Though we have no idea whether or not their reunion means new music, the long-awaited return has inspired us to dive back into their catalog and remind ourselves of the glory that was 2002 to 2010. Some MCR diehards may stan their debut album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love or their fourth LP Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, but Billboard found it hard to beat the strongest songs on both the group’s sophomore set, 2004’s Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and their biggest album to date, 2006’s The Black Parade.
To celebrate My Chemical Romance’s reunion reveal, take a look at Billboard’s favorite 15 My Chem songs and see if you agree.
15. “Vampires Will Never Hurt You” (I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love)
After opening with thumping percussion and a slow-burning guitar lick, this I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love track picks up the second the first chorus hits and never looks back. Plus, the vampire metaphor allows for perhaps the most outlandishly emo lyrics of MCR’s catalog: “And these thoughts of endless night/ Bring us back into the light/ Can you stake my heart?”
14. “The Kids From Yesterday” (Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys)
Whether or not the band knew it at the time, “The Kids From Yesterday” would go on to become their final single released before MCR decided to call it quits. And as far as send-offs go, this track off of Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys encapsulates the bittersweet feeling of saying farewell. With a melancholy melody accompanied by lyrics about becoming an adult, “The Kids From Yesterday” became one final, bleary-eyed goodbye from the band to their unwavering fans.
13. “Mama” (The Black Parade)
Take My Chemical Romance, add two gigatons of camp, mix in a legendary featured guest and you’ll get “Mama,” the demented Black Parade B-side. Complete with constantly-changing musical styles, frontman Gerard Way’s increasingly unhinged vocals and a guest appearance from none other than Liza Minnelli herself, “Mama” still stands as one of the craziest and most entertaining songs MCR has ever put out.
12. “The Ghost of You” (Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge)
While “The Ghost of You” may not be as hook-heavy as the other singles on Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, the song’s impassioned chorus makes it just as special to My Chem’s biggest fans. Not to mention, the music video is one of MCR’s most cinematic (and intense) videos, turning its narrative of loss into a D-Day-inspired, movie-like video that makes the “Ghost of You” story hit even harder.
11. “Skylines and Turnstiles” (I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love)
Writing a song about the September 11 attacks is a difficult feat for any artist, and to have it be released just months after the attacks took place as one of your first songs as a band is downright gutsy. But MCR managed to strike the right balance with “Skylines and Turnstiles,” which never exploits the tragiedy and also never shies away from laying bare the raw emotion of the moment. “Skylines” turned out to not just be an early single for the group — it would go on to largely inform the group’s music for the rest of their career.
10. “Cancer” (The Black Parade)
My Chemical Romance isn’t exactly the band you think of when it comes to ballads, but “Cancer” is proof that they can nail a heartbreaking slower song, too. As the song’s title suggests, “Cancer” is a raw depiction of someone’s struggle with disease, and its lyrics are topped off with a melancholic piano riff that makes you feel the pain that much more. Who knew MCR was going to cut even deeper than “The Ghost of You”?
9. “You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison” (Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge)
What starts off as a seemingly funky tune quickly devolves into pure, emo-rock madness as MCR spins a yarn of a man sent to prison who begins to fall for his cellmate. “Prison” is a key example of My Chemical Romance turning up their campy delivery, with Way wailing through the song’s verses as the guitar riffs and drum fills reach such a high-octane level that they invoke the imagery of a jail riot.
8. “I Don’t Love You” (The Black Parade)
We’ll say it right now: “I Don’t Love You” is one of the group’s most underrated singles. Sure, MCR’s roaring headbangers are the singles that fans love most, but the guitar work and yearning in Way’s vocals make the breakup story of “I Don’t Love You” hurt so good. And if you’ve ever fallen out of love like Way apparently has (at least according to this song), there’s nothing more cathartic than those final belt-out notes.
7. “Vampire Money” (Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys)
Danger Days is often seen as the band’s foray into a commercial, pop-driven sound, but just as you think the album is about to end, they come blazing back in with “Vampire Money,” a raw punk track to close out the album with blown-out guitars, a slick drum riff and Way delivering a shambolic vocal take. The song also sees the band throwing some not-so-subtle shade at the Twilight franchise, which asked the group to contribute a song to one of the films’ soundtracks. Instead, they wrote this banger about not “selling out.”
6. “Teenagers” (The Black Parade)
One of MCR’s most unifying songs thanks to its chanty chorus and punchy verses, “Teenagers” is also one of the band’s most ironic: It bashes on the rowdiness and irreverence of the teenage demographic, when that community is what made up a vast majority of the My Chemical Romance fan base in their heyday. Thirteen years later, those teenage fans finally understand the fear the MCR guys were feeling as late twentysomethings in 2006, and now the song slaps even harder.
5. “Famous Last Words” (The Black Parade)
It may seem strange to have the final track on an album about death be a hopeful anthem for change, but “Famous Last Words” sees the band gripping their instruments tightly as they rally against cynicism and disillusion. The music video also finds them burning down of the fictional band The Black Parade, all while they refuse to leave and keep on playing.
4. “Helena” (Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge)
This Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge track marked a pivotal moment in My Chem’s career as well as in the mainstream punk community, as “Helena” was the first MCR single to cross over to top 40 radio — and a powerful way to show that they were nowhere near finished making waves. Just 16 seconds after Way’s haunting vocals grab your attention, “Helena” takes off into a captivating raucous of slamming drums and roaring guitar. It’s equally as fun to thrash to as it is to scream the “So long and goodnight” hook.
3. “Dead!” (The Black Parade)
Even on an album as dark as The Black Parade, MCR is still here to have some fun. “Dead!,” the album’s full-length opener, sees the group taking on the idea of passing away with a sense of sarcasm, as they do not regret to inform the audience that their life is over. Way does some of his best work as a frontman, milking every syllable with a fiendish glee, but the true MVP of the song is lead guitarist Ray Toro, who shreds his way through. If The Black Parade is about dying, then “Dead!” might as well be a bullet straight to the heart.
2. “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” (Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge)
Ask any emo kid living in the mid-2000s what their favorite song from that era was. The answer, almost every time, is going to be “I’m Not Okay (I Promise).” The song’s melody gets under your skin and forces you to get up and headbang all of your feelings out. Way’s bitter vocal delivery paints the image perfectly of someone who feels misunderstood and completely left behind by the world at large. Then there is the iconic music video for the track, which serves as a trailer for a faux film about a group of bullied prep-school kids taking revenge on their tormentors. “I’m Not Okay,” whether or not they knew it would, launched MCR into the stratosphere, and to this day endures as perhaps the most emo-of-all-emo anthems.
1. “Welcome to the Black Parade” (The Black Parade)
In a time when pop-punk was all the rage, My Chemical Romance decided to push genre boundaries by incorporating several rock elements into one tune. “Welcome to the Black Parade” has wailing electric guitars, a soaring drum line, chant-along verses, and even pinging piano that cuts like a knife. The five-minute track is so anthemic, it actually feels like My Chem is recruiting anyone listening to join their Black Parade, screaming “We’ll carry on!” and headbanging in unison. And according to its response, everyone wanted to join: “Welcome to the Black Parade” reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Alternative Songs chart. It’s so much more than a mainstream rock song — it was proof that everyone can be a little emo.