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Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and EMO

3.5  ·  Rating details ·  1,182 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and EMO
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 15th 2003 by St. Martin's Griffin
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Rating details
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Jun 15, 2007 rated it did not like it
I was going to re-read this book so I could have a huge arsenal of shit to hold against Andy Greenwald.
But I'm not. I'm just going to rant. Alot.
I'm going to say that this book is absolutely horrible, and if you want to know about Emo then go to because it explains what emo really was better than this heap.

Greenwald insults not only the bands, but also the fans that are reading the book by MISQUOTING ALMOST EVERY SONG HE TALKS ABOUT. Listen Andy, there are about 100 sites o
Michael Parkinson
Dec 26, 2016 rated it liked it
First half was great. Second half was entirely focused on Dashboard Confessional and the merits of the Internet as a communication device. Read the first half.
Erin Coleman
Aug 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who are fond of indie, acoustic, etc.
Nothing Feels Good changed my life in the sense that I'm not ignorant anymore. When someone calls another person "emo," I can now proudly correct them and tell them that it doesn't stand for emotional, it stands for emotive rock, and explain to them that there is a relationship between Minor Threat and emo, which before I thought to be without a doubt, impossible.
Apr 14, 2009 rated it liked it
FOURFA, the ultimate website on Emo says: "By 1999, [post-emo indie rock:] had achieved a fan base far larger than any of the original emo stuff. In fact, that's what prompted me to write this website in the first place - the glut of info on the web about this and the lack of a historical perspective. Statistically, you the reader are most likely to be familiar with this type of emo. In the years since then, it's only grown far, far bigger. Jimmy Eat World and Thursday are in regular rotation on ...more
Jun 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, music

As not only a music fan but a music industry professional, I can safetly say (even though this is a subjective statement); that this book is an insult to the genre of "emo" and to music fans in general.

First of all, I don't even know why "punk rock" is in the title except for the minuscule connection that Greenwald makes between the offspring of punk rock, post-punk, and emo. Yes, he backtracks to Minor Threat and Rites of Spring but it mostly seems like a cry at acting like he knows what he ta
Mar 16, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
andy greenwald from spin magazine writes about how the music genre 'emo' developed out of punk rock and why its so sacred to the teenagers who listen to it. i really liked the book since i listened to a lot of 'emo' but he made it seem like only high schoolers liked it, i listened to those bands in high school but also my first two years of college a lot and he also made it seem like it was only sad kids listen to it, but i wasnt all sad and depressed when i listened to it either. but it was sti ...more
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book while hospitalized. I was only allowed an ipod shuffle filled with *only* sunny day real estate, jawbreaker, texas is the reason, promise ring, get up kids, fugazi & dashboard. This book was the perfect compliment & made me appreciate a genre I already loved even more. I wish I could make all my friends read this. I wish I could make anyone who thinks fall out boy is emo read this. The books is a little dated, written at the height of pop-punk commercial "emo" in the ear ...more
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
ugh. where to begin.

1) This book is all over the place. I get the impression Greenwald had no idea what he was doing while he was writing it; he just kind of threw everything at the page and saw what stuck.

2) The interviews for this book were conducted between 2001 and 2003 and the book is primarily about that period in time. It is not a history of emo music/subculture. Anything before 1998 or so is breezed through in around a quarter of the book. Over half the book is dedicated specifically to
Aug 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Nothing Feels Good is an exhaustive study of emo culture in America, which has largely faded out of the limelight over the past few years. While a lot of popular music dwells on the former lovers who left you, emo stands out because it really, really, really dwells on it.

Andy Greenwald spends considerable time paying tribute to the heroes of the culture (Dashboard Confessional, Vagrant Records, and it is a fascinating read as Greenwald covers Chris Carrabba's near nervous breakd
Mar 31, 2010 rated it liked it
I would suggest this book to a person who is just beginging learn about the genre of emo. I would hand this book to a kid today who grew up thinking that the acoustic guitar and whiney voices they heard was all the emo ever was. Sure, it's not the greatest exmeplar of a historically accurate novel, but it's well written and funny. I am an English Major and I always keep a pencil with me when reading and I found myself underling passages I liked and circling bands I didn't know. I ended up compil ...more
Chris Garrett
Dec 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
I came across this book while browsing my local book store and decided to flip through a few pages. Nothing Feels Good is a multi-sourced dissection of the indie, punk,and "emo" music scene and how it has evolved since their origins. I feel that the book and its chapters are all over the place instead of having a single focus on one solid genre.
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have been a big fan of Andy Greenwald from his work in television criticism for Grantland and his podcast The Watch, in which he and his friend Chris Ryan mostly discuss recent happenings in television and cinema and pop culture in general; they also occasionally dip into their shared history as music journalists, as both cut their teeth writing about music, which inspired me to seek out Greenwald's seminal text on "emo", which is to date considered to be the authoritative text on the musical ...more
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
A hardly essential but nonetheless entertaining read for those who want a fan's perspective on the 'emo' genre circa 2003. This is a fairly well-documented but scattershot tour through various aspects of the sub-culture surrounding emo just a year or two before it transformed into the goth-cribbing 'mallcore' phenomenon, which many people still (unfortunately) associate with the term.

As someone who came of age in the early 2000's and fell in love with the genre through the gateway drugs of poli
Shaun Swick
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
The back half almost stumbles into deep resonance as it first chronicles the rise of Dashboard Confessional and then dives into the early days of the social Internet via and Livejournal. In its real-time documentation are the seeds of the all-encompassing, fast-moving, world-shifting Internet we know today.
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was definitely not a bitter pill.
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: music
"Emo" has been a charged and contentious term since its inception. Like the punk scene it originally derived from, emo means many things to many people, whether it's the early 80's post hardcore emo of Rites of Spring, the mid-90's emo of Sunny Day Real-Estate and The Promise Ring, or the early 00's mainstream post-goth emo culture most associated with bad hairdo's, cutting, and crying. For people who have only ever experience the latter side of emo, the first half of Andy Greenwald's book is an ...more
Nov 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
So when I finally see Dashboard Confessional in September, my appreciation level for his live music is going to be infinitely more than it would have been had I just gone in with my probably all ready over the top appreciation. This book, whilst starting out with a bit of history, and general emo vibes, record labels, albums etc. ends up devoting a good chunk to Chris Carrabba and Dashboard Confessional. I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves Dashboard, very quickly.

The book also deals
David Brock
Nov 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Whoops, almost forgot, ahem.

Interesting read. The book reads like a timeline for the sub-genre: beginning with a brief, yet detailed, chapter on the origins of the sub-genre including, but not limited to, such DC "Revolution Summer" (1985) pioneers as Rites of Spring; then, notable early 1990s bands including, most notably, Jawbreaker and Sunny Day Real Estate; followed by the mid-1990s scene featuring bands like the Get Up Kids, the Promise Ring and Texas Is the Reason. That being said, however
Dec 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Overall, this was a really interesting read, especially with the hindsight of ten years passing. It's interesting how the "emo" label continues to morph and evade people to this day, and I really feel like Greenwald did a great job of exploring the origins, the zeitgeist when the book was written, and he even does a good job of speculating on what would happen.

As someone with fond memories of the early days - especially bands like Jawbreaker and The Get Up Kids, this book really took me back do
Melissa Guimont
May 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
I am of the generation that this book talks about; the punk rock/emo kid that has refused to "grow up" and listen to the garbage that mainstream radio stations play. I'm the angry youth that is in my 30s and a responsible adult who will never give up her emo songs and punk anthems. When you ask me my favorite bands, you wouldn't recognize half of them. I stood in the cramped room of the "Middle East" to see my favorite no-names take the stage. I still follow these bands that are together and rel ...more
Oct 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-books
really, really enjoyed this. it's well-written, doesn't talk down to (or about) the scene, and gives really good background on what emo is until about 2003.

this is the first music book i've read that details a scene i was on the fringe of- i turned 18 in 2002, i listened to dashboard confessional and cried an awful lot my freshman year of college, i was listening to and talking about taking back sunday and the get up kids and thursday and jimmy eat world and new found glory- so it was extra-inte
Jess Tebbets
Jul 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: music fans
A brilliant look into the past, present, and future of the form of punk rock known as "emo". Greenwald looks back to hardcore bands that broke up and formed punk bands which focused on emotional content as opposed to social commentary on government policies. This starts the wave of emo music coming around. Then the present is viewed by looking at current bands such as Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, Brand New, and others. These bands are big names in the current musi ...more
Yasmeen S
Oct 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book, it had every aspect I look for while reading a book. It was easy to keep up with, while still using unique language. My absolute favorite part about the book was the writing style; the author used very powerful language and strong metaphors. I personally liked the book because it was mostly about music and the music industry which I am very interested in. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the emo music scene and style. However, if you lik ...more
Christian Ryan
Jan 29, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this maybe 10 years ago. At the time I probably would have rated it 4 or 5 stars. However, Knowing how this genre evolved (or rather, devolved) I'm rather apathetic about it and would rate it 1 or 2 stars. I remember it focused on Dashboard Confessional way too much. Also, Weezer...a band that never really seemed to be lumped in with the emo bands of the time but rather a band whose lyrics resembled a 2nd grader's attempt at poetry (and still do). I mean come on dude...does every line hav ...more
Apr 15, 2013 rated it did not like it
I am not going to bother to finish this book, as quite frankly, it is not very good. As a fan of bands like Jawbreaker, the Promise Ring, Braid, the Get Up Kids, and their ilk as well Andy Greenwald's writing for Grantland (can't say I remember anything he wrote for Spin) to this was a disappointment would be a vast understatement. It did not strike me as a all together well researched book, and some of his claims were downright hilarious--at one point he was talking about underground music 'zin ...more
Kate Hughes
Jan 23, 2014 rated it liked it
An interesting look into emo music, mainly the change from a smaller alternative subculture to the beginning of it being a much wider reaching and marketed music genre.

It provides a reasonably in depth history of the genre, particularly for anyone not so familiar with its beginnings. The book also looks at the relationship between bands and fans and the impact the music has on them, which for me was the most interesting section.

There is an insight into the beginnings of digital music and social
Dec 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
This book and Andy Greenwald sparked my interest music writing at a young age. As far back as I can remember, this book was read in a little less than a week. Greenwald knows his stuff about the emo/punk rock movement and music in general. I actually heard and read this book because of my huge Dashboard Confessional fandom but the book is so much more than Dashboard Confessional and I really learned a lot.

I used to be a member of Greenwald's message board discussions and his passion for what he
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
I think it did give a lot of good information, but I was vaguely annoyed through most of the book. I think some of this is because there is a lot that can be annoying about emo. I don't want to slag on it, because it appears to fill a need, even if it is not a need that I have.

The rest of the annoyance is the author's voice. I thought it was because he ended up with such a huge crush on Chris Carraba, but even if that is a factor, I think Greenwald also ended up being a little in love with how
Oct 02, 2014 rated it liked it
A great history of the roots of the emo scene (Washington DC's emotional hardcore music) and how it has transformed over the past decade. Greenwald doesn't fling recriminations or place blame, which is admirable in a genre of writing that many authors seem to have trouble remaining objective in.

The later portions of the book focus in on a couple of acts Greenwald identifies as quintessentially "emo." Whether the study suffers from this perspective is up to the reader to decide; I personally enj
Courtney Burgess
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! I read this my freshman year of high school, and i was skeptical because of it being nonfiction. i loved every word of it. for someone who was very much a part of the "emo movement" as a young teen, i was completely obsessed with this book. Even for those who are unfamiliar with the bands and other pop culture references discussed, it gives a fresh, open minded perspective on the subculture. Emo is and has always been mocked and misunderstood. This novel sheds light on the purity, hon ...more
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Andy Greenwald is an author, journalist and screenwriter living in Brooklyn, NY. His writing appears daily on and occasionally in Spin, Entertainment Weekly and Penthouse. He tweets often ( yet hasn't updated his website since 2006.
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