With the recent announcement that My Chemical Romance is reuniting, our staff inhaled a collective breath of nostalgia and revisited the band’s discography. From their rawer beginnings to their epic, glistening concept albums, MCR is a band that is forever tied to the mid-2000s emo punk-rock phase. Whether or not the group aspired to great artistic heights is certainly debatable, but it’s pretty much indisputable that they were a damned ton of fun. So put on your black eyeliner, stick some pins in your backpack, slip on your wristbands, and join us as we revisit one of the most grandiose, over-the-top bands of our era. Here are our top 10 My Chemical Romance songs – let us know what you think in the comments section!
Sputnik Staff Top 10 My Chemical Romance Songs:
#10: “The Sharpest Lives”
During their prime, there was more substance to My Chemical Romance’s output than they were credited for. The songs’ lyrics always peeled layers off loose narratives, but most of them could’ve been easily enjoyed out of context as well. ‘The Sharpest Lives’ is a fine example of an ode to living life at its fullest, indulging in all the vices and excesses without thinking of consequences. Musically, it retained the energy found on Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, yet showcasing a more refined approach to structures. Gerard Way leveled up his delivery too, especially during the catchy, melodic choruses. — insomniac15
#9: “Cemetery Drive”
One of the final moments on Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, ‘Cemetery Drive’ benefits from a beautiful contrast between the more upbeat instrumental and heart wrenching lyrics. The clean, staccato guitar notes and marching snare fills sound as if on the verge of bursting, while Gerard passionately sings about the death of the album’s protagonist’s lover. As expected, the chorus is powerful and infectious, whereas the lack of a pompous vibe helps building the track’s elegiac tone. — insomniac15
#8: “Welcome to the Black Parade”
Gotta be straight with all of you here– my first knee-jerk reaction to writing about this thing, this powerhouse conglomerate of a song, was just to throw down the song’s intro and then call it a day. The intro is a classic opening set of lyrics and is known by all fans of My Chemical Romance, so fuck it, I guess. But, yes, but, there is more to be said here, and though we obviously don’t consider the band’s most successful and ambitious song as being amongst their elite pickings, via staff consensus and all, we must give credit where credit is due. Take any modern rock/punk band with mainstream inclinations, whether from today, or a decade ago, and task them with making a multi-suite, epic, Queen-size, wrecking-ball petition for stardom, and have it break into the Hot 100 while doing so. History has told us: it only happens once, so in that fact we find and fondly remember “Welcome To The Black Parade” for being the masterful example of arena-ready-rock songwriting that it truly is. Anthems just don’t get any bigger, nor successful, than this. — Observer
#7: “It’s Not A Fashion Statement, It’s a Fucking Deathwish”
I can’t quite articulate why the lyrics in “It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Fucking Deathwish” connect with me so strongly. Every line is vague in a way that allows for a more visceral interpretation. “Do you remember that day we met? You told me things get harder, well it did”. What does that mean exactly? I don’t know, but I feel it. And the constant soaring octave chords underneath it all reinforce that sense of fist-pounding, heart-racing-adrenaline. “It’s Not a Fashion Statement” has no chorus and only a couple repeating parts, and yet it’s perhaps the band’s catchiest song. Gerard Way goes absolutely in on this track – outside of the mostly instrumental intro, this song is the Gerard show. “For what you did to me, and what I’ll do to you. You get what everyone else gets, you get a lifetime”. Goddamn man. That did the trick for my twelve-year-old brain in a way I still don’t understand. I listened to Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge every single day throughout Jr. High, and I’m starting to think I should pick that habit back up. — Trebor.
#6: “Thank You for the Venom”
There are many other bands I’d go to first for the full-blown adrenaline hit that a riff-heavy monster jam can provide – that’s not a criticism, but in my mind My Chemical Romance are a band built around hooks and theatricality, singalongs and melodies. The exception is “Thank You for the Venom”, the one jam that forces me to pull over my car so I don’t start doing 130 on the highway. Frank Iero’s gnarliest riffwork is borderline metalcore, and Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge‘s immaculate production sees the ample rhythm work keep the song in check. But as always, once Gerard Way takes the mic it’s hard to pay attention to anything else. One of his catchiest choruses is weighed against the furious, thrashing death throes of screamy My Chemical Romance before they were subsumed by The Black Parade‘s grandiosity. Promise all you want that this time you won’t be flailing your arms and banging your head like a goddamn maniac to “Thank You for the Venom” – it’s a bet you’re gonna lose. —Rowan
I don’t know why my teenage self insisted on being so astounded at The Black Parade like it was some huge departure for My Chemical Romance. Sure, the concept teased out some stylistic tics that weren’t quite foregrounded, but all that theatricality and flair were inherent in the band since the first note they played. With that in mind, “Mama” is the one song that still holds a surprise after all this time. This song is truly fucking bonkers – it scans like Pink Floyd’s “The Trial” filtered through The Wizard of Oz and Broadway, with a metalcore breakdown for seasoning. Liza Minnelli’s vocals are the most infamous moment on the album, but my favourite touch is how that brief classical oasis is bookended by the nastiest moments on the record – “but this shit that I’ve done WITH THIS FUCK OF A GUN” constituting my favourite Gerard Way delivery of all time. It’s not all that hard to see the My Chemical Romance of Three Cheers writing “This Is How I Disappear” or “House of Wolves”, but if you’re telling me you saw a symphony of insanity like “Mama” coming in 2006, you’re a goddamn liar. — Rowan
#4: “The Ghost of You”
The reason “Disenchanted” remains a special standout for My Chemical Romance can be pinpointed directly to the potent storytelling. The band have written bigger hooks, I concur, but nothing quite like the most relatable track on The Black Parade. When Gerald reminisces on his rebellious past – recalling running from the cops and laughing so hard it would sting – it strikes a chord in all of us. Visions from our youth come rushing to the surface in colorful detail. We didn’t all have the law chasing us down left and right, but we’ve all had those late nights of getting into trouble with our friends growing up; nights of having a few too many but having a lasting story to tell. “Disenchanted” is effective because it taps into this collective spirit of our youth while also giving the nod to… duh, the music! Raising hell is one thing, but as Gerald so aptly puts it, nothing connects with him like the roar of the crowd. “Disenchanted” is a passionate love letter to music that tells its story utilizing everything from gentle guitar plucking to some of the charismatic singer’s most explosive verses. If there’s one song in MCR’s career that perfectly encapsulates the nostalgia of our adolescence and how music played its part, this is it. Some of their tracks are just good fun, but this one will stand the test of time – at least for many of us sentimental music nerds. — Atari
You hear “Helena” by My Chemical Romance. You’re blown back to those vestiges of youth, the embarrassing parts you’ve selectively excised because god forbid you remember the eye liner or silicone bands you wore around your wrists for some reason. But “Helena” is the type of song you see—the on-the-nose Hot Topic aesthetic, Gerard Way’s contorted singing face, and all that garish black and red. Fight it all you want but you remember waiting for that video on Fuse so you could sing along with Way’s outrageous diphthong and pantomime all the hand movements.
But as silly as you remember it, “Helena” still sounds like a banger. You remember all the words, the hooks are still just as infectious, and MCR’s gaudy theatrics are surprisingly endearing after all these years. It feels good, not just the memories but the song itself. It’s a masterclass in mid-aughts pop-punk and, henny you’re here for it. Hell, at this point, you won’t even feel bad when it’s on your Spotify 2019 playlist. — Xenophanes
#1: “Famous Last Words”
In context of the concept for ‘The Black Parade’, the video for “Famous Last Words” is perfect, as is the song itself. On film, the entity that is ‘The Black Parade’ is in fiery ruins; the members themselves are covered in ash, with the makeup running off their faces, the rest smudged with splotches of dust and exertion. It’s evident that prior to this event the show had gone out with a bang, yet here the band remains still with one last statement to make, the so-called ‘famous last words’, a statement that is very much the mirror counterpart of the message from the record’s massive title track, bar a change in pronouns: “We’ll carry on” becomes “I am not afraid to keep on living”. The pivotal moment in the song, and arguably the greatest moment in all of My Chemical Romance’s discography, comes in the bridge, however. Way breaks through the fourth wall with such startling honesty and bare humanity that you feel that you’re there with him, in the ruin, as is intended: “I see you lying next to me, with words I thought I’d never speak, awake and unafraid, asleep or dead.” The bridge repeats and builds, as does the song’s final chorus – you’ve heard it. The message is clear and universal to fans and stands as the definitive portrayal of what this fucking band has always been about: We are not afraid to keep on living, and together we are never alone. — Observer
For additional staff top 10 lists, check out the following:
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