My Chemical Romance are back, and properly this time. They released their first single since their 2019 reunion, 'The Foundations of Decay', on 13 May 2022 and have embarked on a (somewhat bizarrely mapped) tour across the UK.
So, with MCR making their valiant return with what seems to be the setup for an upcoming album, it’s the perfect time to take a close, judgemental look at their already existing discography.
I see you, MCRmy, feverishly opening this article, cracking your knuckles, and preparing to type “well, actually, MCR doesn’t have a bad song”, but in this ranking battle there will be a winner. Hot takes will, in fact, be shared, and difficult choices will be made.
Before I begin, what are my qualifications? Why could I ever be regarded as the voice of reason amongst the chaos of the MCR fandom? What are the boundaries of this study and is the methodology sound?! Will somebody please think of the conceptual framework!
My Chemical Romance formed in 2001, and since then have released four studio albums, two live albums, (technically) six EPs, various singles, and three compilation albums. This article is only going to be ranking officially released tracks, so live recordings, repeats, and those with “demo” or “rough mix” in the title are going to be excluded. It would be a meaningless endeavour to try and compare “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” to the video extra “The Nintendo Fusion Tour” from Life On The Muder Scene.
Therefore, content that fits the criteria will be ranked from the following releases:
I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love
Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge
The Black Parade
Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
May Death Never Stop You
The Black Parade: The B-Sides
The Mad Gear and Missile Kid
and any unconnected single releases under the My Chemical Romance name.
This is an extremely serious task to undertake, and I am honoured to be bestowed with the duty. As for my qualifications, perhaps saying “I created my own Danger Days alter ego and would turn up to MCR fan events dressed as them” should suffice.
Are you ready to enter the trenches? Let's go!
79. 'Goodnite, Dr. Death' (Track #14, Danger Days)
“This is Dr. Death Defying, signing off”. Those words signify that the album Danger Days is over, leading into The Star-Spangled Banner to somehow, hopefully, thematically bookend the album. This slightly distorted rendition, reminiscent of old broadcasting sign-offs, lulls listeners into a false sense of security before culminating in the most heinous feedback errape. You lean in for a kiss goodbye and get punched square in the face. What a horrible way to sign off an albu-oh, wait, the album’s not over?
This is the only song by My Chemical Romance that actively elicits strong unwelcome feelings. It is a blight on their discography.
78. 'Interlude' (Track #8, Three Cheers)
If this is your favourite MCR song, you’re lying. Contributing a minute of arpeggiated chords and possibly lyrics, probably moaning, between two of the most intense songs on the album, this track simply doesn’t make sense.
77. 'Romance' (Track #1, Bullets)
The opening track of the band's first album is a cover of a 19th century guitar piece called 'Romance Anónimo' overlaid with crackling feedback. There are few words to describe this minute-long instrumental except for, perhaps, “nice”. It’s too short to establish any meaning, and overall is the kind of track you’d skip over.
76. 'Astro Zombies' (Featured on Tony Hawk: American Wasteland)
Unfortunately, MCR’s sound does not complement classic punk bands, and this Misfits cover lacks punch and feels cluttered. MCR overcomplicate the song through trying to make it their own; the convoluted drums stagnate the song’s original forward drive and Gerard’s vocals become garbled and unintelligible. It’s not a bad song, by any means, but this cover is entirely unremarkable.
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75. 'Cubicles' (Track #10, Bullets)
This song about office romance is just a bit naff, if I’m being honest. There isn’t much noticeable dynamic or tonal difference between the verses and choruses, and the song lacks memorable melodies. The inclusion of the ‘A’ chord during the line “vacant three-by-four” provides something interesting musically, gently hitting the ‘angst button’, but that’s about it.
74. 'We Don’t Need Another Song About California' (Bonus Track on Danger Days Deluxe)
This track sounds like the original song a band would slot into their first ever gig amidst 7-or-so covers. It’s fine, but there’s a reason it is an iTunes exclusive bonus track B-side for the Deluxe edition of Danger Days.
73. 'This Is the Best Day Ever' (Track #9, Bullets)
On this song MCR are determined to power through, full throttle, as fast as possible. Whilst you can distinguish different sections of the song, the complete lack of dynamic variation removes the ability for the song to escalate- something that, once they figure it out, defines MCR’s later sound. Because of this, this song’s listening experience feels like playing snap in a wind tunnel- musical themes are introduced, disappear, and are then replaced with 3 more before you have a chance to process the first. There’s no time to breathe- only time to GO GO GO!
72. 'The World Is Ugly' (Conventional Weapons Number Three)
This song is only so low on the list because ‘The Light Behind your Eyes’ (48) exists, achieving the same goal in a more successful manner. The song’s foundational phrase “the world is ugly but youre beautiful to me” feels like a slightly vapid backwards compliment that is hard to get behind. This is one of the times that you can tell ‘Conventional Weapons’ consists of polished demos.
71. 'SING' (Track #4, Danger Days)
This song’s chorus sucks. It’s hookless, with empty cheesy lyricism that fails to create the powerful message they obviously aimed for. There is promise in the song’s first 30 seconds, but then the word “Sing” is sung over 40 times until it melts into a sticky tasteless globule. This song’s only merits are the bridge and the career boost it gave MCR through Glee, and even then, that's tenuous.
70. 'Burn Bright' (Conventional Weapons Number Five)
MCR had one idea and then tried to continue it for 4 minutes: but hey, at least it is dynamically and musically interesting! The song builds, explores various defined sections, and has vocal layers that really add something enjoyable to the song.
69. 'Jet-Star And The Kobra Kid / Traffic Report' (Track #7, Danger Days)
The world building created in this track is crucial to the Danger Days experience and is just so much fun. All the elements — the jargon used, the soundscape created, the track’s placement — is immersive and helps sustain the album’s momentum. However, it’s an album track, better in reference to the whole than by itself.
68. 'F.T.W.W.W' (Track #1, The Mad Gear and Missile Kid EP)
This song has big guitars and fantastical lyrics, fitting the melodramatic glam rock drawl of vocalist Gerard Way. It’s clear that this song is an accessory to Danger Days: it's a loud and unapologetic interlude that grabs and shakes you. But, boiled down, it is just an interlude.
67. 'Every Snowflake Is Different (Just Like You)' (Featured on Yo Gabba Gabba! Hey!)
I know this looks like an insult to the previous entries on this list, but this song is just such a joy. It’s kitschy, cheesy, and garish in a knowing, tongue-in-cheek way, letting you know MCR are also in on the joke. The only question I have is: what is that weird effect on the vocals?
66. 'Drowning Lessons' (Track #4, Bullets)
This is one of the middling songs on MCR’s debut. Gerard sings about the contrasting topics of wedding and murder through laughter, inviting you into the angsty, brooding atmosphere. This song is grimy: it feels like an unattended DIY show in a cold, damp, basement...but at least it feels like something.
65. 'Black Dragon Fighting Society' (Track #3 on The Mad Gear and Missile Kid EP)
Starting with “I drink juice when I’m killing because it’s fucking delicious”, it is clear that this song does not take itself seriously, and so neither should you. It’s raucous and rambunctious, bouncing around within its limits, powering through with precision and purpose. This is what ‘Astro Zombies’ (76) should have been and it achieves what ‘This Is the Best Day Ever’ (73) attempted a decade before.
64. 'Surrender The Night' (Conventional Weapons Number Five)
This is a sturdy rock song that doesn’t try too hard to push boundaries. It’s interesting without forcing much mental exertion, its emphatic without being overwhelming, and its dense without being overproduced. It does it’s job, no more, no less.
63. 'Blood' (Hidden Track #14, The Black Parade)
Waiting exactly 1 minute and 30 seconds to start the song really gambles on the quality of my patience. However, I cannot overemphasise how much I desire to scream this song at the top of my lungs, fall to my knees, pound the floor with my fists, dance like a jester, and then do a backflip into a jazz hands finish.
62. 'Gun.' (Conventional Weapons Number Two)
This song's melody is triumphant in a really enjoyable way, only becoming unbearably cringey during the lines “I’ll tell you all about it when you fall in love” and “baby isn’t it crazy”. This bouncy danceable track has so much untapped potential to be misunderstood and misused by pro-gun protesters everywere! In fact, I’m not even sure I know with certainty quite what this song's message is…
61. 'Tomorrow’s Money' (Conventional Weapons Number One)
Conventional Weapons’ production really brings to life what could otherwise be good, but ultimately unspecial, rock songs. This is especially true on this track, with the precision of the drums packing so. Much. Punch. The rhythmically persistent ramp up to the clean staccato of “I stopped bleeding three years ago…” is glorious, primed for a jumping, yelling, mass to become one with the music.
60. 'Vampires Will Never Hurt You' (Track 3 on Bullets)
This song starts slow, but once it hits it's cathartic in a way that makes you want to thrash about, feeling all of your angsty feelings. As songs on Bullets go, this is one of the more complex and interesting compositions, with layers that take several listens to dig into. It almost feels too thought out to appear on their debut album.
EMBED VAMPIRES WILL NEVER
59. 'Look Alive, Sunshine' (Track #1, Danger Days)
I will never skip this song. I have learned every note of every second of this track. I always, without fail, yell along (or at least mouth the words if I am in public). The world building crammed into 30 seconds is mindblowing, and, combined with the soundscaping, is guaranteed to amp you up, sonically melting perfectly into Na Na Na and launching you into Danger Days at full throttle.
58. 'The Only Hope For Me Is You' (Track #6, Danger Days)
This triumphantly perillous and ethereally romantic track would never be a listener's first choice on an album so heavily stacked with bangers, but it should be known that it a brilliant song. It’s densely produced in a way that creates a haunted aire, making it a perfect contributor to it’s album, but not a particularly riveting standalone track.
57. 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' (Featured on Gift Wrapped: Regifted)
Yes, I know. However, this Mariah Carey cover takes an almost untouchable song and flips it on its head, providing the grit and speed that we love MCR for. After the release of this cover countless bands have tried to replicate it, but none have done it quite as well as MCR.
56. 'Under Pressure' (Single in collaboration with The Used)
I mean, talk about taking an untouchable classic and flipping it on its head… The way the second verse, “chippin’ around, kick my brains round the floor..” was reimagined not only makes it easier for us to belt along, but really benefits the angstier rendition. Who would’ve thought this song needed an emo accent?
55. 'Mastas Of Ravenkroft' (Track #2, The Mad Gear and Missile Kid EP)
Grabbed by the neck and dragged through a cultish initiation (this song moves fast) and before you know it you too are chanting “XOXOXOXO” enthusiastically, barely understanding how you got there. This song is a blast of sound that, if it were humanly possible, would blow your skin back taut on your face and singe your eyebrows off like it were a nuclear blast. It’s not complex, but neither is the blaze of the sun.
54. 'Early Sunsets Over Monroeville' (Track #10, Bullets)
This song feels like a sunset, but maybe over Gotham instead? Two minutes in listeners may be inclined to get bored, but MCR whip out their secret weapon: the “does anyone notice?” section. This introduces a slow build of Gerard Way belting, his voice breaking and cracking until he is screaming and the instrumental fades out, leaving him bearing his vulnerability alone.
53. 'Fake Your Death' (Track #1, May Death Never Stop You)
“Just look at all that pain”- the release of this song alongside MCR’s breakup was brutal for fans everywhere. The track feels like the band's graduation ceremony, celebrating what they have achieved but understanding that it's time to move on, and, honestly, it's a little heartbreaking. They don’t try to overcomplicate it — the song is simple but effective.
52. 'Skylines And Turnstiles' (Track #7 on Bullets)
This is the song that started it all for MCR, and it's pretty good. The vocal run up to the chorus is extremely satisfying, creating a barrier between other sections of the song and therefore helping elevate this track from confusing and messy to raw and personal.
51. 'Boy Division' (Conventional Weapons Number One)
Something about Gerard Way’s pronunciation is irresistibly compelling. Because of this, the zingy one liners that comprise this track become independent hooks, one after the other, for almost three minutes straight. It’s brilliant proof of what makes My Chemical Romance so alluring in the first place.
50. 'Teenagers' (Track #11, The Black Parade)
I know, I know, placing this track so low down might be the ultimate sin. But between the slightly cheesy lyricism of the chorus to the clap-along section post-bridge its seems like this song was written to appease a label requiring a palatable, marketable single. The lead in to the guitar solo and the solo itself are stand out moments, and the effect this song had on the bands career is notable, but otherwise I’m not convinced.
49. 'Desert Song' (Track #11, Life on the Muder Scene)
This beloved fan favourite deep-cut is moody and coarse, building into a belted, yet still instrumentally subdued, emotional explosion. The way that Gerard Way gasps “rocking out” after the build up is desperate and powerful, diminishing into a drawl that fits so well into what could’ve been a boring, skippable bonus track.
48. 'The Light Behind Your Eyes' (Conventional Weapons Number Three)
The band get a grip on their emotional ballad-writing on this track, managing to avoid the cringey lyricism that could sometimes previously seep through. Musically it's moody without being muddy, simple without being boring, and generally just a pretty solid cinematic-feeling track. Does it need to be as long as it is? That’s still up for debate.
47. 'Make Room!!!!' (Conventional Weapons Number Four)
Gerard Way’s voice becomes an additional percussive element in this song, with the hard staccato punctuation of “karate lessons with a killing machine” and the “ra-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta”s creating non-intrusive but texturally interesting layers. This song is a peak at what would later become Danger Days, an urgently cool vocal delivery and the band's first cheeky steps towards their rock ‘n’ roll inspirations.
46. 'The End.' (Track #1, The Black Parade)
As the album opener this song could have very easily been another ‘Romance’ (77), but so much is packed into such a short period of time, ending with a climax that is roughly abrupted by the second track, ‘Dead!’ (15). It’s a dramatic, purposeful, premonition of a folk song, and a genius starter to a classic album.
45. 'The Ghost Of You' (Track #8, Three Cheers)
This song feels a bit flacid and is musically muddy, never really leading anywhere, but somehow is a fan favourite… However, putting personal grudges aside and following previously laid criteria, MCR’s attempt at combining a powerful balad with their dramatic and gritty rock influence is surprisingly successful. Tonally it’s reminiscent of ‘I Gave You My Bullets…’ but vocally it achieves the drama of their subsequent album The Black Parade. It's elevated, mature, and an important step in the band's musical journey.
44. 'My Way Home Is Through You' (The Black Parade: B-Sides)
Gerard Way’s delivery really makes this track, with the early MCR grit combining with the band's improved musicality creating something really compelling. The first verse’s clunky lyricism reads like a selection of unrelated incongruous placeholders, but by the end of the song its not hard to be convinced to press “repeat”.
43. 'The Foundations of Decay' (Standalone Single)
Returning back to our ears after almost a decade we hear My Chemical Romance returning to their darker roots with an absolute saga of a song. This song works as a comeback: it touches on everything fans would associate with the band, transitioning from moodier and more sensitive movements into heavy breakdowns and melodic yearning, supported by folk tale-lyricism exploring the history of the band.
42. 'Our Lady Of Sorrows' (Track #5, Bullets)
This is one of the few tracks on the band’s debut that doesn’t feel physically greasy or disorganised. Defined musical ideas are clearly displayed one after the other, with the harmonised guitar solo, for example, hinting at the band’s future potential. This definition means that listeners actually have the chance to sing along, or even just the ability follow the song in the first place, and, y'know what? Early MCR is actually pretty good…
41. 'S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W' (Track #10, Danger Days)
This song is anthemic, with dreamy vocals that employ sigh-like cadences. It’s a purple sunset on a warm summer's evening and you can feel it bloom from your chest and spread like flowering vines through your body. To put it simply, this track has the same romantic nostalgia of ‘When The Day Met The Night’ by Panic! At The Disco that somehow instils a dreamy longing within.
40. 'Sleep' (Track #10, The Black Parade)
This song feels absolutely huge, like it is unapologetically echoing through an expansive apocalyptic wasteland. Beginning with tangible bitterness, the track builds until you can feel the anticipatory tension of the upcoming, unrelenting, emotional release of the bridge’s end which powerfully impacts without needing to be too dynamically harsh or distorted. Then the overwhelming commotion cuts out, and you are left with the guitar’s feedback reflecting the metaphorical ringing in your ears as you catch your breath.
39. 'Kiss The Ring' (Conventional Weapons Number Four)
This song is incredibly underrated. The rowdy Danger Days attitude combines with the complex musicality of ‘Three Cheers…’ leading to scorching riffs and boisterous vocal delivery that is perfected by the precise and uncluttered production. This song is filled to the brim with personality and good humour.
38. 'Disenchanted' (Track #12, The Black Parade)
And on your left you can see me falling to my knees, one hand clutched to my chest the other pointing to the sky, screaming “I hate the ending myself, but it started with an alright scene”. The exorcist has been called and is on their way.
37. 'Summertime' (Track #6, Danger Days)
There are few songs by MCR that can beat the lyricism of this one, and combined with the bright wistfulness of the instrumental you can’t help it — your heart begins to ache.
36. 'Cancer' (Track #8, The Black Parade)
The band approaches an extremely taboo topic with sensitivity, refusing to fall into the trap of glamourisation. Many fans who have experienced cancer have talked about their connection to the song: it's extremely powerful, melodically beautiful, and is guaranteed to trigger tears.
35. 'Heaven Help Us' (The Black Parade: B-Sides)
This song's lyrics plead melodramatically, and, combined with the melodic elements, elicit compelling emotional power. It’s almost like this song was written to be belted. During the line “cover me in gasoline / wipe away those tears of blood again” the vocal melody works in conjunction with the instrumental to create a major 7th chord on the G, leading into an augmented triad on the E- first evoking sentimentality and then striking tension. It’s genius and a shining example of why MCR are so beloved.
34. 'Cemetery Drive' (Track #12, Three Cheers)
My Chemical Romance really know how to pair an angsty verse with an emotionally belted chorus. On this track it is especially notable as, led by its iconic drum pattern, you know it would be too early to spend your energy on “way downnnnn”.
33. 'Hang ‘Em High' (Track #10, Three Cheers)
This track feels like riding a rollercoaster centralised on being hunted by an unhinged ghost cowboy: changes are sudden and without logical reasoning and you have no idea what to expect next. You may whip back and forth between musical themes, but each element is part of a cohesive whole, making it more exhilarating than terrifying.
32. 'The Jetset Life Is Gonna Kill You' (Track #7, Three Cheers)
One of MCR’s most powerful tools is Gerard Way’s theatricality. In fact, it could be argued that exhibitionism is at the core MCR, and this track’s vocals really do push those boundaries. From the whimpering bridge, to the second verse's prideful ascent, this track grows beyond its boundaries into a thoroughly immersive experience.
31. 'This Is How I Disappear' (Track #3, The Black Parade)
As we get over half way it has become harder to uniquely explain why each song is better than the last. Especially for the middle tracks. None have anything wrong with them and they are all certified bangers...but they’re not the bands best. So how can I explain that? This song’s bridge is great: I really like the bit where Gerard Way yells “you wanna see how far down I can sink? / let me go / fuck ”.
30. 'AMBULANCE' (Conventional Weapons Number Two)
This is the best song from Conventional Weapons. The “ah”s are thickly stacked and the musical elements are juicy, creating a victorious track that's at the perfect tempo to dance to. I don’t think I can say this enough, that verse melody is simply delicious.
29. 'It’s Not A Fashion Statement, It’s A Deathwish' (Track #7, Three Cheers)
This song is the perfect dichotomy between the gritty DIY roots the band came from and the thoughtful, purposeful production they were beginning to employ. The screaming isn’t overused: it fits perfectly with the more melodic sections. It’s also a banger, so…
28. 'Planetary (GO!)' (Track #5, Danger Days)
This is one of the few songs by MCR that is driven by its bassline, with the bouncy octave groove driving the song forward and creating danceability. This song feels like a party, and is the point in the band’s discography where sexuality starts to represent fun and freedom, compared to its previous appearances as dark and desperate.
27. 'The Kids From Yesterday' (Track #13, Danger Days)
This song feels like saying goodbye, like receiving closure and being satisfied with it. Complex and interesting guitar lines are used in ways that don’t overwhelm the song, and synths that sound like solar flares are just quiet enough that it still feels like a real band. It’s a gorgeous composition with an echoing arena sound.
26. 'Demolition Lovers' (Track #5, Bullets)
Now this is peak MCR. A weirdly grainy, seemingly simplistic, echoing ballad of someone slowly opening up, until, suddenly, everyone is playing at full pelt with no respect for dynamics. Gerard Way’s voice begins to crack as he screams, and suddenly the track is dissolving, piece by piece. Like it’s burning and turning to ash; it’s a derailed train, roaming without control.
25. 'Bulletproof Heart' (Track #3, Danger Days)
The bridge to this song must be one of my favourite things that MCR have created. You can hear Gerard Way’s powerfully withdrawn singing through grit teeth, lyrics like he himself is reaching out to the listener, and breathing between lines adding another rhythmic element to the already rhythmically complex instrumentation. All of these elements build, adding triumpant classic rock guitar licks and stacking harmonies, until they all drop out for the ultimate punch of “gravity don’t mean too much for me”.
24. 'Zero Percent' (Bonus Track on Danger Days)
For a song that is fast, loud, and unrelenting, MCR sound completely in control. Verses on this track are drawled or yelled, whilst choruses soar with charming melodic hooks, and lines like “this is the final stage” and “I hope you die” were made for yelling. The breakdown at the end of the song is a welcome extra: putting on hard breaks, collecting everyone together, and utilising the worked-up chaotic energy to punctuate the songs ending.
23. 'Headfirst For Halos' (Track #6, Bullets)
This is the first taste listeners get of the band’s penchant for the grandiose, complex guitar riffs, and their commanding sound. It’s messy in a way that encourages you to let go and kick and flail alongside it, only pausing for breath during the poppy handclap backbeat before returning to the deleriously escalating “think happy thoughts”.
22. 'Desolation Row' (Featured on the Watchmen Soundtrack)
I genuinely believe that this is how the original should have sounded: a wall of sound emanating from a dive bar, warning you about the riotous Desolation Row. This Bob Dylan cover actually explores a huge dynamic range, adding interest to an otherwise straightforward song, from the tense simmering of “at midnight all the agents and superhuman crew” to the abrasive drawl of the choruses.
21. 'The Sharpest Lives' (Track #4, The Black Parade)
Is this a perfect song? Well, I don’t think there’s room for improvements. The descending harmonic melody line in the verses, the post chorus fussing noises, the line “why don’t you blow me” pausing before continuing “a kiss before she goes”...All of it just elevates the song to an untouchable level.
20. 'Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back' (Track #9, Danger Days)
This was my favourite MCR song for a long time, and may be one of the most interestingly composed pieces they’ve created. A B7 appears for the first time in the chorus, causing a sentimental pinnacle, and your ear expects the next chord to resolve to an Em, but it lands on D instead, creating a feeling of apprehension. So, combined with hopeful lyrics about sentimentality, sacrifice, and prevailing over your struggles, this song is fraught with conflicting emotion and general uncertainty. The music and lyrics mirror eachother in a way that enhances their effect, with the lyrics guiding the narrative, presenting a battle that is tough, but overall, will be won. It’s triumphant, empowering, and makes you feel like you can take on the world.
19. 'I Don’t Love You' (Track #6, The Black Parade)
This song is a powerfully emotional balad that isn’t soppy, it’s tender. It’s soft without being malleable. It’s an anti-love song posed as a love song, and it’s an absolute belter.
18. 'Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough For The Two Of Us' (Track #2, Bullets)
So, the top choice from I Brought You My Bullets…, eh? This song is so incredibly raw, but, among a copious amount of screaming, it also allows itself time to become vulnerable. It’s multifaceted whilst still being a perfect example of the unfiltered, unpolished, early MCR. The low-end-heavy guitars and bouncy bass tone are reminiscent of early 2000s DIY bands, reminding you that you are hearing something special, a time capsule from before the introduction of fancy production and targeted branding. You feel special, like you’re onto something real.
17. 'Kill All Your Friends' (The Black Parade: B-Sides)
This song feels like a resignation to the unfortunate aspects of life. It begs the question “what do we gain from being miserable?” and suggests celebrating the good times instead of mourning their end, even though the frustration is tangible. The chorus slowly changing as the song progresses, from “it’s been 8 bitter years since I’ve been seeing your face” to eventually “it’s been 10 fucking years since I’ve been seeing your face ‘round here”, is such a clever way to build emotion without having to employ dynamics. There’s palpable emotion bubbling under the surface of this song, with the yelled “you’re so cool”s being the only moment that Gerard Way lets those complex emotions boil over. It’s truly something special.
16. 'To The End' (Track #3 on Three Cheers)
If I told you this track came out in 2004 you may be surprised too; it just feels like its ahead of its time. Many songs by MCR can feel rushed, or like a whirlwind adventure, and those that aren’t often fall flat. In fact, MCR’s trademark sound could be described as a frenzied feverish mania. However, this track is balanced in a way that allows the listener to run alongside, rather than being caught up in the storm. It’s extremely quotable and fun to participate in, and that’s what led to it’s high ranking.
15. 'Dead!' (Track #2 on The Black Parade)
Talking of songs that are fun to participate in, this is one of those songs where you sing the vocals and the instrumental flourishes, delighting in the joy of gasping for breath after the solo, and throwing your hands in the air for “if life ain’t just a joke then why are we laughing?” outro. Theres something about the crispness of the cymbals and hi-hats that keeps the song bouncy and light, whilst the biting guitar tone is bright enough to reinforce the classic rock tone. After all these years the fan-made lyric video by Black Balloon has stuck with me, I will forever insert my own *ding* and related sound effects.
14. 'Helena' (Track #1, Three Cheers)
There’s a reason why this track is so widely beloved: it truly exemplifies the fall-to-your-knees music-makes-you-lose-control power of My Chemical Romance. From singing so soft it feels like it could break off, to belting so unrestrained it feels like possession, there is never a moment where Gerard Way rests on his laurels. Through every breath that wasn’t cut, to the intimate tremolo of the bridge, listeners can’t help but align with the song, pleading until they too are blue in the face. The half time instrumental in the chorus fits perfects alongside the drawn-out vocals, allowing the song space to breathe and making what comes next all that more impactful. No one else could have executed a song like this — truly no one does it like My Chemical Romance.
13. 'I Never Told You What I Do For A Living' (Track #13, Three Cheers)
This song triggers an almost animalistic urge within me to just start sprinting, regardless of where I am or if it’s appropriate. It manages to be rhythmically complex and diverse without stagnating, like they took the energy and relentless pacing of punk and improved its musical complexity. At 116bpm it’s not even a fact paced song, but the raw energy compressed into its four minute run is staggering. However, the crucial element that makes this song so great is Gerard Way’s adlibs. Long drawn out notes are replaced with sob-like punches and rhythmic drawling laughter that punctuate the overriding rhythmicality of the track.
12. 'Give ‘Em Hell, Kid' (Track #2, Three Cheers)
The bass on this song is chunky and fills up the sonic space in a really exciting way, driving the song. So many otherwise compository parts are given brief moments to shine in this way, such as the post-chorus hard panned guitar or the quirky bridge interjections of “wuh-oh”. All these seemingly average elements elevate the track from a regular rock song to an experience you could listen to a hundred times and always spot something new. Also, just in general, this song is a catchy banger that sounds good, and that's enough to have it rate so highly.
11. 'DESTROYA' (Track #12, Danger Days)
This song is like nothing else MCR have created. Led by drums inspired by the Hindu festival of Holi, this song’s central rhythm is invigorating and completely enveloping. The interlocking rhythms between the instruments are anarchic yet provide a sturdy foundation for Gerard Way’s compelling yelled vocal performance: every aspect of the track feels like everyone was playing as hard as they physically could.
This song takes risks in its experimentality, and that’s what makes this song so electrifying. You can hear it slowly approaching, building, warning you before it hits and suddenly hard-panned vocals split into opposing vocals lines waging war in each ear. On loud enough speakers I genuinely believe this song could scalp me, it really amps you up like nothing else.
10. 'House of Wolves' (Track #7, The Black Parade)
This song is also unlike anything else the band have released and is severely underrated. At its core is an adaptation of a walking bassline, contributing controlled movement and an almost bluesy big band vibe. Stacked on top of this is one of the band’s greatest guitar performances, with the wailing guitar cutting through during the outro to twist the track into a blazing rapture. Clever lyricism corrupting childhood imagery is delivered with dense harmonic layers and an almost indulgently smug attitude, with “r”s being rolled and whispers delivered with audible grins. Even down to small decisions like choosing a tom-heavy drum sound, every aspect seems perfectly augmented to inject pure adrenaline.
9. 'Vampire Money' (Track #15, Danger Days)
This is love song to classic rock legends and is probably as close as you’re going to get to an audible party. Immediately the band reference ‘Ballroom Blitz’ by Sweet in a now iconic opening, setting up the rock ‘n’ roll foundation of the song with a cheeky twist that welcomes you to the party at the end of the world. References peppered throughout the song mention Marc Bolan, David Bowie, and even Volvo in brazen dig towards Twilight’s soundtrack proposition. What's so enjoyable about this track is that you feel like you are in on the joke, like you are standing in crowd and participating in the party, and even when the song ends it sounds like you have been having such a blast that the police have arrived to shut the party down. It doesn’t sound overcomposed or clean, it is a song that is loud and messy that inspires yelling and dancing and truly letting go.
8. 'Famous Last Words' (Track #13, The Black Parade)
This song is truly a masterpiece. Every aspect of it is notable and it would take a several thousand word essay to truly explain why this song hits the way it does. However, to focus on a key element, the true cherry on top of this track is the vocal production. MCR have always enjoyed complex vocal stacking, even down to some basic “ah”s buried in the mix, but on this track they take this to another level. The track would not be as beautiful or as powerful as it is without the harmonies, countermelodies, and stacked vocals. Even when Gerard Way sings alone the quiet plosive of “asleep” in the bridge, it is intimate and impactful. There are so many special moments throughout this song. I wish I had the space and time to touch on the guitar solo, or any aspect of the guitar for example, and I know I have been restraining myself from discussing music videos, but come on. What a package deal of a single!
7. 'I’m Not Okay (I Promise)' (Track #5, Three Cheers)
The song that keeps Gerard Way’s therapist driving a Lexus. This may just be the quintessential MCR track. This song’s melody lines up with its lyrics to achieve ultimate catharsis: with “you sing the words but don’t know what it means”, for example, a raising melody that allows the final words to be emotionally belted. This prosody is what fills the song with tiny moments of brilliance that only Gerard Way’s tempestuous vocal delivery could achieve. In what other emo-adjacent song around 2004 was there a guitar solo comprised of two guitars playing in harmonic thirds? Exactly.
6. 'Party Poison' (Track #8, Danger Days)
More classic rock references punctuate this punchy rock anthem, instilling the ultimate desire to jump as hard as you physically can. The bravado of Danger Days is truly on display, with lyrics that make you feel invincible in the face of adversity (“life is short, and there are many dangers on the roads we travel, so lets dance!”). This song is a rallying cry to pick yourself up and return with a vengage, with yelled Japanese sections facilitating outrageous world building. This thumping glamorous garage-punk track is regarded by the band as one of their best, and I agree.
5. 'Mama' (Track #9, The Black Parade)
From the second verse’s croaky vocal doubles to the Liza Minnelli feature, this is the ultimate theatrically over-dramatic MCR song. It seems like this song's final creation was created by luck, like only a certain series of events could have happened to provoke such a deranged composition. From Liza Minelli’s spontaneously recorded crying in the song’s outro, to guitarist Ray Toro implementing a guitar tone so high only dogs can hear it, this song is completely ridiculous and I, honestly, have no idea why it works so well.
4. 'Na Na Na' (Track #2, Danger Days)
This song leaves a blazing hot trail in its wake. Its guitars are roaring, its vocals are defiant, and its method is unapologetic. Providing masses of world building for Danger Days whilst still standing on its own as a brilliant track, this song is guaranteed to improve your day. The bridge can only be described as a religious experience, with this song's outstanding guitar work receiving a moment to shine in a Brian May-esque whirling tempestuous build into a delicious solo backed by unrelenting, thumping drums.
This is the moment where the song is given space to breathe, only filled by a purposeful descending chromatic scale. It feels like the brewing of a storm, and there is something exciting about its power…There is so much control displayed in the riproaring chaos of this track, and combined with politically intelligent lyrics this song is truly hard to beat.
3. 'You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison' (Track #5, Three Cheers)
This track is an absolute party, like a dark equivalent to the celebratory tracks on Danger Days. It features some really great, but weirdly placed, emphasis — for example in “life is but a dream for the dead”, the entire band comes in on “dream” after the first words are knowingly whispered. It keeps you on your toes and provides opportunities to yell and thrash after a tense, anticipatory pause, as if on a stake-out. This track is musically extremely tight, with strong lyrical storytelling, and a falteringly cocky overtone. It is absolute chaos in a really enjoyable way.
2. 'Thank You For The Venom' (Track #9, Three Cheers)
This song starts at 11 with a riff so sharp and biting you risk going into fight or flight. It then suddenly drops off into a faltering vocal before slamming back in like, though you didn’t realise, you’re bungy jumping and your stomach just caught up. It exhilarating, and it all happens within the first 20 seconds. There is nothing quite like singing along to the chorus, with “you’ll never make me leave” a really strong candidate for ‘song that commands you to tightly ball your fists, screw your eyes closed, and belt along’ — especially during the chorus where the instrumental cuts out. It is a complete and utter masterpiece, not one moment of this song is simply “fine”.
1. 'Welcome To The Black Parade' (Track #5, The Black Parade)
Look, I didn’t think that this would end up as number 1 either. However, as I considered what makes My Chemical Romance’s songs so powerful, I realised I was ticking them all off in this track. I cannot express how brilliant this song is — maybe we all forgot how perfect it is due to overplaying, but theres a reason it is constantly being played. It is not ambitious to state that the guitar line is one of the greatest musical compositions in history. Throughout the song, it transitions between grandiose, delicate, energetic, gritty, and even takes a secondary supportive role at times. The guitar stabs in the verses, between “decamated dreams” and “your misery and hate” for example, are such fun little flirty additions to the track.
The drums are imperative to this song, with the tom fill in the chorus between “we’ll carry on” and “and though you’re broken and defeated” begging you to drum along, pinpointing yet another beloved quirky moment. The vocal harmonies during “on and on, we carry through the fears” are unexpected but brighten a section filled with lower toned instruments, creating a sing-songy effect, and the stacked harmonies and interjections throughout the track make it feel truly jubilant. Notably, the “do or die, you’ll never make me” section has to be the ultimate moment of tears streaming down your face, hands raised to the sky, screaming until your lungs simply give out...and even then, the guitar solo played in harmony just uplifts the entire section, raising the stakes until there's something almost religious about it.
It’s just a perfect song, and I'm not sorry that it has been placed first. This song is the closest any band has ever got to creating an epic as great as 'Bohemian Rhapsody', and displays the true musical genius of My Chemical Romance.
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