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Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  1,410 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo tells the story of a cultural moment that's happening right now-the nexus point where teen culture, music, and the web converge to create something new.

While shallow celebrities dominate the headlines, pundits bemoan the death of the music industry, and the government decries teenagers for their morals (or lack thereof) ear
Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 15th 2003 by St. Martin's Griffin
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Average rating 3.53  · 
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 ·  1,410 ratings  ·  110 reviews

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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.
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
Erin Coleman
Aug 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Spenser Milo
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure if this book is well-researched or is simply just the only book of its kind, therefore well-researched because there's no comparison. I did like it, though, mostly for its timely release in 2003. After 2003, emo broke into the mainstream and became alt-rock to casual ears so Greenwald's standpoint becomes even larger as its on the brink of everything changing. For instance, there are brief paragraphs and interviews about the absence of women in the genre and, little does anyone know ...more
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
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
Benoit Lelièvre
Mar 25, 2021 rated it liked it
I'm of two minds when it comes to this book. I think Andy Greenwald really nailed the cultural experience that was/is emo. The exploration of vulnerability and hypersensibility that defined an entire generation (my own) and whatnot. There's also a great history of the genre that is presented from both point of view: the artists and the fans. Which is great.


Because there is always a but, right? Nothing Feels Good is anchored around the rise in popularity of Dashboard Confessional, one of th
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 early 2000s ...more
Luke Murphy
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Oof. Incredibly outdated now, but provides a good insight into the early days of emo up until about 2001-2. Does make it super apparent that it’s always been privileged white boys moaning and thinking too highly of themselves. There’s also a big section on LiveJournal, which is amazingly cringe.
SJ Loria
Feb 25, 2022 rated it did not like it
I read this book in college, as a super emo kid in the scene.
This book felt like a creepy old man riding along with high schoolers trying to figure out why they like emo. Too author focued, no appreciation for the music. Don't read this book, read Sellout by Dan Ozzi.
Amanda Hatton
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. ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
first half: amazing, informative, fun to read
second half: have you heard of Chris Carrabba?
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
April Marble
May 15, 2021 rated it liked it
Although this probably prevents me from truly enjoying anything, I compulsively read book reviews as I’m reading a book. I cannot rest until I know what Sidney G. from Nova Scotia thinks about the book and how she relates it to her youth. I know this removes the pure experience from reading something and forming my own opinions, but it also helps me understand what matters when reading a topic I know very little about. In this case, I was a whopping 9 years old when this book was published and h ...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
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very mediocre, but it’s probably the only book out there that talks about emo.

Pros: It was pretty thorough in the sense that it described ALL aspects of emo culture i.e. the music (of course), the Internet forums, the fan base, and more. I learned about a lot of important bands and got to see a lot of interviews.

Cons: The organization and time dedicated to each topic were terribly thought out. I would have loved to see more recent emo bands. And why was there so much time dedicated to Dashboard
Aug 22, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: music
First two parts of this book are pretty great, Greenwald spends a decent amount of time discussing emo legends such as but not limited to Sunny Day Real Estate, Jimmy Eat World, etc. along with legendary hardcore bands such as Rites of Spring. I disagree with Greenwald's idea of Dashboard Confessional being the thing that really "commercialized emo" and gave the genre a large fanbase with a lump sum of money, but instead it was Jimmy Eat World that really kicked this off. I could be biased just ...more
Lavender Rathman
Lightly touches on the actual emo origins and then launches into the midwest emo/mtv emo thing (which as a certain type of person will tell you, "isn't real emo"), so much of this book is about the wonderful new invention called "the internet" and how napster is impacting the music industry! Remember web forums? He sure wants you to! Also about how the kids keep selling out to bigger labels because they wanna get rich.
What isn't about this is just Greenwald's love letter to Dashboard Confession
Olivia Butcher
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book really shows why people love Punk Rock, Emo, and other types of music. It starts off by talking about what emo is, it really amazed me how beautify crafted it was. It shows how people use music as an escape from their problems and the rest of the world. I really related to this book, music makes my problems fade away and gives me a sense of purpose, music really is my life. I recommend this book for everyone (not young children because there are some mature themes), it opens your eyes ...more
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The perfect nonfiction book. The people who talk, really go deep in their situations and the fact that their music relates to them very well. It's such a deep book, I can't describe it. This book tells everything about punk and emo, even the latter's music flaw, which is how so many boys have problems with their relationships with girls. I highly recommend it to anyone who is fascinated by punk rock, teenagers and emo, hence the title. ...more
Dec 24, 2019 rated it liked it
A lot of emo helped me out in high school and continues to help me out today. I wanted to read this because Spin is one of my favorite magazines and Andy Greenwald is a writer for Spin! Mainly, I wanted to read it for the Weezer and Thursday sections. Overall, I felt like this was just a reallly long magazine article... but a good one. I don't know why Dashboard Confessional took up such a large part of the book (am I forgetting Chris Carrabra IS emo?) I also loved the mention of zines!
Mar 15, 2021 rated it liked it
This is good! I liked it! The internet parts were great as were some of the historical assessment. Oh, I could appreciate how deep it got into what it means to really come of age in the early aughts (like I did). It was written a bit too early (published in 2003) when it should have been written 5 years later. Way too much Dashboard Confessional too, but that's what happens when you publish in the middle of the scene itself. ...more
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.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: research-books
2.5 stars. It was ok. Didn't finish it all because it was for a uni assignment. There is a line about the way men talk about women through their lyrics that really irked me. "Thankfully, violent fantasies such as these are prevalent but not dominant" ... Yikes ...more
Jul 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Mega nostalgia with a heavy dose of history explained.
This book will land best if you're a dashboard fan, but stands on its own as a informative, if a bit long-winded, history of how we got to Dashboard Confessional.
Feb 03, 2022 rated it really liked it
a great nostalgia trip. the book summarizes my life as a a 20-year-old in the early aughts and im happy to revisit it nearly 20 years later. chris carrabba can still kick it and andy greenwald hosts one of my favorite podcasts. we’re all aging beautifully, no?
Apr 26, 2022 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read, written well enough for me to go check out some of the music, which still doesn't do it for once it moves out of the Rites of Spring/Superchunk eras. The chapters discussing late 90s/early 2000s internet forums got me all nostalgic. ...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. ...more

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