Happy Birthday to a legend.
So this is it. Today My Chemical Romance’s ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’ turns 15 years old. That’s right - if ‘Three Cheers’ was a person, they’d be entering their very own emo phase, and starting to tell their parents they just DON’T UNDERSTAND. They grow up so fast.
‘Three Cheers’ is a megalith - a titan of alternative music. It’s a conceptual album with its roots in trauma, loss and love, but without leaving you feeling grief-stricken. An album so deeply embedded in culture that its presence is still felt 15 years on - its reappearance in the Billboard Album Charts earlier this year is a testament to this fact.
But ‘Three Cheers’ wasn’t just an album - it built a foundation for a proper subculture of people who felt like outcasts and weirdos; it started a movement. Before Gerard Way became the saviour of the broken, the beaten and the damned, he was the off-centre, oftentimes reluctant leader of the emo subculture.
It’s genuinely near impossible to think of an album which played a more active role in the shaping of youth culture in the 2000s than ‘Three Cheers’ did. It started out as just “the story of a man. A woman. And the corpses of a thousand evil men…” but what it became was so much more - so much larger than itself. It was the launchpad for the scrappy New Jersey punks to take on the world.
Beyond all of that, it’s the perfect snapshot of the culture from which it was born - it’s the product of people who grew up in a pre-9/11 world, and are now growing up to see the world they knew changing dramatically around them. But it’s also the soundtrack to kids whose lives are equally divisible by the events of 9/11 - from the normality of childhood, growing through the world changing overnight in their teenage years. It’s a piece of art from - and for - a disenfranchised, disenchanted group of people.
What’s most important though, is that 15 years later its themes still resonate. While we may no longer 14 years old and screaming ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’ over every minor inconvenience we suffer (or maybe we are)… it’s transformed into an anthem for accepting that it’s okay to not always be okay. 'The Ghost Of You' still makes that familiar sting of tears form in your eyes as you remember those that you, and the band have lost along the way - and 'Hang Em High' still makes you want to grab onto the nearest chandelier and swing like you've never swung before. It’s still as good today as it was the day it was released.
When My Chem hit ‘The Black Parade’, they knew what they were doing. It was polished, it was conceptual, it had a narrative. But ‘Three Cheers’ walked so that ‘The Black Parade’ could run.
Happy Birthday to a legend. Hallelujah, lock and load.