Fast forward seven years and it is all over. My Chemical Romance are no more but for me the novelty had worn off a long time ago and it is all thanks to that word and all it’s connotations: emo. The word “emo” became part of the public consciousness about six or seven years ago. An emo is often seen as a person who wears black all the time, listens to depressing and emotional music and self harm as a form of expression. Needless to say, this stereotyping is complete and utter nonsense but this description seemed to go hand in hand with My Chemical Romance fans and this made them screamingly uncool amongst hard core metal fans.
By the release of their second album, ‘The Black Parade” this negative view was held by pretty much any metal fan above 15. Only a year after their triumphant main stage slot at Leeds, I witnessed the band being bottled by thousands of festival goers at Download. As they attempted to play songs from their recent hit album, they were drowned out by cries of “die emo, die” and boos. So why was this? Why had previous fans, people like me who had been impressed by ‘Three Cheers’ now abandoned them? For one thing, the songs on concept album ‘Black Parade’ were noticeably weaker and dare I say it, less rocky than their earlier counterparts. The lyrics and song subjects seemed a little too contrived. It seemed like a pastiche of big arena bands like Queen but with none of the substance behind it. Plus there was the jackets. It was hard to take anybody seriously who had clearly been to a fancy dress shop and asked to look like a Beatle on acid. It was clear to any observer that the band was going through it’s “difficult phase.”
However, the worst was yet to come........by the end of the decade, band members Gerard and Mikey Way, Ray Toro and Frank Iero had completely metamorphosised into clean cut, trendy looking One Direction lookalikeys. Gone was the cropped white hair of frontman Way and the jackets had been returned to the Civil War re-enactment society they belonged to. But what replaced it was even worse. Pop. Quite bad pop at that. In essence what had made My Chemical Romance great had all but vanished. It was as if all the angst and quick based baselines I had experienced at Leeds Festival had never exsisted...I still listen to ‘Three Cheers’ to prove to myself I am not going mad. Therefore I have to admit that when I heard the news this weekend, from a distraught teen I tutor, that the band are no more I emitted not only a sigh of relief but also a look of surprise that they were even still going. However, they will always still have a place in my heart and songs like ‘Helena’ still remain in my top ten most listened to tracks on my I-Pod.
In my opinion though, the legacy they leave is not only a few great songs. Due to their massive popularity I have seen a massive increase in alternative kids in school feeling able to express themselves. Fifteen years ago when I was at school, being alternative was social suicide. Everybody was desperate to fit in and if you didn’t you were picked on beaten in response. My Chemical Romance provided a platform and a call to arms for teens everywhere to be proud of who they are and not have to conform to what other people want them to be, very much laying the foundations for later teen favourites such as “All Time Low” and “Bring Me The Horizon.” As frontman Gerard Way tweeted, “Beyond any sadness, what I feel the most is pride.” I have to say I agree with him.