It is strange being able to recall when you heard a band that has stuck with you for a long time, and even stranger to be able to remember when you first heard a genre whose influence and legacy has been talked about for years. To cut the suspense, the band I’m talking about is My Chemical Romance, and the genre I’m talking about is emo (or mainstream emo, to help differentiate between what I’m talking about today, and ‘true emo’.)
Monday, August 29th, 2005. I was at home watching the MTV Video Awards that had been broadcast the previous night in America. I was watching it for the sheer purpose of seeing Green Day, who I had become somewhat infatuated with thanks to their phenomenal record American Idiot. As it turned out, they were nominated for eight awards that night, and walked away with seven. I believe one of the main reasons I had been watching was because I had been told that Green Day were performing their track ‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams‘, as well.
As I watched the performance, I was treated with an introduction to a number of artists for the first time, namely John Legend, Kanye West, and of course, My Chemical Romance. My Chemical Romance had been nominated for five awards that night, winning precisely none. This of course meant that I had to see snippet’s of My Chemical Romance’s ‘Helena’ five times.
Admittedly, I was confused at the time, and thought that the song was called My Chemical Romance and that ‘Helena’ was the singer. Can you blame me? Well, yeah, I’m an idiot, but I was also 13, so there’s that. But after five listens of the song, it began to grow on me. The very next day, I went to Limewire and checked out the song.
It slowly grew on me further, entering my mind and just turning over and over while I tried to understand what I had been hearing. This wasn’t the classic rock I grew up with, this wasn’t the Avril Lavigne who I had been loving so much in the years prior, and this certainly wasn’t the Nirvana that I had been infatuated with at the time, no, this was something completely new and different to me. An introspective, depressed style of music that ironically resonated with me and made me feel happier about music.
Within a year, I had become a huge fan of My Chemical Romance, choosing then to listen to a huge number of bands within the emo genre, and those associated with similar genres. While I never became a real ‘scene kid’, like many fans of the genre had before and after me, when I heard ‘Helena’ for the first time, it changed me. Not because it truly spoke to me, but because it showed me that there was a different musical genre out there that I could get behind and stay behind.
So thank you, Green Day, if not for you, I wouldn’t have discovered My Chemical Romance.