This should have been a big year for My Chemical Romance fans. After almost seven years out of the spotlight following a breakup after the band’s final (for now) album ‘Danger Days’, emo’s finest disappeared into the dark. Late last year, after fans put together enough summoning circles, the band announced a series of now-postponed shows that sold out in seconds.
It’s a long wait until next June, so until then (barring a surprise announcement) My Chemical Romance fans are looking for a way to get their fix. Across four records, they perfected their theatrical, over-the-top approach to concept albums, redefining rock music and inspiring a generation of emo to come.
We’ve ranked all of the actual songs from those four albums here, from worst to best. Feel free to disagree; a strong likelihood if you’re more into ‘Danger Days’ than ‘Three Cheers’ or ‘Bullets’. In which case, congratulations on being younger than me.
46. ‘Destroya’ – (‘Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’)
Occasionally referred to as a self-empowerment anthem, ‘Destroya’ is built around drums and strongly inspired by Holi festival… while functioning as a criticism of religion. It’s a weird one and it isn’t very good.
45. ‘Vampire Money’ – (‘Danger Days’)
So incensed were My Chemical Romance at being asked to write a song for a Twilight movie that they wrote ‘Vampire Money’, a very 2010 attack on the saga. It is hard to understand how anyone could get so upset about that and then write a song that features in a Transformers movie on the same record, but either way, the song sucks.
44. ‘Planetary (Go!)’ – (‘Danger Days’)
Maybe the big weakness of ‘Danger Days’ is that it works so well as a high concept, high gloss comic book-esque story that it rarely works as an actually listenable album. ‘Planetary (Go!)’ is nothing short of annoying. It’s beat-driven and sounds a bit like an air raid siren, having a lot more in common with MCR’s feature on kids’ show Yo Gabba Gabba! than any of their music.
43. ‘This Is the Best Day Ever’ – (‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’)
Dipping back into the Bonnie and Clyde-esque storyline of ‘Bullets’, ‘This is the Best Day Ever’ is not the best song on the album – far from it, it’s pretty repetitive and distorted. A bonus, though, is that it only lasts two minutes.
42. ‘Sing’ – (‘Danger Days’)
‘Sing’ is a weird one. Its verses are unusually lo-fi for the over-the-top ridiculousness of ‘Danger Days’, but its anthemic, feel-good chorus of “sing it for the boys/sing it for the girls/every time that you lose it sing it for the world” makes it feel a bit Live 8. Maybe it’s not a surprise that it was covered on Glee. Still, it’s catchy.
41. ‘Cubicles’ – (‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’)
‘Cubicles’ is, for some reason, an anthem for office romances gone south. Maybe send it over to someone you had a crush on, the sounds of Way screaming “you don’t work here anymore” and “sometimes I think I’ll die alone” either letting them know how you feel, or forcing them to report you to HR.
40. ‘Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)’ – (‘Danger Days’)
After brief intro ‘Look Alive, Sunshine’ sets the scene in post-apocalyptic California, ‘Na Na Na’ sees Gerard Way in his comic book element. A fast, punk-inspired track written by Way in the desert in a time of desperation, ‘Na Na Na’ and its stadium-ready chorus are annoying on first listen, but it’s kind of an anthem.
39. ‘S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W’ – (‘Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’)
Gerard Way has called ‘S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W’ the album’s art piece, and maybe he isn’t wrong. With touches of both Queen and The Beatles, it has the feel of a children’s nursery rhyme. It’s a huge, weird, psychedelic track that captures the feelings of the Killjoys if you’re paying attention to that side of things.
38. ‘Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back’ – (‘Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’)
The best tracks on ‘Danger Days’, or at least the most listenable ones for older fans, are the ones that sound more like songs than part of the larger picture of the album. ‘Save Yourself’ recycles the “Na Na Na”s of ‘Na Na Na’ track, but with so much energy and power that it’s hard not to love it.
37. ‘The Only Hope for Me is You’ – (‘Danger Days’)
Much to their OG fans’ chagrin, My Chemical Romance got pretty commercial on their last album. ‘The Only Hope for Me is You’ is a very listenable pop punk song, featuring seamlessly on the Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon soundtrack.
37. ‘Drowning Lessons’ – (‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’)
‘Drowning Lessons’ introduces the story of ‘Bullets’ – two murderers (in love, naturally) who are shot down in the desert. In hindsight, with lines like, “we can wash down this engagement ring/with poison and kerosene,” ‘Drowning Lessons’ set the stage for emo as we knew it in the mid-00s.
36. ‘Bulletproof Heart’ – (‘Danger Days’)
With touches of Wicked’s ‘Defying Gravity’, ‘Bulletproof Heart’ explores the possibilities of ‘Danger Days’ in a huge, ambitious track full of synths and powerful guitars. It’s a lot of fun, and it’ll have you imagining that you’re running through the desert with My Chemical Romance.
35. ‘Party Poison’ – (‘Danger Days’)
Named for Gerard Way’s Killjoy persona, ‘Party Poison’ is kinda undeniable – it shows just how much fun the band were having with their post-apocalyptic reinvention. It’s an older song but with the introduction of a character who contributes spoken Japanese, and as such it embodies the fun, fast, guitar-first punk spirit of early My Chemical Romance.
34. ‘Summertime’ – (‘Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’)
‘Summertime’ is a fairly straightforward emo love song which Way has called the ‘most personal’ on the record, and it shows – with lyrics about his wife, Lyn-Z, it’s a sweet, soft track with tinkling synths that offers respite from the go-for-broke spirit of the album.
33. ‘Sleep’ – (‘The Black Parade’)
Opening with piano and muffled recordings of Gerard Way talking about the night terrors he experienced while recording ‘The Black Parade’ in a haunted mansion (!), ‘Sleep’ becomes a fairly straightforward track. On an album that could easily be adapted into a musical, it’s kinda boring.
32. ‘House of Wolves’ – (‘The Black Parade’)
Allegedly setting up “The Patient”’s arrival in hell after a less-than-wholesome life, “House of Wolves” deals with innocence, sin, and the duality of man. It’s a fast, almost jazzy song that plays again with the guitar distortion My Chem. love so much. It’s fine.
31. ‘Early Sunsets Over Monroeville’ – (‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’)
After a whole lot of noise and post-hardcore chaos on ‘I Brought You Bullets…’, ‘Early Sunsets’ brings things down a notch for a melodic, slow, almost-love song, with a murderous twist. Also zombies: Gerard Way describes it as “a sweet song about Dawn of the Dead”. It’s one of the most standout tracks on ‘Bullets’.
30. ‘This is How I Disappear’ – (‘The Black Parade’)
Inspired by the séances that Harry Houdini’s wife would perform to contact him after he died (true story), ‘This is How I Disappear’ sees My Chemical Romance returning to their distorted, heavy, camp-bloody roots. It’s catchy, but after the massive first two tracks, it feels small somehow.
29. ‘Cancer’ – (‘The Black Parade’)
‘The Black Parade’ follows a character, “The Patient”, as he dies and heads to hell. Perhaps the most literal exploration of The Patient’s illness, piano ballad ‘Cancer’ is… pretty graphic. It’s a melancholic song about the very real effects of disease, which is somewhat depressing, but effective.
28. ‘The Ghost of You’ – (‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’)
Dealing with genuine grief and heartbreak, ‘The Ghost of You’ is the most sincere track on ‘Three Cheers’. As such, it feels somewhat out of place, but it goes pretty hard for the chorus. Its million-dollar Marc Webb directed wartime video only adds more questions.
27. ‘Skylines and Turnstiles’ – (‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’)
My Chemical Romance’s origin story is pretty famous: Gerard Way was inspired, and traumatised, by witnessing the 9/11 attacks. ‘Skylines’, deals most explicitly with 9/11 and is full of some pretty stark imagery (“steel corpses stretch out towards an ending sun/scorched and black“) and some very real feelings.
26. ‘Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough for the Two of Us’ – (‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’)
After ‘Romance’, a gentle instrumental intro of unknown origin, My Chemical Romance’s debut album goes in hard. ‘Honey’, the album’s second single, is nearly four minutes of pure screaming about drugs, drinking and chaos. It’s rougher than the band’s later, more polished tracks, but all the feeling is there.
25. ‘The Sharpest Lives’ – (‘The Black Parade’)
A fast-paced punk song that harks back to My Chemical Romance’s origins, ‘The Sharpest Lives’ is an ode to living on a knife edge and all the hell and self-destruction that comes with it. With distorted guitars building to a massive chorus, it’s a strong song in an album of many of them.
24. ‘I Don’t Love You’ – (‘The Black Parade’)
Recorded on a tour bus, ‘I Don’t Love You’ is My Chem.’s purest broken-hearted power ballad. Seemingly outside of the concept of the album, it’s a fairly straightforward attempt at portraying a very visceral, real heartbreak, and it’s an incredibly good one. Try not to cry.
23. ‘Mama’ – (‘The Black Parade’)
Does ‘Mama’ gain a point for a Liza Minnelli feature? Absolutely. But it also plays with Jewish influences and is generally a chaotic, fun, ridiculous song replete with a mother’s (Minnelli) sobs, a shouting section and the crackle of an old-fashioned radio.
22. ‘Vampires Will Never Hurt You’ – (‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’)
‘Bullets…’ first single and Gerard Way’s “favourite song of all time”, ‘Vampires’ deviated from the album’s mythology, focusing instead on the undead. More akin to the band’s post-hardcore origins than the emo most associate them with, Way’s wails of “can you stake my heart?” are an art.
21. ‘Give ‘Em Hell, Kid’ – (‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’)
It’s hard to follow ‘Helena’, but ‘Give ‘Em Hell, Kid’, the second track on ‘Three Cheers…’, manages to keep up the energy while introducing the concept of ‘Three Cheers…’, the story of a man and woman who are (after ‘Bullets’) separated by death, the husband going to hell.
20. ‘Dead!’ – (‘The Black Parade’)
‘The Black Parade’, arguably My Chem’s most successful (and enjoyable) concept album, is rooted in something completely and utterly of our world: cancer. Following “The Patient” as he heads towards his end, it’s pretty miserable as a concept, but as far as ‘Dead!’ goes… well, it slaps, and it belongs in a musical.
READ MORE: THE BEST EMO SONGS EVER
19. ‘Hang ‘Em High’ – (‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’)
If ‘The Black Parade’ is a rock opera, ‘Three Cheers’ is an emo western. ‘Hang ‘Em High’ is its centrepiece, a Clint Eastwood-inspired track that serves as a reminder that there are zero duds on ‘Three Cheers…’. Plus, that scream at the end.
18. ‘Teenagers’ – (‘The Black Parade’)
Unusually catchy for My Chem., ‘Teenagers’ is a very fun pop punk song about… school shootings: “It’s about a really big problem in America where kids are killing kids. The only thing I learned in high school is that people are very violent and territorial,” said Way of the lyrics. Still, it’s a feeling also experienced if you scroll through TikTok in your late 20s.
17. ‘The Jetset Life is Gonna Kill You’ – (‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’)
Dealing with Gerard Way’s heavy drug and alcohol use, ‘Jetset’ sits outside of the album’s concept but still takes inspiration from Old West-style music. In the bridge, Way’s playful, weird vocals point towards ‘Three Cheers…’ great strength: it’s a whole mess, and it’s a beautiful one.
16. ‘Disenchanted’ – (‘The Black Parade’)
With a big, powerful rock chorus of “you’re just a sad song with nothing to say/about a life-long wait for a hospital stay”, ‘Disenchanted’ is a somber, tongue-in-cheek rumination on the meaningless of life as “the patient” heads towards his end. It’s where ‘The Black Parade’ really earns its title of “rock opera”.
15. ‘To the End’ – (‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’)
‘Three Cheers’ is both My Chemical Romance’s best record and the best emo album of all time. A fast-paced track ostensibly about the protagonist crashing a wedding to murder a bunch of people, ‘To the End’ perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the most exciting, darkest, weirdest emo album of the mid-00s.
14. ‘It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Fucking Deathwish’ – (‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’)
The first song the band wrote after ‘Bullets’, ‘It’s Not a Fashion Statement’ keeps the chaotic, Western, post-hardcore energy of their debut. The title is, presumably, a nod to the way that both the band and their dedicated fans chose to dress at a time when it was genuinely dangerous. The song itself, linked to the overarching concept, goes so hard.
13. ‘Helena’ – (‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’)
Carefully straddling goth and emo, ‘Helena’ (the song) is maybe slightly less iconic than ‘Helena’ (the video), in which a beautiful, very eyeliner-ed woman gets out of her coffin to dance through a church. Still, ‘Helena’ the song is a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to Mikey and Gerard’s late grandmother, and that distorted bridge of “can you hear me/are you near me” will forever break hearts.
12. ‘The End.’ – (‘The Black Parade’)
Opening with a song called ‘The End.’ is a pretty bold move, even for My Chemical Romance, especially when it’s this huge. Building from the beep beep of a heart monitor, it’s a Queen and David Bowie-inspired track that manages to set the dramatic tone of the record in less than two minutes.
11. ‘You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison’ – (‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’)
Opening with just Gerard’s voice and a quiet guitar, ‘You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison’ builds to chaos, featuring The Used’s Bert McCracken on additional screaming and spoken parts preceding a hard guitar solo. It’s – in short – really weird, really loud, and really fucking good. Plus, “I won’t go down by myself, but I’ll go down with my friends” is a great MSN name.
10. ‘The Kids From Yesterday’ – (‘Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’)
The last song the band wrote together, ‘The Kids From Yesterday’ is an emotional, 80s synth-pop inspired ode to growing up and a farewell to My Chemical Romance… for a time, anyway. The band have spoken emphatically about how they feel about the song, calling it their favourite on the album. Its introspection makes it out of place on such a ridiculous record.
9. ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’ – (‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’)
Produced by Thursday’s Geoff Rickly, ‘Bullets’ flawlessly mixes the chaos and rough edge of post-hardcore with the over-wrought, melodramatic lyrics of emo. ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’, while a less standout track on ‘Bullets’, still has all the hallmarks that made it special.
8. ‘I Never Told You What I Do for a Living’ – (‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’)
How else could you close out a perfect album? ‘I Never Told You What I Do For a Living’ is a powerful track that wraps up the tale of the emo Romeo and Juliet, the Demolition Lovers. With the nursery rhyme-style post-chorus section “never again, and never again, they gave us two shots to the/back of the head, and we’re all dead now”, ‘I Never Told You’ seals the deal: ‘Three Cheers’ is flawless and remains unmatched.
7. ‘Demolition Lovers’ – (‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’)
Setting up the more well-known mythology of ‘Three Cheers’, ‘Demolition Lovers’ deals with the bloodied faces that will grace its cover. With a whole ass interlude, it’s a slow, eerie track that builds to a crescendo and lays the foundation which MCR would prove themselves so good at: stories, theatrics, and really heavy guitars. At six minutes it’s an epic, but it earned every second.
6. ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ – (‘The Black Parade’)
I would wager that there isn’t a millennial emo alive who doesn’t remember where they were when they first heard that piano G note. There is nothing like the marching band drums, the guitars, and the way ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ builds – it’s an anthem and an invitation to something bigger. It earns every second of its five minutes, and it’s a shame we won’t be hearing it live anytime soon.
5. ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’ – (‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’)
With ‘I’m Not Okay’, My Chemical Romance immediately took their crown. It has everything an emo song needs, an anthem for teens being bullied for wearing too much eyeliner in the tradition of Jimmy Eat World’s ‘The Middle’. With the video, too, they designated themselves the father figures of the scene, guiding their underdog fans. Plus, the guitar solo.
4. ‘Cemetery Drive’ – (‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’)
Following the protagonist’s wife’s suicide, ‘Cemetery Drive’ is a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking track that probably contributed to people assuming all of My Chem’s music was about death and murder. It’s one of the most powerful on the album, seamlessly mixing high concept with genuine feeling.
3. ‘Headfirst for Halos’ – (‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’)
Originally produced as a ‘joke’ ‘Headfirst’ is the most fun track on ‘Bullets’, flawlessly setting up the playful, tongue-in-cheek lyrics about dark subjects teamed with fast, upbeat guitars and drums that would define the band. It’s their most challenging, complex song, but Way described the song simply: “[it’s] about suicide: don’t do it”.
2. ‘Famous Last Words’ – (‘The Black Parade’)
The second single from ‘The Black Parade’, ‘Famous Last Words’ is a powerful sendoff for the album and Gerard Way’s favourite track. It’s a sentimental ode to staying alive and persevering, and from a band who struggled so much to stay alive while writing and recording, it’s a meaningful one, and with that bridge, it’s maybe the best song on the album.
1. ‘Thank You For the Venom’ – (‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’)
A thinly-veiled attack on the media who criticised My Chemical Romance, ‘Thank You For the Venom’, Way’s declaration of “I wouldn’t front the scene if you paid me” is somewhat ironic now. Still, it’s a fast, wild song that sees Way playing with his vocals and introducing MCR’s most iconic chorus of all time: a cry of, “So, give me all your poison and give me all your pills/and give me all your hopeless hearts and make me ill”. It showcases everything they’ve always been better at, proving they remain unmatched.