Facts that still make me giggle: ”Welcome to the Black Parade” was a number one single in the UK…
Zach Lyon: Is this one of those songs where I’m just supposed to go “NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA” and give it a ? Cause I wanna do that. NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA (NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA)
Katie Lewis: I suddenly have the urge to go buy a brand new KIA and I don’t know why.
Iain Mew: Unexpectedly quick and dirty, there’s a fairly spectacular high wire act going on towards the end with ultracatchiness-fuelled momentum the only thing keeping an increasingly hectic stack of ideas from falling to the ground. A lot of fun.
Anthony Easton: Like the bastard nihilist child of Joan Jett and Hildegarde Knef, full energy, and an extra point for referencing jazz hands.
Chuck Eddy: Speedy, sorta catchy, with shoutalong syllables and an identifiable guitar (also maybe synth?) hook toward the end, plus a talked slowdown that manages to evoke sleazy intrigue worthy of, I dunno, D Generation or somebody mid ’90s Lower East Side like that — wow, this could darn near pass as punk rock, couldn’t it? Still comes off extremely thin and stiff á la late-period Green Day, but it’s better than I would’ve expected. Just wish they didn’t fart up “mad man” and “gas can” by rhyming them with “jazz hands,” ick.
Michaelangelo Matos: They put on one of the most outlandish shows I’ve ever seen back in 2007, and I like them in principle, but their records don’t do much for me. This short bit of ramalama is a good example of why: it scans as punk but feels more like something off the Grease 2 soundtrack.
Martin Skidmore: A straightforward punk song is something of a relief from them — but is it any good? Could have used far more aggressive and sharp guitars, more purposeful lyrics and less crappy singing, but the chorus is catchy and there is something resembling a sense of fun and the title is excellent, so it’s probably the single I’ve liked most from them, for what that’s worth.
Jer Fairall: On “Welcome To The Black Parade”, the one time that these guys had me, My Chemical Romance managed to sell their version of anthemic bombast in a way that, say, Muse never could by presenting their heavy-handedness with such conviction that the band clearly didn’t fear or even mind looking ridiculous (plus it was catchy as hell). “Na Na Na” doesn’t fear foolishness either, but there is a big difference between having such faith in yourself and your creation that you are willing to risk falling flat on your face, and outright embracing stupidity. This is nowhere near ambitious enough for its failure to be in any way noble, in other words, although coming from a writer who once came off as a tin-eared Cobain wannabe, it is somewhat amusing to find him penning exactly the kind of cloddish soft metal that Mickey Rourke’s Randy “The Ram” Robinson would have probably loved.
Al Shipley: I lost some faith in them after that corny rock opera, but the fast mean funny band I fell in love with in 2004 is back with all the euphoric mischief of “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” and then some. What puts it over the top to instant classic may be the best non-sequitur Batman reference in a pop song since “Reverend Black Grape”. I don’t even know how many times I’ve danced my one-year-old around the apartment to this song since it was released a week ago.
Mallory O’Donnell: Why do we Americans persist in thinking glam equals butt-rock in trashy makeup? Of course this was going to be dire, but at one point at least these fools were amusing. Seriously, “lemme see your jazz hands”? Please go directly back to 2003 and do not return.
Jonathan Bogart: Oh no, punk is dead, long live punk.
Edward Okulicz: Fast, tight and loud, also bratty and obnoxious too. These are things that all rock bands should be, along with a few that are nice as extras. Building a song on basically a single riff would ordinarily be a risk, but not when it’s as all-conquering as this one.
David Katz: MCR make a welcome aesthetic turn here by ditching the melodrama of The Black Parade and Three Cheers and emphasising their capacity for pure, hooky pop. And it’s pop that well and truly ROCKS – the whallop of a double-guitar rock ensemble igniting melody with noise and marveling at the reaction. Potent enough to assuage unfortunate flashbacks of ‘Chelsea Dagger’.
Tom Ewing: It’s paced like an ideal comic book – fast cuts, slogans, explosions, even a ridiculous bit of exposition in the middle. As such it lives or dies on how kinetic it is and how good its one-liners are. Respectively: very and enough — at least when you get past the Fratellis flashback intro, and the QOTSA-lite “Gimme drugs” bit. Best moment: “STANDING IN! V FORMATION!” — MCR know the audience well, and we all want to join their gang. Or, failing that, the X-Men.
Asher Steinberg: In my attempts to contextualize this song, I did some googling and was startled to read the web end of one respected magazine describe this as “nothing less than a generational call to arms.” Suffice it to say I, a member of the generation in question, am not hearing the call. However, I do think that something of that nature was intended, and in that regard would like to randomly analogize it to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, a work with similar (failed) ambitions for itself. The similarities are actually legion; both are merely competent, heavily diluted for the bestsellers/charts takes on more interesting forebears (DeLillo/Gaddis/Dickens, The Stooges/MC5/Springsteen), both mistake cultural inventory for cultural criticism (“plastic surgery”, “Ritalin rats”), bigness for Big Meaning, and triteness for profundity (“everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to die” is only a tad more sophomoric than some of the disquisitions on freedom in Freedom), both aspire to say something about America but have nothing to say about it. On top of which MCR throw in some faults peculiar to their genre, e.g adolescent nihilism and ‘Sounds of Silence’-inspired lyrics. However, three things, to my mind, make this a better song than Freedom is a book: it’s very hooky (albeit a bit too hooky), well-constructed, and undeniably fun, however stupid it is; it doesn’t, unlike Freedom or much of Big Message Pop, condescend — it rather presumes that we’re just as mad about things as they are (and also that we’re not part of some special knowing in crowd, united by disdain for all other living things); and there is some sense of genuinely felt rage about the current state of affairs — the artificiality is in the execution, not the sentiment behind the thing. While I don’t share in that sentiment, I always like sincerity.
John Seroff: Incandescently upbeat Gleek fodder that won’t likely get a quarter of the critical love that Janelle Monae’s artsier stuff does, which is a bit of a shame. “Na Na Na” shares lots of the same DNA as, say, “Come Alive” but Chemical Romance dodges rock ’n’ roll pretension and spacechild mythologies in favor of forward thrust and Hedwig homage. So what if the lyrics read like a Punk 4 Dummies pop quiz? This shit’s gonna sound awesome on Guitar Hero.
Ian Mathers: However you feel about The Black Parade, it’s worth remembering that the music that made My Chemical Romance famous was much more concerned with the sort of things that make rock music sound awesome when you’re a teenager: melody, velocity, quotability. The, uh, “trailer” that’s up at YouTube doesn’t have me too optimistic about their new album as a whole (b-but Grant Morrison!), but “Na Na Na” isn’t just a return to their old form; it’s easily the best thing to hit rock radio in a long time.
Kat Stevens: “Of course they’re based on us,” announced Way on the band’s Twitter feed. “These guys just copied our style and songs, making a mockery of the whole business. Just look at the song they used on the closing credits where the kids dressed as sexy vampires are jumping up and down on the cars, symbolising the futility of repression. We did something just like that back in 2010.” Guest and Shearer have shrugged off Way’s criticisms. The pair have had a long history of parodying bands from various musical genres such as heavy metal (Spinal Tap, 1984), folk (A Mighty Wind, 2003) and neo-dubcrunk (Are You There Pitchfork It’s Me Kanye, 2013). “It was almost too easy,” said Guest. “We were worried it might not be funny, that people would think we were just being dicks. But we had so much fun making it that we couldn’t keep it to ourselves.” Mascara Dreams: Your Nightmares opens in cinemas from Friday.