You might not know this but My Chemical Romance is one of my favourite bands ever—if not my number one favourite band. They’ve just released their first song since 2014 and they’re currently on their first proper tour after they reunited in 2019. Despite their decision to skip Spain and my bitterness over that, I’ve definitely been enjoying seeing everyone post videos of the concerts and the fandom resurgence that’s sprouted. Because of all the contagious excitement going around, I’ve really been listening to the band super consistently for the past few weeks and, me being me, I thought it was a great idea to try to recommend some books based on a few of their songs.
My Chemical Romance’s albums are concept albums, which means there’s a story attached to them, but I’m going to try to base my recommendations solely on the songs I’ve chosen so as not to make everything extra complicated. Also, the songs are in no particular order and I think you all need to appreciate the gargantuan task it was to decide which ones to include because I feel extremely sad for all the fantastic ones I didn’t add—especially because I didn’t talk about some of my favourites.
1) The Foundations of Decay
I need to start this post off with their most recent release. Waking up to new, unexpected MCR music was an experience, which I topped off by then proceeding to listen to this on loop. This song is the perfect balance of their older sound and the experience that present day MCR bring to the table.
Let our bodies lay while our hearts will stay Let our blood invade if I die in pain Now, if your convictions were a passing phase May your ashes feed the river in the morning rays And as the vermin crawls, we lay in the foundations of decay
I have to say that Hell Followed with Us by Andrew Joseph White really fits many of MCR’s songs—I actually put another one in the playlist I made for it—but after finishing the book, I really think this pairing is really good. I run with the concept of decay, something that affects Benji seeing as he is basically rotting from the inside.
2) Thank You for the Venom
I know I shouldn’t be making grandiose statements like this but this song might actually be my favourite MCR one, at least right now after seeing countless videos of them playing it live. It is just yet another fantastic song on my favourite MCR album, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge—and that’s a statement that I’m sure about.
You'll never make me leave I wear this on my sleeve You want to follow something Give me a better cause to lead Just give me what I need Give me a reason to believe
There is just no way to read those lyrics and not think about The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh. Despite Dare running a supernatural podcast, she starts the novel not really believing in ghosts. Although her conviction runs deep, eventually she becomes more and more sure that something paranormal is happening around her.
3) House of Wolves
I was quite obsessed with this song for a long time and because of that it’s still one of my absolute favourites. I adore the fast beat and the sheer amount of words in the bridge section.
And say, say what I wanna say Tell me I'm an angel, take this to my grave Tell me I'm a bad man, kick me like a stray Tell me I'm an angel, take this to my grave
If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio is the perfect book for this song. We have a character, Oliver, telling us about the murder he’s supposedly committed to be in prison but throughout the novel we’re not sure if he’s actually bad or not, we don’t not whether he’s “an angel” or a “bad man”.
4) Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)
This is probably the first My Chemical Romance song I actively listened to, so of course it holds a special place in my heart. I remember being completely taken with the film-like quality of the music video. This is also the one song I will be taking into account the album concept, because my recommendation is:
I'd rather go to Hell Than be in purgatory Cut my hair, gag and bore me Pull this pin, let this world explode
The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys by Gerard Way, Shaun Simon, and Becky Cloonan in the tie-in comic book for My Chemical Romance’s Danger Days album, and it’s amazing. You might have heard of the lead singer—Gerard—’s other comic, The Umbrella Academy, but this one is just as good if not better. Listening to the album and reading this is a great experience as this dystopian story of evil corporations and survival really comes to life.
5) Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough for the Two of Us
I’m fully aware that I’m gushing about every song, but this is another great banger. This one is particularly raw because of the subject matter, but also the absolutely insane vocal performance by Gerard Way. Additionally, the bass in this song is a highlight for me.
Well, I'll choose the life I've taken Never mind the friends I'm making And the beauty that I'm faking Lets me live my life like this And well, I find it hard to stay With the words you say Oh baby, let me in
This song is all about drug use, just like Crank by Ellen Hopkins. It talks about the ugly truth of living with an addiction, and the book is the perfect match, as it details the horrible realities Kristina lives through.
I wanted to include a slower song into the mix and, to be quite honest, I debated for a long time which one to go for. I decided on this one—despite it not being the most ballad-like—simply because it’s one that I’ve been listening to a lot lately. It is also completely heartbreaking and eerie because of the real life recordings included.
A drink for the horror that I'm in For the good guys and the bad guys For the monsters that I've been Three cheers for tyranny Unapologetic apathy 'Cause there ain't no way that I'm coming back again
I loved the idea of pairing this song with A Dowry of Blood by S. T. Gibson. Constanta becomes the monster, but she accepts her fate, and eventually uses that to her advantage.
7) Give ‘Em Hell, Kid
The guitar intro in this one is simply the best thing I’ve ever listened to and it never fails to get me excited and jumping around. I already told you this entire album makes me lose my mind, didn’t I?
Well, I'm a total wreck, and almost every day Like the firing squad or the mess you made Well, don't I look pretty walking down the street In the best damn dress I own?
This is a messy song, it’s high intensity and, as we can read and hear, the lyrics are unhinged—especially when you take into account the concept album. That’s why I wanted to link this to Boy Parts by Eliza Clark. Irina is a fascinating main character, but she’s not exactly trustworthy or sane in any way.
8) The World Is Ugly
Finally, I wanted to include this song, as I’ve only become obsessed with it in the past few weeks. It’s a slower and definitely less intense one but it’s also beautiful. Despite the title, I think that the message is one of hope and, to me, it comes across perfectly.
For every one of us There's an army of them But you'll never fight alone 'Cause I wanted you to know That the world is ugly But you’re beautiful to me
In The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester by Maya MacGregor we see many horrible things happening to Sam. But thankfully, they manage to surround themself with people that love them. The book, just like the song, sends out a message of hope. It’s an ode to living through the ugliness of the world.
Have you ever listened to My Chemical Romance? What are some of your favourite songs? Have you read the books I talked about?