Why My Chemical Romance’s ‘The Black Parade’ Was The ‘Sgt Pepper’ Of The Emo Generation

Secret (or not so secret) noughties emos rejoice! Grab some black hair dye and vow to disown your parents all over again! Because My Chemical Romance look set to reissue an expanded version of ‘The Black Parade’, their third and most successful album, for its 10 year anniversary (yes, you really are that old).

The news last night, stoked by a mysterious video teased on the band’s long-dormant Twitter page, was enough to rev some sections of the internet into a frenzy.

But what’s all the fuss about? Well, the album in question wasn’t just the band’s best, nor just most succinct album of its genre, it was one of the most important records of the last decade.


An “ostentatious concept-album-cum-rock-opera about death”, as we described it upon its release, the record is a bombastic tour-de-force that took cues from Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ (both albums were recorded with the same producer) but sounded nothing like its peers.

After honing their razor-edged pop-punk sound two years earlier on their good-but-not-exactly-great major label debut ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’, the New Jersey group set their sights on something bigger for its follow-up.

Declaring their band “dead”, Gerard Way and co donned all-black ‘Sgt. Pepper’-like marching uniforms (think The Libertines if they were more into Tim Burton than Oscar Wilde) and were reborn as The Black Parade.

Their resulting album, written from the perspective of protagonist The Patient being visited by death (aka The Black Parade), took influence from the artists responsible for some of the biggest-thinking music of decades past (Queen, Pink Floyd) while still managing to conceive something that struck a chord with millions of their current generation.

You see, it was more than just the music. To truly understand the power of ‘The Black Parade’, you need to cast your mind back to 2006. Like chavs before them, so-called emos were being vilified in the tabloid press. Never ones to shy away from baseless moral panic, The Daily Mail ran an article titled ‘Emo cult warning for parents’, stating with no sense of doubt that the genre was “characterised by depression, self-injury and suicide”, later labeling My Chemical Romance themselves as a “suicide cult band”.


But what every MCR fan knows is that rather than being about death, ‘The Black Parade’ is about life, about survival, whether you’re a patient in the hospital clinging on or a kid in school just trying to make it through the day. It galvanised a generation of introverts, outsiders and general lovers of liquid eyeliners, offering hope, solace and communion.

But that’s not why it’s the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ of its generation. It’s because it was an album that exploded the boundaries of its genre, and made high-concept art accessible to all.

Each record is a self-composed masterpiece ripe for listeners to delve into, seek solace in and find their purpose within. The Black Parade marches again – long may it continue.

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