Armed only with words in a bloody fight to the death, this rendition of vs. pits My Chemical Romance’s Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge and The Black Parade against each other. Without being able to read the other’s work, two of ACRN’S own dueled it out in this early 2000s pop-punk showdown. Having trouble deciding for yourself? Check out what our staff had to say about the never-ending feud between two of MCR’s most highly contested albums.
Devon Hannan, Editorial Director: Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge (2004)
“The story of a man, a woman and the corpses of a thousand evil men…”
My Chemical Romance’s second studio album Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge follows the tale of two criminals in love. After his lover dies, the nameless main character finds himself in a deal with the devil. In a bargaining plea to bring back the love of his life, he agrees to embark on a murdering spree, killing 1,000 evil folks in the process. Revealed in the last track of the album (“I Never Told You What I Do For A Living”), the unequivocally just as evil main character must kill himself to ultimately bring his dead lover back to life. It is here where the audience is matched with pure hopelessness and defeat; The devil works in twisted ways, which can also be tied to the album’s not-so-subtle allusions to drug addiction, suicide and mental illness.
Sounds romantic, right?
With its tragic concept and impeccable musicianship, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge destroys the narrative that MCR is a corny emo band from 2006. No offense to The Black Parade — it has absolutely done more than its intended purpose in regards to saving kids’ lives (important, I’ll admit) — but its concept isn’t innovative or raw. The problem with The Black Parade is actually in its massive savior complex. With its glaringly obvious theme being impossible to overlook upon first listen, TBP misses those seemingly small, captivating moments that Three Cheers executes so well.
With that being said, Three Cheers in its entirety is a goddamn gem. Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge is an album that you can enjoy just as much without understanding its humbling concept. In fact, there is no way you’re going to grasp the whole “corpses of 1,000 evil men” thing without looking it up. The mastery behind Three Cheers is so precise, it has become one of the only albums where you can listen to it for the first time twice — Once blindly, and secondly with the concept fresh in your mind.
In addition to Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge being one of the greatest concept albums ever made, the instrumentation is to die for; Each track has a home in just the right place. Three Cheers doesn’t have any objectively out-of-place duds like “Cancer” or “I Don’t Love You.” Even “Interlude” serves an important purpose, which is to ultimately set up the most killer guitar work My Chem has ever created in “Thank You For The Venom” (All hail the power of Jesus, Ray Toro).
Other key tracks include “Helena (So Long & Goodnight)”, “You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison” and “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)”. “Helena” performs double duty by tying the personal lives of Gerard Way and co. into the record’s thematic elements, while “I’m Not Okay” is the album’s ultimate pop-punk banger. Additionally, deep cuts such as “The Jetset Life Is Gonna Kill You” and “It’s Not A Fashion Statement, It’s A Deathwish” could have easily stood alone as singles, but work best pushing the album along into the main character’s chaotic demise. The lines, “For what you did to me / And what I’ll do to you / You get what everyone else gets / You get a lifetime” (“It’s Not A Fashion Statement, It’s A Deathwish”) linger in an angry, almost uncomfortable puddle of emo wreckage, fitting for the entire aura of the album.
It’s also worth mentioning that the music videos for the singles on Three Cheers are awe-inspiring. That overhead water shot in “The Ghost Of You”, for example? Oh my GOD.
In conclusion, The Black Parade is lazy. Sure, it’s great and definitely pegged as MCR’s “magnum opus” or whatever, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s just downright overrated. It’s so overrated that it masks the unmatchable work on Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, and even the band’s debut I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love. Three Cheers goes down in history as a turning point for early 2000s pop-punk as a whole, all while sculpting one of the most important bands of the last 25 years into its pinnacle form. To quote the man himself, “It’s not a band, it’s an idea.” It’s unbelievable how lucky we are to be able to hold such an idea as Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge physically, in our hands, forever.
Check out Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge here:
Maria Lubanovic, Copy Editor: The Black Parade (2006)
A simple G on the piano is all it takes to signal the emo kid anthem. It unfolds into orchestral sagas and epic conceptual tracks, most of which signal the coming of death and how we need to live our own lives. Six of the top 10 most popular MCR songs on Spotify come from this album. By far, this is one of the most integral and recognized emo albums of at least the last two decades, if not ever. Welcome to the Black Parade.
Conceptually, The Black Parade is heartbreaking, following the last moments of a cancer patient as he dies and revisits his life. From “The End.” into “Dead!” is one of the best transitions in any MCR album. Most of the songs from this album slam through heavy riffs and outstanding guitar solos. Overall, it’s the lyrics and commitment to performance and concept that push this album over the top.
As Spin has said, and I will also agree with, “Welcome to the Black Parade” is the millennial “Bohemian Rhapsody”. To young emos and goths and awkward basement kids, “Welcome to the Black Parade” is a touchstone. The track speaks genuinely to the experience of people who feel alone and in the dark. As Gerard Way sings “We’ll carry on,” it’s a push for solidarity and belonging. The five-minute-long power anthem has been listened to over 100 million times on Spotify, and the official music video has been watched over 77 million times. That doesn’t consider how many times the song has been played over an OG iPod or from a shitty car stereo, but based on personal experience, probably another few million.
The other tracks on the album, especially “I Don’t Love You” and “Teenagers” have also become iconic pieces of young angst. “Cancer” is a stunning ballad with all the stylings of Gerard Way’s pain. MCR even got legendary Broadway actress Liza Minnelli to do vocals on “Mama”. How the hell did they do that? True icon status.
This album, especially “Welcome to the Black Parade”, inspired My Chemical Romance’s aesthetic for the next few years. Way shaved and bleached his hair so he could connect himself to “The Patient”. The band wore goth marching band outfits because of Way’s vision. The commitment to the aesthetic and the concept push MCR past your average band and into performance art.
Not only is this MCR’s most popular album, The Black Parade is by far their most commercially successful album, selling over four million albums all over the world. The album was released for its ten-year anniversary with bonus tracks from the recording sessions. Way was just as raw on these takes as he is in the finished product.
The Black Parade has touched hundreds of millions of people, myself included. The last time I listened to this album in full was probably more than six years ago. Maybe I wasn’t outwardly goth, but I was an insecure and awkward depressed kid. My next-door neighbor was a huge MCR fan and introduced me to them on one rainy afternoon in seventh grade. The next day I went to the library and ripped the The Black Parade CD onto my computer. Between The Killers and MCR, my middle school years were bolstered by people who understood me like never before. For some people, it was even lifesaving. To this day, the final refrains of “Welcome to the Black Parade” and “Famous Last Words” still give me goosebumps.
Check out The Black Parade here: