Essential Listening: Download Festival Australia 2020 (My Chemical Romance)
Be still my (bleeding) emo heart! My Chemical Romance will touching down in Australia for Download in a matter of weeks. As a proud former emo whose eyeliner heavy adolescence was soundtracked by these lads, I've taken it upon myself to throw together a list of some essential MCR tracks to listen to ahead of their Australian shows. Whether you were a keen fan in their heyday or your only real experience with them was through the punk room at Hot Damn! (or Bang! or Black Market), get your ears around these babies.
Disclaimer: these songs weren't chosen necessarily because they're the musically superior songs, but they are important milestones in the band's journey, whether due to their success, their bold new direction in sound, or their iconic music video.
Honorable mentions who we still love but not enough to put on the list:
- Hang 'Em High
- Sharpest Lives
- Vampires Will Never Hurt You
- House of Wolves
- I Don't Love You
10. Honey This Mirror Isn't Big Enough For Both Of Us
Appearing on their debut album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Your Love, 'Honey This Mirror Isn't Big Enough For Both Of Us' deals with themes of addiction - specifically Gerard Ways past struggles with alcoholism. While it wouldn't be until their second album that MCR would break through and build their cult following, this track is the poster child for the rough and raw sound that made them an underground sensation.
The first entry on the list from MCR's fourth album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, 'Sing' was a commercial success upon its release, and for good reason - the song is damn catchy. While it was a fairly large departure from the sound that had won the band legions of fans, there was still an underlying essence of MCR, just a lot cleaner and more heavily produced. More stadium rock, less sad/angry teens in their Mum's garage.
8. The Ghost of You
Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge undoubtedly put MCR on the map, with its fast-paced, angst ridden hooks. 'The Ghost of You' is the albums more heartfelt ballad, acting as an emotional touchstone on the album.
Tackling the pain of loss, not only is the track a musical left turn for the band, but it's video is also a departure from their usual fare in terms of aesthetics. Set in WWII and donning army fatigues, the video aims to visually represent the aural dichotomy between the verse and chorus. Reportedly costing upwards of $1 million dollary-doos, it has amassed more than 78 million views to date. Not too shabby.
Fun fact about the song - it was actually inspired by the legendary Watchmen comic, with Way telling MTV that the title comes "from an ad for [the perfume] Nostalgia that says 'Oh, how the ghost of you clings'".
7. You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison
Another cracker from Three Cheers, 'You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison' is the absolute epitome of MCR during this era - it's wild, it's chaotic, and it tells a fictional narrative of unknown characters. It's just peak MCR in every way.
6. Famous Last Words
Welcome to the Black Parade's 'Famous Last Words' helped to usher in a new era for the emo band. While the album as a whole has been touted as the quartets magnum opus, signalling the beginning of a more radio friendly sound, this was one of the stand out tracks for many from the landmark release. With a big chorus and hooks aplenty, 'Famous Last Words' is a real crowd pleaser, offering countless opportunities for a good sing (yell) along.
5. Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)
The first single from Danger Days, according to Way, 'Na Na Na' (I'm not writing the entire song title, it's right there) was the track that reinvigorated the band after the departure of drummer Bob Bryar and a lack of musical inspiration in general. According to an interview with MTV, once the riff of 'Na Na Na' was created, it quickly brought them out of their slump, giving them the momentum they needed to record a follow up to The Black Parade.
Similar to the other Danger Days track on this list, 'Sing', 'Na Na Na' was a fairly large step away from their previous sound. Unlike 'Sing' however, 'Na Na Na' still holds a very strong current of the quintessential sound MCR crafted. It's also got a hell of a fun, catchy chorus.
4. I'm Not Ok (I Promise)
This track, to me, was the start of what made MCR a stalwart musical act from the early 2000’s. ‘I’m Not Ok (I Promise)’ is quintessential MCR. It’s got catchy hooks out the wazoo and its lyrics were oh so relatable to teenagers across the globe who felt that no-one understood them as they (we) fumbled our way through our teenage years. The first single from Three Cheers, it was an important release in the story of the band and to this day remains one of their most memorable songs.
‘Teenagers’ was a refreshing sound from MCR as the band experimented and flexed their musical muscles on The Black Parade. According to this interview with frontman Way, the song was actually inspired by the singers trips on the subway and the fear he felt when rambunctious youths would board the subway. In true MCR style, the track is catchy as hell and has immense sing along value.
Like many, for me 'Helena' was an introduction to the world of MCR. Its theatrics, both aurally and visually in the music video, burned an everlasting image in people's minds about who MCR were and what in the hell emo was. While certainly not the first song of its kind, it has since become one of the defining tracks of the genre. Eliciting nostalgia in so many of us whenever those damn cars collide, 'Helena' cemented the bands status as icons of emo.
1. Welcome to the Black Parade
As if it wasn't going to be number one. Taken from the seminal album The Black Parade, 'Welcome to the Black Parade' was an absolute gift. An essential on any emo playlist, it set the bar for all other emo bands. From the pared back intro with just piano and vocals (so simple, so effective) to the huge chorus, it's 5 minutes and 11 seconds of delicious musical goodness that still elicits dramatic singalongs to this day. With a suitably theatrical (and iconic) music video, it's no wonder that this absolute classic became the bands most well-known and long lasting song.
Do you agree with our picks? Sound off in the comments with what songs you want to see MCR play when they touchdown for Download on March 20 and 21. Get your tickets here!