Why I Love My Chemical Romance

by Jennifer Cooke

27 August 2009

Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mall-Rock

I get a lot of flack for loving My Chemical Romance. As a 37-year-old woman who runs with a decidedly indie-rock-snob crowd, there is no end to the taunts when someone spots The Black Parade in between the Mudhoney and New Pornographers CDs. Not for nothing is there little mention of MCR on PopMatters, and not even the release that broke them worldwide, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, rates a review. “Real” music fans simply do not acknowledge such adolescent pablum, and rarely will they even deign to ridicule it. Mall-rock, they call it. Any band with bags full of Warner Brothers’ money behind it, that can fill stadiums with teenagers the world over and sell T-shirts hand over fist at Hot Topic, forfeits any right to serious appraisal. Even my hairstylist calls them My Chemical Tightpants.

So what happened to me? I heard “Helena” on the radio back when it was released in 2004, and found the chorus stuck in my head at all hours of the day and night. Later on, a friend, whose indie rock cred is airtight in my book, divulged (gasp!) that she was a fan. I bought the aforementioned Three Cheers, and that was all she wrote. I bought a car over a year ago that’s never seen another disc in slot #3 of it’s stereo. I have to wrestle with my nine-year-old son and my four-year-old daughter over who gets to wear which My Chem shirt on any given day.
What can I say? I am just a sucker for hyper-literate nerd-boys whose idea of the ultimate band is the Misfits fronted by Morrissey. Boys who don’t have a cynical bone in their collective body, and who wear their (great) influences on their sleeves, along with a deadly earnest and sincere desire to save people’s lives with their unabashed message of hope. Singer Gerard Way’s well-publicized triumph over depression, alcoholism and addiction does more for his legion of fans steering clear of drugs than a thousand “Just Say No” campaigns ever could.

Add to this an effortless ability to construct perfect pop choruses and guitar chops to choke a horse, a penchant for way-over-the-top theatricality, and a guest appearance by LIZA MINNELLI (on The Black Parade track “Mama”)... and you will know what has reduced me to a puddle of fangirl on the floor. I await their forthcoming CD, as yet untitled but tentatively scheduled for release in early 2010, with great anticipation and frequent visits to the band’s website for progress reports. Something tells me I won’t have to fight any fellow PopMatters contributors for dibs on that review.

So yeah, I drank the Kool-Aid. I went and became a rabid Alkaline Trio fan not long after discovering My Chem.  Taking Back Sunday, too. Hopeless!

However, I am listening to the new Deer Tick CD as I write this, so all is not lost.

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