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Music Review: My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade

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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.

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About Mark Saleski

  • Vern Halen

    It was weird – something about the video was unsettling – it reminded me of the old silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Maybe the trick is to listen to The Black Parade and watch Dr. Caligari – I mean, it worked for Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and the Wizard of Oz (really – try it! start the CD after the MGM lion roars the third time – amazing synchronization!).

  • Mark Saleski

    yea, that is a sort of creepy video.

    as for the Floyd/Oz thing, i still haven’t gotten around to that yet, but there’s a ton of documentation about it on the net.

  • Funny, but ‘the back parade’ strikes me as one of the most pedantic teen angst efforts I’ve ever seen. The singers ‘petitioning’ of the heavens with his over played cries of angst and woe will likely be a point of personal embarrassment for this guy; he might even wake up tomorrow and go “what the (#$#?”
    The use of the parade that follows their lofted stage is especially humorous – here is a posse that seems to at least confirm one thing, namely a shared outlook of blah..
    When I was 15 there was plenty of blah to go round..at least Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher were juxtaposed with guys like Ozzy..who oddly enough seems a nobel laureate when compared to my chemical romance.

  • Congrats! This article has been forwarded to the Advance.net websites.

  • Vern Halen

    Looked at that Floyd/Oz link you provided – thanx, Mark!

    Geez……… you though the guy who invented “Paul is dead” had a lot of time on his hands…..

  • Mike

    Freddy would’t be jealous, because he had singing ability.

    If this is the most “artistic and thoughtful” concept album available for mainstream listeners, then i am sickened. This doesn’t hold a candle to “2112,” “Hemispheres,” “The Wall,” and all the other classics.

    If you want good concept albums, get “Paradox” by Royal Hunt, “Streets” by Savatage, and “Scenes from a Memory” by Dream Theater.
    “Paradox” is basically about the second coming of Christ, and nothing changes, and nobody listens. Streets is about the life of a poverty stricken, drug addicted fictional rock star, who after hitting highs and lows, finds solace in God. And Scenes from a memory is a cool story involving reincarnation, and a man’s psychotherapeutic regression into discovering a murder in his past life.

    Not to mention all of the said bands are actually GOOD with their instruments, and don’t strum little power chords.

  • Mark Saleski

    did i mention that My Chemical Romance seems to have a sense of humour? sorry, forgot about that.

  • Kate

    Well, I have to say Gerard’s voice is most likely the best in modern rock. And that’s only because Freddie is dead.
    Personally, I don’t like Pink Floyd’s vocals too much; they bore me. Whoever sang for Pink Floyd couldn’t hold a candle to MCR’s vocals. No offense to anyone here.

  • Mike

    That’s fine. I believe Roger Waters was the vocalist for Floyd. He is good if you like the down key depressed tone they had in their music.

    In modern rock, Chris Cornell has insane range, but some argue over his tonality. Labrie is really good, as is Jon Oliva. It may be too heavy for people, but the Italian power metal band Labyrinth has a singer who is phenomenal. Considering english is his second language, he speaks and sings it better than me.

    Don’t get me wrong Mr. Saleski, your article was well written, I just don’t think MCR is good enough to hold the candle to guide modern Rock. Rush made two of my stated concept albums above, and they had a wonderful sense of humour. They had played pranks on each other in concerts, they had several comical songs, and they use comedic sounds and characters to introduce songs in their concert (Jerry Stiller being one). They also song the anthem on south park. Also Dream Theater has a sense of humour too, especially if you see their concert highlights clips on their dvds. The bassist tackled the singer in the middle of a concert because somebody bet him money to do son. If you wish to make a sense of humour relevant to a musical discussion, then that is fine, but the bands i listed can use the same arguement.

    And as for a side note, the band Savatage has now become the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, one of the most popular holiday rock bands we have today. Thats fairly light hearted, i would say.

  • Mark Saleski

    mike, i know all about Rush and whatnot…All The World’s A Stage (on cassette) being a tape i pretty much wore out one summer. i own everything else that they’ve done too.

    and i would agree that this record doesn’t hold a candle to things like 2112, though to be fair, i really don’t think it’s trying to go there.

    i just think that the other musical elements mixed in to the ‘standard’ modern rock sound brings a refreshing change.

    oh, and i love Chris Cornell, though sometimes that straining tension in his voice makes me think a chunk of inner organ is gonna fly out of his mouth. 😉

  • Suckatage

    Savatage better than MCR?

    You jest. I heard Savatage back in the 80s. Sucked then. Suck now with their new jingle bell style too. Ho Ho Ho!

    Just heard MCR for the first time last week. Great album. Great idea.

    Oh…and power chords rock. Rather here that than overinstrumented Christmas songs any day.

  • 1# MCR FAN ….gerard is mine

    FIRST of all im soooooooin love with my chemical romance they are sooo awsome and all mine …i just cant stop lovin them because they are the best!!!! I LOVE YOU GUYS SOOO MUCH!!!

  • i don’t understand people talking so much about has-beens & revelations in music. u people think u know it all and have the whole concept of where this music genre has come from & where its going. but i think u guys know nothing and neither do i but still what i know is that u dont decide who is gonna be written as the best thing in music history, time & generation does.
    so shut ur pie hole & open ur ears to listen what is coming ur way.if u like it, spin the shit again and again & if u don’t burn the shit & throw it away. stop dishing who r tryin to create sth. by the way i heard the album and its new.

  • iheartgerardway

    ummmmmmmmm…guys, mcr is the best band out now! not only are their lyrics good, but so are the instruments. oh, and btw, did you notice how HOT Gerard Way is?

  • so…are you saying you like MCR or not…?

    i personally love them and i think gerard has the overall best voice in music today. and they really give their hearts when they perform live, i mean Gerard’s vocals aren’t “the best” live. but who cares, they’re a great band and very fun to watch.

  • gerard way !!!!!!!!!!!

    hi gerard way !!!!!! i love u so much lol

  • gerard way !!!!!!!!!!!

    hi its me Agen aleesha mcr is such a good band and i think gerard way is so gorges love u lots aleesha xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  • Jessica

    OKAY so yer i love MCR so much
    your concert 30/11/07 was AH-MA-ZING!
    best night of my life

    and i was just wondering when is the
    dvd comming out for the concert?

    xox LOVE Jessica (L)