Every so often I make up a mix CD of my favorite songs at the moment; mostly new songs, but with some old songs sprinkled in for flavor. I thought it’d be a neat feature of this new blog to go through, song-by-song, and explain a little about why it appeals to me.
I’ve been following My Chemical Romance for a few years now. I was first exposed to them by their video for “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” on Fuse’s year-end countdown list in 2005. I thought the video was clever and the song catchy. (For those following along at home, MCR is definitely emo from the start. Notice a pattern at the end of this mix CD?) They followed up that single with the excellent songs (and equally excellent videos) “Helena” and “The Ghost of You”. But even after three strong showings, I didn’t really consider My Chemical Romance, who had tendencies toward the goth side of emo, anything really special.
In the fall of last year, MCR launched a massive promotional campaign for their new album “The Black Parade”. At the beginning, it was shrouded in mystery, but it eventually became clear that the album would be a concept—a rock opera, if you will—with the central theme being death and dying, and the “story” concerns a young man slowly wasting away from cancer. (What else would you expect from a goth/emo band, really?) The result was all but a masterpiece, blending influences from earlier MCR work with 70s chords and rhythms, a la Queen. Over-the-top and campy, but in just the right places so that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Not a second is wasted on the album.
The first single was rightfully “Welcome to the Black Parade”, My Chemical Romance’s biggest hit to date. Continuing in the band’s tradition, the video is just as strong, even employing the acting of Lukas Haas as The Patient. But it’s not the strongest track on the album. For the capstone for my summer CD, I went to the best final track I’ve heard in recent memory: “Famous Last Words”. As the second single, it wasn’t the most successful track of the album chart-wise. However, the message of hope and determination is undeniably powerful. The video is just as strong. The videos for the two songs were filmed back-to-back, and do create an overall narrative of sorts.
I am not afraid to keep on living
I am not afraid to walk this world alone
Honey if you stay I’ll be forgiven
Nothing you can say can stop me going home