In 2005, an unexpected but revolutionary wave of scene music hit the mainstream. It was the year Myspace rose in the online ranks social media and became the most popular of its kind. It gave bands new avenues to introduce their unique sounds to the masses and familiarize the world with the classic scenester selfie pose: brutally teased hair, one eye hidden behind bangs and a kissy face to match.
With emo, pop punk and indie music merged with experimental sounds of a younger generation of musicians, 2005 was an unforgettable year with a lasting effect on alternative music. It was a year that waved goodbye to a monochromatic look and melancholy sound for a more bright, exuberant charisma.
Here are the essential albums from a year that will forever be known as one of the greatest for alternative.
Alkaline Trio – Crimson
Alkaline Trio continued their reign of the alternative scene with their fifth album, Crimson. The band explored their preexisting sound that consists of emo lyrics and vocals with a dash of punk. Half of the songs on the album are conceptual, such as “Sadie,” while the rest rely solely on the members’ experiences with life, love and death. Alkaline Trio are a band who exemplify the theory of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” and they do it so well.
The All-American Rejects – Move Along
The All-American Rejects’ second album, Move Along, brought an abundance of commercial success with “Move Along” and “Dirty Little Secret.” They branched out from their success as an emo-pop band to an all-out pop-punk force to be reckoned with. Across their career, AAR continued to produce emotional lyrics, but Tyson Ritter’s vocals were noticeably more upbeat and joyful.
Armor For Sleep – What To Do When You Are Dead
In the midst of the 2005 boom of new scene bands, Armor For Sleep released their second album, What To Do When You Are Dead. Charged with deeply personal, emotional lyrics that detail the heartbreak of being left behind but the desire to admit that love still exists, Armor For Sleep’s sound became confessional, mixed with emo and punk. The album is framed around the concept of death, and, as such, it tells the truth about the connections between death and life with Ben Jorgensen’s vocals in full force.
Bayside – Bayside
Following the success of their debut album, Bayside released their self-titled follow-up, which featured emotional songs that displayed a passionate disdain for life and love. The album explores loneliness and the deepest pits that someone can fall into in a depressive state. It also gives a fast-tempo rhythm to the often soft-sounding themes found in classic emo music. On this record, Bayside found a way to mix emo, punk and alternative rock into a sound all their own.
Cartel – Chroma
Cartel’s debut album, Chroma, is a mixture of pop, rock, indie and emo. Undoubtedly, it’s an amalgamation of every great sound in the alternative scene. The product is a unique take of the classic styles of the genres that influenced it. In “Honestly,” the band establish their MO of mixing rock guitar riffs with pop-punk’s bouncy energy alongside emo’s lyrical honesty. Overall, it’s an unexpected debut from an unforgettable band.
Chiodos – All’s Well That Ends Well
The debut record from Chiodos, All’s Well That Ends Well, set the stage for their popularity to come. Mixing clean vocals with screams, Craig Owens delivers punchy lyrics that detail the confusion of decision-making and love. The album features emo, screamo and hardcore, but it also introduced a new stylized method of producing scene music. Chiodos utilized gothic and Shakespearean influences in their songs to successfully separate themselves from the rest.
Circa Survive – Juturna
Circa Survive debuted Juturna with a point to prove, and they had the vocals and lyrics to back it up. After leaving Saosin, Anthony Green went on to create his own sound. The new lyrical style sounds more like a conversation with himself than anything else. By mixing emo and punk with this, they made a lasting impression, cementing Green as a legend in scenester circles.
Fall Out Boy – From Under The Cork Tree
Leaving behind the sorrowful sounds of their first album, Fall Out Boy reinvented themselves on From Under The Cork Tree. Rather than filling the album with emotional songs about heartbreak, the band took the opportunity to deliver a boisterous sound that dispelled the myth of emo and pop existing separately. With songs such as “Dance, Dance” and “Sugar, We’re Goin Down,” Fall Out Boy created a conceptual story that celebrated turning negatives into positives rather than relying on melancholy. While retaining their roots with emo lyrics, their refined pop-punk sensibilities welcomed the trials and tribulations of youth.
Gym Class Heroes – The Papercut Chronicles
Gym Class Heroes released their first mainstream but second album, The Papercut Chronicles, with an unexpected openness. The album explores addiction, poverty, heartbreak and love. Travis McCoy’s vocals establish the emo nature of the band while breaking down the barriers between alternative and hip-hop. The Papercut Chronicles is a deeply personal account of McCoy’s life. With experiences ranging from childhood to adulthood, he merges hip-hop with emo to create an unmatched sound.
Jack’s Mannequin – Everything In Transit
Everything In Transit is Jack’s Mannequin’s debut album, which was released following frontman Andrew McMahon’s exit from Something Corporate. The album details feelings of burnout that McMahon began to experience within the music industry. It mixes emotional lyrics with piano-led instrumentation to create an inexplicably lethargic and nostalgic feeling toward life. Combining emo, pop and power pop, the album leaves the listener desiring more than what the world has to offer.
Motion City Soundtrack – Commit This To Memory
On their second album, Commit This To Memory, Motion City Soundtrack continued to produce deeply emotional songs with a tonality that shifted between celebratory to absolute loss. “L.G. Fuad” is the epitome of the album’s unforgettable sound. It expresses a deep sense of insecurity with an upbeat tempo that leads Justin Pierre down a path of destructive behavior. The record represents committing the pain to memory and trying to find pockets of light in between the darkness. It culminates in a powerful mixture of emo, pop and synthesized music.
Panic! At The Disco – A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out
Panic! At The Disco hit the scene with unexpected talent on their debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Fronted by Brendon Urie, the punchy, dramatic sounds of his voice mixed seamlessly with Ryan Ross’ lyrical talents. It made for an album worthy of immense praise to this day. Their songs included topics that ranged from infidelity, drug use, mental health, sex work and more. Fever’s catchy lines and vocals fueled by passionate pleas to dance and seductive imagery took the scene by storm. Unsurprisingly, the album was a commercial success. Its second single, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” was sung by any and everyone. Panic! At The Disco’s unforgettable mix of synthesizers, piano, brass instruments and more created a sound all their own.
Paramore – All We Know Is Falling
Before Hayley Williams went on to start a solo project in 2020, she and her bandmates in Paramore debuted their first album in 2005, All We Know Is Falling. The album is a mixture of pop punk, punk and emo. Some have even categorized it as “mall punk,” which was coined during this period due to bands such as Paramore, My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy becoming mainstream. Regardless, they dominated radio waves with songs such as “Pressure” and received critical acclaim for Williams’ voice and talent. To this day, Paramore are a tour de force of emotive punk with unforgettable creativity and energy.
Scary Kids Scaring Kids – The City Sleeps In Flames
Debuting their first album, The City Sleeps In Flames, Scary Kids Scaring Kids presented a dark, complex record drenched in sadness and loss. The title track kicks off the tone that follows the entirety of the record: hopelessness, depression, apocalyptic ideations and endings. Mixing emo with screamo, SKSK capture the essence of the darkness that lies within post-hardcore.
Silverstein – Discovering The Waterfront
Discovering The Waterfront is the second album from Silverstein and packs just as much of a punch as the first. While maturing their sound following their debut album, Silverstein retain the emotive elements that made them an unforgettable band. “Smile In Your Sleep” and the title track set the bar for the album, detailing heartbreak and discovering the lies a lover is keeping from them. It’s charged with every element of rock, emo, punk and screamo to make it one of Silverstein’s greatest albums of all time.
The Spill Canvas – One Fell Swoop
The second album from the Spill Canvas, One Fell Swoop, is a rough, emotionally charged record that seeks to make the listener recognize the pain in the world. With deep ties to emo and indie, tracks such as “Polygraph, Right Now!” undoubtedly establish the band as one who deserve to be remembered. With One Fell Swoop, the future of the Spill Canvas was set.
The Starting Line – Based On A True Story
The second album from the Starting Line, Based On A True Story, features songs that detail the personal aspects of each of the member’s lives. It’s an album fueled with pop-punk sounds and emotional lyrics that address love and desire. With songs such as “Bedroom Talk,” the Starting Line establish that the record is about the joys that are found in love and the frivolous nature of having meaningless hookups, plain and simple.
Thirty Seconds To Mars – A Beautiful Lie
A Beautiful Lie, the second album from Thirty Seconds To Mars, is drastically different from their debut, which was entirely conceptual. The record is a cerebral account of the personal experiences one encounters throughout their life, delivered through Jared Leto’s intense vocals. The album ranges from screamo to emo all the way to pure rock. Intensely passionate, it establishes Thirty Seconds To Mars as more than a niche band who rely on a concept album after concept album.
Thrice – Vheissu
While new bands were making a name for themselves in 2005, Thrice were cementing themselves into the scene with their fourth album, Vheissu. The album follows themes of optimism and hope while darkness looms above. Vheissu reflects that sound exactly with emotional ballads such as “For Miles” and punk prowess in “Hold Fast Hope” that scream pleas for hopefulness in a dark world. The band successfully captured their emo, hardcore and punk roots while mixing them with classical elements for an immersive experience of the human condition.