The Emo and Goth movements are both based in the punk rock movement of the late 1970s that spread internationally and continues to influence art, culture and media around the world. Both subcultures are also forms of hardcore punk and experimental underground music.

Emo stands for “emotional hardcore,” a type of punk rock music that evolved out of Washington DCin the mid 1990’s. Emo or emotional hardcore was an attempt by a number of bands to experent with chaotic music patterns and personal expression in abstract and primal ways.

Goth is associated with Gothic rock, a musical genre that emerged in the late 1970s as an alternative music characterized by dark music, and introspective and romantic lyrics. The Goth musical genre evolved into a broader cultural movement in the early 1980s, with Goth clubs, fashion and publications. Both the emo and Goth movements relate art to being through personal expression methods.

They differ mostly in the sense of expression of music and emotions. Though they both belong to the same genre of music but their expressions and cultural inclinations set them apart. Their thinking and influences on music also differ.

Comparison chart

Emo versus Goth comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartEmoGoth
Definition A style of music which was originally a subgenre of punk rock and post-hardcore with emotionally charged lyrics. Originally short for emotional hardcore, it was remade in the 1990s with a more indie/pop punk style. Early 80’s to present post-punk rock movement focus on dark themes & non-conformism through music, performance, etc.
Stands for Emotional hardcore (origin) Gothic Rock
Prominent in Mostly USA and more prominent in states of Washington DC, NJ, Midwest, Long Island and the West Coast Worldwide
Related to Punk rock, indie rock Post-Industrial Rock
Music Emo, indie rock, post-hardcore, hardcore punk, punk rock, alternative, pop punk Punk rock, post punk, glam rock, metal, rock, etc
Emotional perspective Hate the human race but love nature Hate the world as a whole
Typical Intsrument all Guitar, bass, drums
Style Skinny Jeans (Black) Band Shirts Vans or converse Punk rock, post punk, glam rock etc


The first waves of Emo started in 1985 when veterans of the music scene in Washington decided to break away a form a new genre of music. Goth finds its origins in the 1970’s from English Punk rock.


Emo rock is associated with  being emotional, sensitive, shy, introverted, or angry. It is also associated with depression, self-injury, and suicide. Goths are associated with dressing all in black, being introverts, and preferring like to be secluded.

Music Genre

They both belong to the punk rock scene. Emo focuses on emotional expression, and abstract waves of sonic dissonance. Gothic rock as a genre of rock music involves expression of emotional themes through introverted/extroverted methods in music, art, media, literature, fashion, poetry, etc.


Emo belongs to post-hardcore, pop punk and indie rock style while gothic rock is a form of punk rock, glam punk and post punk. Emo rockers preach release of primal energy with abstract and chaotic sub structures while Goth are recognized by emphasis on darkness in their tone, dress, hair dyes, make up, emotion, etc. Emo was originally a subgenre of post-hardcore in the 1980s. In the 1990s, it was reinvented and bands would sound more like indie rock (Weezer, Sunny Day Real Estate) or pop punk (The Get Up Kids, The Starting Line, Jimmy Eat World).


The emo hardcore focused on personal expression in a manner that also derives from poetry such as Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”. The Goth subculture is related often to black magic, witchcraft, and vampires popularly, though this may be more of a stereotype than fact, as evidenced by "Christian Goth". A good example of Gothic art and lifestyle is the UK punk and “Alien Sex Fiend”.

Culture Influences and thinking

Emo rockers are culturally critiques of society based on punk philosophy, post-punk, and other movements in art, music, literature, etc. Goth rockers, on the other hand, have a wide eyed and irrational approach and often are known for their inquiry into the nature of death, fantasy and fiction.

Prominent in

Emo originated from Washington DC and other parts of USA while Goth is followed in small pockets across the globe.


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