'Three Cheers' for My Chemical Romance's Breakthrough Album
On June 8, 2004, My Chemical Romance released their sophomore album, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, and ascended to a whole new level of pop-rock stardom.
Bolstered by the hits "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" and "Helena," the Jersey group's major-label debut struck a nerve with millions of teens in the '00s, touching on all the feelings that come with the age, like love, loss and overcoming the heaviest feelings you can feel. A catchy mix of metal and emo, with hooks and choruses that wouldn't be out of place in a Broadway musical, Three Cheers sold more than three million copies in America and was hailed by Rolling Stone as the 10th greatest emo album of all time as well as making it to SPIN's list of the 300 best albums from 1985-2014.
True to the theatrical style that MCR developed over their time together, Three Cheers was something of a concept record, building on the "Demolition Lovers" introduced on debut album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love (2002). But the songs were also informed by real loss, too: during recording, bandmates Gerard and Mikey Way's grandmother passed away. She had encouraged the brothers' passion for music and art, and "Helena" was dedicated to her (her name was actually Elena).
"In the end, listening to the record, I was like, ‘Wow this record is really about loss,’" Gerard later said in an interview. "It took me a couple of listens to really get the scope of the record and realize that it was really that blatantly about loss and death throughout almost every song. But I think death is something that we’ll always write about because it’s…tragic, negative and beautiful at the same time. It’s very beautiful and it can be a very positive thing." Indeed, follow-ups Welcome to the Black Parade and Danger Days extended those themes of death and afterlife, helping establish MCR as one of the finest emo bands of their generation.