Key Tracks: My Chemical Romance

Posted on November 20, 2010


So, with Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys coming out Monday, I’ve decided to take a look at My Chemical Romance and try to pick just five songs to recommend. It’ll be one track from each album (including one of the already-available tracks from Danger Days…), plus a couple. Then, feel free to vote at the bottom on your favourite track.

So, in chronological order, here we go:

1. “Early Sunsets Over Monroeville” (I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love)

This is actually one of my favourite My Chem tracks across all three (soon to be four) studio albums. I’d go so far as to say that I also consider it to be possibly Gerard Way’s best-sounding vocal performances. I know, I know – it’s one of his (technically) poorest, from a time where technical vocal quality wasn’t what MCR were about. What I mean is just the pure emotion in his voice.

To sing with such conviction and soaring emotion about being chased by vampires can’t be an easy thing for a vocalist to, so Gerard deserves a lot of credit for this track’s power. However, the low-key, almost incidental, instrumentation creates a very haunting atmosphere for “Early Sunsets of Monroeville” from start to finish.

2. “You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison” (Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge)

I’ve realised the flaw in only letting myself pick six songs for each artist when I write Key Tracks, and it is this: in some cases, their back catalogue will be underpresented, with some albums not being represented to their best. For MCR, this is a definite problem. There’s so many tracks that could go here, for all their records, so I’m just going with my gut, and my gut chose this song.

It’s raw, quirky and it sure as hell rocks too. It’s got the punk edge that defined MCR’s first two records, but also a blistering solo from Frank Toro, who is a hugely underated guitarist. Way’s vocals are again rough, which help the sick tale of the song shine through. The high pitched giggle, provided by Bert McCracken of The Used, is also a creepy touch that tops this song off perfectly. It’s not in this live version, but this is possibly my favourite version of this song, and one of My Chem’s best live performances

3. “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” (Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge)

This might seem like a laughable choice, but this track is a near perfect pop-punk stomper, from the vocals to the smooth piano breakdown, to the wails of agony from Way through to another fantastic guitar solo. This track has it all, and rightly propelled My Chemical Romance into the mainstream music scene.

For that reason, it’s kinda disregarded by a lot of fans, but it should be embraced. It’s catchy, loud and fast, with some relatable lyrics and a singalong chorus most bands would die for. It is almost an anthem for an emo generation. Whether that label’s fair or not, this is a damn fine tune, regardless of how seriously you take it. Plus, the video was pretty awesome…

4. “Cancer” (The Black Parade)

This might seem like an odd choice, as it’s one of the more simple, less experimental songs, from MCR’s most epic (in the grand sense of the word) album to date (we’ll see if that changes tomorrow). However, it’s beauty is in it’s simple, raw emotion. It was a side of My Chem we’d never seen before, and it was pulled off to perfection.

I still get shivers hearing how raw Gerard Way’s vocals are on the lines “Baby, I’m just soggy from the chemo/And counting down the days to go”. It’s an incredibley moving, blunt interpretation of someone dying of the awful disease, but MCR somehow capture all the right emotions beautifully. It could’ve come across as MCR trying too hard, or being too clichéd, but it someone worked perfectly.

5. “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back” (Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys)

This is possibly the track that got me most excited for MCR’s upcoming album. Seriously, listening to it again has already got me hyped for the album tomorrow. It combines the best of every era of the band. Even before the first chorus, we’ve had singalong “na na nas”, a “Mama”-esque guitar intro, and a throwback to the Bullets era with Gerard’s rough vocals.

It’s the heaviest MCR have sounded across the few songs officially broadcast by the band so far. “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na)” is catchier, but quite poppy. “The Only Hope For Me Is You” has the trance-influenced intro, although this does give way to one hell of a song. “SING” is an incredible ballad, but does feel like a new era.

This, meanwhile, embodies everything My Chem have been, and are becoming, right through to another typically great solo from Toro leading into a huge chorus. As far as MCR’s past tracks go, this could be one of their absolute best.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a video of this besides covers. I’ll try to update it once the album’s been released, as it’s more likely to turn up online.

Anyway, that does us for another edition of Key Tracks. If I’ve missed out your favourite, or think this was spot on, vent or praise in the comment section. Be sure to check around the rest of the site, as it’s getting more content every day, so hopefully you’ll find something else of interest. Check here for my first thoughts on Danger Days… ahead of its release tomorrow.

Posted in: General Rock, Punk