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Music

The Top 15 Songs of My Chemical Romance

It's been more than a year since My Chemical Romance decided to lay down their instruments, and PopMatters looks back on some of their finest moments.

My Chemical Romance was a band that was doomed from the start. From their manic 2002 debut (I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love) to their final escape off into the sunset (Danger Days), MCR always sounded like a steam engine careening off of a cliff. Lead singer and showman Gerard Way’s unhinged vocal style felt fresh out of an asylum, complimenting his macabre, twisted imagery. The band never quite fit into any genre or anywhere in general. And that was perfectly fine by them.

Eternally the outsiders, My Chemical Romance always played by their own rules above all else. Constantly slapped with the “emo” categorization (a label that the band particularly loathed), My Chemical Romance were in reality the spirit of punk rock incarnate. Their identity was in perpetual flux (particularly during the latter part of their careers), re-envisioning themselves for every album, never content to stay the same. They shoved the very boundaries of what “punk” could mean.

A little more than a year has passed since Way announced that My Chemical Romance was hanging up their coats for good. With five distinct albums to their name, the band left us with a concise but impactful discography that warrants repeated listens. This week Way released his solo debut Hesitant Alien which sees him follow a more Britpop route, while the remainder of the group (Ray Toro, Frank Iero, and Mikey Way) all have projects due out in the near future. Perhaps there is life after MCR. But it’s impossible to forget the music they’ve left us with from the years they brought their talents (and angst) together.

 
15. “Make Room!!!!”
(Conventional Weapons, 2013)

You have no choice but to pay attention to Way and Co. as they make themselves the lives of the party on “Make Room!!!!”. Their snot-nosed attitudes and searing guitars put a vice grip on center stage and refuse to let go. It’s hard to comprehend that this song (and Conventional Weapons as a whole) was never intended to see the light of day, especially when this is one of their most animated moments on record.

 
14. “You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison”
(Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, 2004)

On Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, MCR rarely used the quiet-to-loud aesthetic as effectively as they do on this track. What opens with a delicate, staccato piano soon spirals into all-out chaos. If “life is but a dream” according to the lyrics, the band make existence sound like an absolute nightmare.

 
13. “I Don’t Love You”
( The Black Parade, 2006)

Leave it to MCR to make an anti-love song ring as potently as an ode to a significant other. With laid-back drums and a guitar opening that’s reminiscent of Coldplay’s “Yellow” (albeit a tad more forceful), Way lyrically parts ways with a lover.

 
12. “Our Lady of Sorrows”
(I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, 2002)

There was an early gift for melody buried underneath the rapid-fire guitars and Way’s throaty screaming. During the recording process for their gritty debut, I Brought You My Bullets…, the frontman suffered from a tooth abcess, making his howls on the track all the more authentic. Running just over two minutes, the entire band sounds like they’re sprinting for their lives.

 
11. “Mama”
( The Black Parade, 2006)

The gothic “Mama” sounds like it could be part of the soundtrack for a musical directed by Tim Burton (hell, even Broadway veteran Liza Minnelli makes a cameo). Vaudevillian verses mesh with a rousing, fiery chorus that’s vintage MCR. It’s hard to distinguish initially, but the verses fall into a traditional blues pattern that make this tune sound all the more like a haunting folk song.

 
10. “House of Wolves”
( The Black Parade, 2006)

Is it just me or does it sound like Way is grinning maniacally when singing some of his gloomiest songs? Look no further than “House of Wolves” to illustrate my point. Way yawps as if he’s a frenzied pastor preaching to a choir. Scorched guitars and menacing drums make this garage rock from Hell.

 
9. “Planetary (Go!)”
(Danger Days, 2010)

Yes, your hearing is correct -- that’s a dance beat. A neon sheen illuminates the majority of Danger Days, but the songs on the album never relinquish the sharpened edge that MCR developed over the course of the records prior to its release. With all of their cylinders fully functioning. “Planetary (Go!)” finds the band cranking their music into hyperdrive.

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