Romance. Iconic.
Image credit: 

Before free music streaming via Spotify was a thing, we got our music the old-school way from record stores like HMV. Nothing can replace the feeling of holding a brand new music album in your hands and poring over the album art as you attempted to memorise all the lyrics in the booklet.

While other peeps were busy gushing over Jonas Brothers and the High School Musical soundtrack, we emo folk went straight for bands like Hawthorne Heights, Taking Back Sunday, Black Veil Brides, and The Used.

6. Getting your hair checked during morning assembly was a nervous affair

Emo hair

You could easily spot an emo kid from afar – it was all in the hair. Lots and lots of it, with a long side fringe as the defining factor. Think Pete Wentz or Kyle Patrick circa 2007.

With strict rules on appearance in school, it was always a cat-and-mouse game for students, especially during those dreaded morning assembly attire checks.

Our trick? We’d sweep our long fringes flat across our foreheads to give it the illusion of being neatly above our eyebrows whenever prefects or chers walked past…only to let it flop back down once again once they disappeared. The fashion police ain’t got nothin’ on us.

Emo hair
The girl equivalent, which was just a longer version of the boys’.
Image credit: 

If you were unlucky enough to get caught more than once, you might have gotten sent to the barber by your teacher for a forced haircut. Not fun.

7. Owning a red & black MYUK bag/wallet with sad quotes

MYUK wallet
The wallet I wanted so badly but never had
Image credit: 

It wasn’t enough to wear our hearts on our sleeves, no, we had to wear them on our bags and wallets as well. While they also carried mainstream, girly designs in pastel pink, a portion of MYUK’s goods were highly coveted by emo kias for their grungey appeal – no prizes for guessing the colour scheme.

Some of them were emblazoned with “deep” quotes that were most relatable to our young broken souls.

MYUK bags
Image credit: tv.elfdlconnexion

As if that wasn’t enough, some would jazz up their bags with a crapload of safety pins – almost like a metaphor for the mending of our shattered hearts. Ironically, doing that destroyed the PVC material of these bags, making them tear and flake over time.

8. 77th Street and X-Craft were your go-tos for accessories

Image credit: XCRAFT

Spiked earstuds, striped arm warmers, and studded belts were the shizz you needed to complete your emo look – and you could get them at accessory shops like 77th Street and X-Craft, where all the cool kids did. They also offered cheap piercing services, much to the chagrin of your mother.

Sadly, 77th Street has since shuttered the doors of its last outlet in 2016, but you can still find a small handful of X-Craft outlets in heartland malls.

9. Your foolscap pad was filled with emo lyrics and doodles

emo lyrics drawing
Image credit: turntechGodhead

All of us were guilty of doodling on the back of our foolscap pads on the pretext of taking down notes in class. Your friends might have drawn hearts and arrows with their steads’ names in them using multi-coloured glitter pens. But as for us sensitive emo peeps, our note sheets were transformed into red and black works of art with song lyrics scrawled across every inch. Doodles of thorny roses and tear-streaked faces, optional.

Some favourites include:
“Don’t waste your time on me, you’re already the voice inside my head.”
“I tear my heart open, I sew myself shut. My weakness is that I care too much.”
“I could live without you, but without you I’d be miserable at best.”

Emo lyrics drawing
Image credit: webbygirl10

Some of us went so far as to pen these words on our arms and Converse Chuck Taylors too.

Funny how we could diligently memorise dozens and dozens of songs, but had trouble with the periodic table and Math formulas.

10. Hooking staples over your lip to create a fake piercing

Fake lip ring
Image credit: wikiHow

When we ran out of ear cartilage space, we started looking for other body parts to pierce. Most of the time, this didn’t come through, no thanks to school rules and strict parents. A low-commitment alternative that wouldn’t get us into trouble? Bending open a staple – also referred to by many Singaporeans as a “stapler bullet” – and hanging it over one’s lip to create a fake lip ring.

10/10 for innovativeness.

11. Crying over MCR’s 2013 breakup, and again over their 2019 reunion

Me in 2013: Crying over MCR
Me in 2019: Still crying over MCR

In 2013 came a major blow to emo kids around the world – My Chemical Romance, one of the most iconic bands of the genre, announced that they were breaking up. Many went into serious grieving after the initial disbelief – some friends and I even wore nothing but red and black for an entire week as “mourning garb”, no kidding.

My Chemical Romance
Image credit: My Chemical Romance

Sounds extreme, but plenty will tell you that this band’s music saved their lives as they dealt with mental health issues, bullying, and the struggles of being misunderstood growing up.

Come 2019, the group left us sobbing all over again. The difference? These tears were now happy ones, with the band releasing an announcement for a reunion tour right on Halloween – a perfectly fitting date that was probably non-coincidental. Tickets were sold out almost instantly.

While there have been shows scheduled for Asia, there are unfortunately none planned for Singapore…yet. Some of us were too young to attend their 2007 concert, which was the only time they ever performed here, and it’d be a blast to finally watch them live. Fingers crossed that some rockin’ new albums will also follow in the months to come.

12. That nostalgia when attending Emo Night at clubs as an adult

Emo night Singapore
Image credit: @emonightsg

For a long time, clubbing only meant R&B, pop music, and electronic house music. But in the past couple of years, Emo Night has since become quite a thing in Singapore’s nightlife scene. As its name suggests, these themed clubbing events feature all the classic hits from your favourite alternative rock bands – giving 80s- and 90s-born former emo kids a chance to revel in their lost youth once more.

*sheds a black eyeliner-infused tear*

Almost akin to being in a mosh pit – sans the actual band of course – it’s the perfect night out for those seeking a heavy hit of nostalgia with other like-minded ex-emos who never really grew out of that whole “phase”.

Nostalgic emo trends in Singapore

Emo Singapore
Me cosplaying as Andy Biersack from Black Veil Brides, LOL.
Image credit: @caramellechaos

While many of us have grown up and traded messy smudged eyeliner for a clean cat-eye, one thing’s clear: Our past emo selves will never be forgotten. Some of them still lie dormant, waiting to emerge whenever we hear the unmistakable ring of that “G” note. #itsnotaphasemom

To outsiders, the emo subculture was probably nothing more than a fashion statement for teenage posers. And perhaps that’s true to some extent. But for many within the group, it also provided a sense of solace and belonging – especially for those grappling with mental health problems, self-harm, and other forms of internal brokenness.

With other old trends like retro fashion and vinyls making a comeback, I’m not-so-secretly wishing hard for an emo resurgence anytime now. BRB while I go dig out my skinny jeans.

Thks Fr Th Mmrs.

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