Top 15 Albums at 15 | #5 The Black Parade
Oct 31, 2016 • Matthew Wang
~ 5 minute read • 1067 words
I’m going to regret writing this, aren’t I?
Album #5: The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance
the story of emo, part deux
In my previous Paramore post I alluded to the story of emo, and its broad social and cultural impacts. If you remember the early-mid 2000’s, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I mean, I certainly don’t, but that’s alright.
Emo songs were about emotion (which is why it’s called emo). You were taken on a rollercoaster of emotions: love, hate, envy, pain, joy, the list goes on. But, obviously, that’s not restrictive to emo: Beyoncé makes me feel empowered, Eminem makes me feel pissed off, and Lil Dicky makes me laugh. I think the special thing about emo music is that the emotion is the central message of the song, rather than a mechanism to convey that message. That’s pretty self-evident from songs like Pain by Jimmy Eat World, or I Don’t Love You by our titular My Chemical Romance.
MCR was one of the cornerstones of emo and emo rock. In part, because their combination of emo and punk rock was what was popular, but also because their lyrics galvanized teenagers everywhere. Their rather dark, somewhat violent but always beautiful pictures they painted were hallmarks of both the emotions that teenagers felt a lot (think angst and rebellion), and the punk rock sound that they tried to emulate. The Black Parade is by far the best example of this: in Teenagers, not only do we get the whole spiel about edgy teenagers, but we also hear the perspective that fights for these edgy teenagers: one that analyzes the prejudice and the stereotypes that we put on young teens, and it’s a message that’s still relevant today.
Like my run on sentences, I’d love to ramble on and on about MCR. I’m not going to. Firstly, because I’m procrastinating on about 3 lab writeups, but secondly because you can find information about this on the internet. MCR has made a profound impact in both pop culture, and the lense that we examine pop culture with: what does it mean to be human, to be a teen, to fight for something that you truly believe in. That’s really all you need to know. But why was it important to me? Why did some not edgy, not teen in the slightest small asian guy care about what Gerard Way had to say?
For a long time, I was a pretentious prick (you can make the argument that I still am). For a long time, I only listened to EDM, because vocals were “impure”. I especially hated emo music: I wasn’t one of those stupid, edgy teens. I was good at math, at school, would never do drugs or kill myself or have a girlfriend (they have cooties!). I’d have my own tech company or something and have a crapload of money. MCR kinda changed that opinion (along with Sara, who’s saga will continue sooner or later). Initially I thought it was just other emo crap, but I did kinda (embarassingly :P) self-identify with some of the lyrics, or at the very least appreciated. Gerard Way makes a good point in Teenagers about how society views teenagers in a relatively unfavourable, rather stereotypical way, and disregards what they say because, well, they’re scary. Do I agree with this viewpoint now? Maybe, but that’s irrelevant. The Black Parade made me take other people’s opinions seriously, whether it’s how death manifests itself (Welcome to the Black Parade), people’s perspectives on politics, or simply someone’s beliefs. It’s hard to believe that one album made that change, and obviously it isn’t just MCR; but it played an absolutely huge role in my change as a person.
burritos and tacos
I was especially interested The Black Parade’s concept theme: there’s a guy called “The Patient”, who we learn is going to die from cancer. We hear a retrospective look into what it means to be alive, and what death entails. In Dead!, there’s kind of a sad framing of the end of “The Patient”’s life. He’s dying without many there to support him, or love him, and it seems like his life sucked. But, it’s not all that bad: in Welcome to the Black Parade, we learn about the plus side of our protagonists life: the wonderful parade that his father took him to see when he was a young boy. It’s a pretty interesting flip-side to how death actually works, and maybe that your best moments are what defines you as a person. Then, in Mama, we’re hit with stark reality: we’re told that we’re all going to hell, whether if it’s because we’re a soldier and we killed people, or because we just stand idly by and let it happen. But, at least we try to be a better person, to be “the better son” that Gerard sings about. Teenagers looks back on the glory days of being a teen, and what you really do get for being one: endless stereotyping and harassing. But, it was hella fun. We end off with Famous Last Words: a relatively interpretive song about how it’s alright to keep on living, to walk this world alone. Because you’ve got you. And that’s hella inspiring.
It’s not very clear whether or not “The Patient” ends up dying. But their message hasn’t died inside of me: be accepting of others, but also give a big fuck you do death. It’s a rather crude way of telling people to keep on going in life, but I buy it. Every time I’m feeling super down (and sometimes downright suicidal), I’m reminded to think of my parade (in this case, it’s stuff like winning shit in debate or making awesome computer programs or SHAD), and to have the drive to have an awesome parade of all the cool things I’ve done before I die, hopefully not alone in a hospital bed like “The Patient”.
My father has never taken me into the city to see a marching band. But damn, I’d love to be the savior of the broken, the beaten, and the damned.
Favourite Songs: Dead!, Welcome to the Black Parade, I Don’t Love You, Mama, Teenagers, Famous Last Words
Next, we’ll talk about someone who’s a cardinal king.
Until next time!
Oct 31, 2016 • Matthew Wang
~ 5 minute read • 1067 words