I can’t speak for anybody else, but sometimes I find myself daydreaming about the “next big thing” in music. It never works. New Wave? Never saw that coming. Freak Folk? A total surprise. Punk? “God Save The Queen” was a rock and roll sucker punch.
Genres rise, explode, and then fade away. We look back at them with thoughts that land somewhere on the dismissive/wistful continuum. Time though, can make you change your stance. I sure was dismissive of Disco. Now I land closer to the wistful end of the scale.
One genre that has never faded away is the musical. Is this its own category, you might be thinking? Sure it is. You encountered the word ‘musical’ and knew exactly what I was talking about. Though the music itself comes in many flavors, there is a common bond: just when the movie gets interesting, the danged music rushes in to ruin the moment!
OK. Maybe that’s a little harsh. It’s just that I’ve never enjoyed musicals. There are a handful of exceptions but mostly I get the creeps when that earnest singing kicks in.
This is why I almost dreaded listening to Green Day’s American Idiot. They went back and listened to their favorite musicals? Oh, great.
Well, it worked for Green Day and, given the oddball song structures and dramatic influences that The Black Parade is built on, it has worked for My Chemical Romance too. Both records share the same producer (Rob Cavallo), probably not a coincidence.
Looking back at their last record (Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge), I just could not have seen this coming. The bombast of “Welcome To The Black Parade” as well as the opening track “The End.” The anthemic “Sleep.” Sure, the guitars are (very) loud and the topics revolve around life and (mostly) death. But the music, especially taken as a whole, definitely has the feel of a (gulp…) musical.
Want proof? Cue up the mini-opera of “Mama.” An anti-war piece? You decide. I just think that the cameo from Liza Minnelli (yes, that’s what I said) is killer. If Freddy Mercury were alive today, the jealousy would be flowing.
For my money, The Black Parade‘s best (or at least the most fun) song is “Teenagers.” Rock is full of anti-authority tunes but this one shoots right up near the leaders. The chorus (“They said all/Teenagers scare/The living shit outa me…”) is guaranteed to have you singing along….for at least the rest of the day.
So is this… whatever it is… the next big thing? Punk/emo musicals? Concept albums about the trip toward death? Hey, stranger things have happened. Just ask Roger Waters.