So long and goodnight: My Chemical Romance's 'Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge' turns 20

Reprise Records

It's not a phase, mom, and it hasn't been for two decades.

My Chemical Romance's Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge was first released June 8, 2004 — 20 years ago Saturday. The album helped bring emo to the mainstream on its way to being certified triple-Platinum by the RIAA.

A budding genre in the '90s with bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and The Promise Ring, emo started to seep into the larger music consciousness in the early 2000s with Jimmy Eat World, Dashboard Confessional and Taking Back Sunday, among others. With Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, My Chem brought a more theatrical edge to the sound, immediately apparent from frontman Gerard Way's whispered intro to opening track "Helena" leading into its anthemic chorus.

"Helena" and fellow single "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" became the biggest hits from the album and were accompanied by equally striking videos — "Helena" brought to life the goth wedding of Tim Burton's dreams, while "I'm Not Okay" spoke directly to youth outcasts with its parody of a high school movie trailer.

The visual aspect of MCR was massive, and the word "emo" was soon characterized by swooping hairstyles and clothing you'd find at Hot Topic. That image was further cemented by bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco.

Emo traditionalists weren't super thrilled with the changing definition of the genre — "Unlike high school, emo has a history longer than four years," snarks the website — and MCR even dismissed the distinction themselves. Still, the label persisted, and now you'll likely find Three Cheers on any list ranking the best emo albums.

My Chem followed Three Cheers with their 2006 opus, The Black Parade, and 2010's Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, before breaking up in 2013. They reunited in 2019.

Friday, June 7, 2024 at 6:00AM by Josh Johnson Permalink