Music Review: My Chemical Romance’s “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys”

Instead of reviewing a newer album, I decided today that I wanted to write about an older album that I’m incredibly fond of.

On my drive back to school from Thanksgiving break, I got stuck in heavy traffic. I have a 3+ hour drive and most of it is on the turnpike. I was in the car for about 4 1/2 hours the day I drove back, and the only thing that kept me sane was this album, which I listened to a whole 3 times (along with some other music).

The album that I’m talking about is Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, the last album from My Chemical Romance before they broke up. It’s hard for me to decide whether or not this album or The Black Parade is my favorite from them, but this is for sure up there.

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Anyway, I’ve been listening to a lot of MCR these days. It reminds me of my younger middle school days, and I kind of miss the music I listened to back then. I listened to a lot of Panic! At the Disco and Fall Out Boy, which I still listen to today. I mean, for Pete’s sake (haha, get it? Pete? Pete Wentz? No? Okay.), Fall Out Boy is still my favorite band (I saw them in concert at the end of October and it was great). Back in the day I was also a huge fan of MCR, and I’m just bringing it back now.

Maybe I’m regressing back into my old emo phase. Or maybe I just miss the music. Either way, who cares? Danger Days is a fucking great album. It’s absolutely magnificent.

Now let’s talk shop.

Look Alive, Sunshine

This is the first “song” on the album. I put song in quotations because it’s not actually a song, but more of a spoken introduction to the entire album. Like many of their past albums, Danger Days tells a story. The story is that in the year 2019, the world is a post-apocalyptic wasteland controlled by a corporation called Better Living Industries (BL/ind). A select few people, called the Killjoys, are fighting against the corporation. Obviously the members of the band are the Killjoys, and they all have fun nicknames/alter-egos. This includes Party Poison (lead singer Gerard Way), Fun Ghoul (rhythm guitarist and my personal favorite Frank Iero), Kobra Kid (bass guitar Mikey Way), and Jet-Star (lead guitar Ray Toro).

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“Look Alive, Sunshine” is made to sound like a radio broadcast from the Killjoy DJ Dr. Death Defying (voiced by Steve Montano from Mindless Self Indulgence.) Dr. Death runs a pirate radio, which means he’s not licensed to actually have the radio program. Regardless, he acts as a “guide” for the Killjoys, spreading news and the like to them in a few tracks on the album, which you’ll see later.

This 29 second track gets you hyped for what’s to come. It leads directly in to the next song Na Na Na [Na Na Na Na Na Na] (the songs change with the words “The future is bulletproof…”). The intro is included in the music video for the next song, which can be viewed below.

Na Na Na [Na Na Na Na Na Na]

This is my ultimate hype song. When I’m driving down the turnpike on my way to and from college, pushing 90 and having a good time by myself, this is the song I like to listen to. The beat gets me going, and I don’t understand what the lyrics mean whatsoever, but they’re absolutely perfect to chant and scream along to. Part of what makes this song so enjoyable for me is the music video. In the video, you start to get a background on the album as a whole. Everything – from the song to the story line to the aesthetic – drew me in right away. Backing up the idea of listening to this song while speeding down the turnpike, the music video depicts the killjoys driving around while this song plays, kicking ass and taking names. It’s perfect.

You can see the music video here:

Bulletproof Heart

One of the most iconic lines on the album, for me, is the first line in this song. Lead singer Gerard Way sings “Gravity don’t mean to much to me.” Like, obviously gravity means a lot to me, but just the way he sings it is great. While not a slow song, it’s definitely not the most hype on the album. Either way, it’s perfect. With allusions to Killer’s songs in the lyrics, there’s a lot to love with this song.

And I too have a bulletproof heart.

SING

This song is perfect for belting. Whenever I listen to it, whether it’s in my car, in the shower, or just hanging out in my room, I go hard. The band takes a more sober, polished approach to this song than a few of their other rambunctious pieces. Instead of making you feel triumphant, energetic, and bouncy like “Na Na Na,” it leaves you a little angry and restless, like you have something to prove to everyone and you’re proving it with this song. The music video for “Sing” picks up where the last video ended. It shows an epic rescue attempt of The Girl, who got taken in the last video, but has an ultimately sad ending for the Killjoys.

Regardless, it’s a kick ass song.

You can check out the music video here:

Planetary (GO!)

Another one of the more hype songs on the album. While it makes me want to drive fast, the type of hype that this song inspires makes me want to run more than anything. Not like run on a track, but kind of like a high speed foot chase, if that makes any sense. It’s for sure a beat-driven track, perfect for dancing and jumping around to.

There’s a music video for this song, but it doesn’t add to the Killjoy’s story line. You can check it out on YouTube if you want.

The Only Hope for Me is You

This is one of the songs on the album that although it’s not my favorite, it’s definitely a highlight for a lot of other people. It’s an ode to someone you love, someone who’s your only hope who might see you as their only hope too. Although it’s another less hype song, Way’s vocals shine through here. If you didn’t know this about me before, I’m a big fan of singing and voices. I’m not very good myself, but I love listening to other people sing.

Jet-Star and the Kobra Kid/Traffic Report

This is the next track on the album that features Dr. Death Defying. Like “Look Alive, Sunshine,” this isn’t an actual song, but another broadcast. In this broadcast you learn that Kobra Kid (Mikey Way) and Jet-Star (Ray Toro) got caught in “clap” with an exterminator that went “all Costa Rica.” He goes on to say they got themselves “ghosted,” and he encourages his listeners to “keep your boots tight, keep your gun close, and die with your mask on if you’ve got to.” He introduces them next to the traffic, which is the next song on the album.

It’s not a song, but it’s cool. It adds to the story behind the whole thing and I like it.

Party Poison

This song is a continuation of the “Traffic Report” in the last track. For me, this song has a special kind of energy to it. It’s another one of the more hype tracks on the album, and definitely ranks in my top favorites on Danger Days. It’s the kind of bounce-off-the-walls song that I’d love to see live. I can see myself losing my mind to this song at a concert if MCR ever gets back together (which, by the way, you can’t force them to do. So many people are pushing for MCR to get back together to play the final Warped Tour, but if it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be. Let the boys live.)

There’s not much else to say other than the fact that you should check this track out.

Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back

Like “The Only Hope for Me is You,” this is not one of the standout tracks for me, but I still enjoy it. There’s not a single song on this album that I’m willing to skip. The song’s lyrics, like a lot of the other lyrics on the album, tackle the idea that the fans should stand up for what they like and what they listen to and they shouldn’t care what other people think. Overall, I like the song. It’s a good one. Not to fast, not to slow. The instrumentals shine and so does Way’s voice. It’s just not my favorite.

S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W

“S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W” is a song that relates to the Killjoy story line. It can be seen as a reaction to a bomb being dropped. In the story, the S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W Unit is a squadron comparable to a police force led by the leader of Better Living Industries. In the song, lead singer Way warns “everybody hide your body from the scarecrow.” In the story, you hide your body from the scarecrow because the S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W unit has the ability to bring your body back to life as a “Draculoid” to do their bidding. If you look at the song outside the story, hiding your body from a scarecrow can mean hiding yourself from bad things that you don’t want in your life, be it a person, a place, or a thing.

I enjoy this song. I like that it adds to the story line, but I also like that it can be a stand alone piece of art. It’s just the right type of slow that I like in a song. It’s not one of my favorites, but it has its own way of strengthening the album.

Summertime

This is probably my second favorite song on the album. It’s another slow-ish song and it has nothing to do with the actual Killjoy’s story line. Instead, the song’s lyrics are more personal to Gerard Way’s life, probably written about his wife (Lindsey Way from Mindless Self Indulgence). Overall, it’s a beautiful, soft song about love. As much as I love the hype songs, I’m a sucker for hard bands taking it down a notch and writing something sweet. This is definitely a highlight on the album.

DESTROYA

While this song can somewhat relate to the story line, it’s also an empowering anthem for the listener. The song is a hard-hitting song all about self-empowerment and finding faith in yourself to overcome the odds that are put in front of you. I’m a big fan of all the anger that is conveyed in this song, from Way’s vocals to the guitars and drums.

“Destroya” can also be related to the comic book series Gerard Way created about the album, called The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, in which Destroya is a robotic god worshiped by the inhabitants of a post-apocalyptic city. The inhabitants believe that one day Destroya will free them all from the city they’re bound to.

The Kids From Yesterday

The opening of this songs reminds me a lot of a Gorillaz song with it’s catchy synth. This is one of the slower songs on the album, and lead singer Gerard Way’s vocals still shine brightly on this track, but a lot of the appeal of this song comes from the lyrics. The band got so popular because their lyrics spoke to teens who were struggling and felt like they didn’t fit in. This song is just another example of the kind of writing that pulled teens in. The song was written as a way for the band to look back on their lives, but it was also a song for fans to listen to and think about how they’ve grown as well.

Even if it’s not my favorite song on the album, there will always be a special place in my heart for this song. I love the nostalgic feeling I get from it. It really makes me think about who I was as a young kid and how much I’ve grown since then. I’m not going to say that My Chemical Romance saved my life, because it was never like that for me; I wasn’t a sad teenager. But now that I’m older and listening to it again, it reminds me of all the struggles I’ve faced in college up until now. Not to be cliche, but it really speaks to me, and I appreciate it.

You can view the music video here:

Goodnite, Dr. Death

This is the last track that has Dr. Death Defying on it. He tells listeners that “the lights are out and the party’s over.” He says he’s going on the run, and he leaves the listeners with a warning about the sun, as well as the words “Remember, even if you’re dusted, you may be gone, but out here in the desert, your shadow lives on without you. This is Dr. Death Defying, signing off.”

At the end of his speech, the star spangled banner begins to play, but it quickly delves into a chaotic (loud) ending. I’m not gonna lie – I usually listen to the speaking part and skip the ending because it hurts my ears and has the potential to blow out the speakers in my car.

Vampire Money

This might be my favorite song on the album. The song opens with upbeat drums and Way asking the other members if they’re ready to start. I knew I would love this song even before Way started singing, and I was not disappointed. The song was written after Way saw Twilight and he wanted to make fun of it. Not only does he make fun of the movie, with references to sparkling and Volvo cars, but he also pokes fun at Hollywood in general (and even the fame that the band has gained) by singing about giving him “vampire money.” It’s catchy and upbeat, and it’s another good example of songs that make you wanna speed down the turnpike blasting it. It feels like a slightly more polished version of something you’d hear a band play at a garage show. It’s fucking awesome.

Even if that doesn’t sell you, the lyrics will. Who doesn’t love the line “Sparkle like Bowie in the morning sun”? It’s definitely one of the most underrated My Chem lyric, and it deserves more love. Really, this whole album deserves more love. The concept is so drastically different from The Black Parade and Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, but it’s still so classically My Chemical Romance that you have to love it.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this. If you’re interested in the album, give it a listen on Spotify below, or find it on YouTube:

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