Every My Chemical Romance music video, ranked from ‘worst’ to best
When announcing their (still-to-happen) comeback tour in January 2020, My Chemical Romance livestreamed the short film A summoning, a 12-minute, cinematic piece referencing all of their different albums and eras. The film was a cornucopia of Easter eggs for MCR fans, and summed up the band’s storied career by highlighting how important their visuals and aesthetic have become for those who love them. My Chem’s videos were often a way to show fans the comprehensive concepts and plots behind their records, or sometimes to portray entertaining and captivating standalone storylines. In the process, they came to be known as band whose fully-realized music videos are a vital part of their identity.
Here’s a definitive ranking of every My Chemical Romance music video, ordered from worst (or should we say ‘least-great’) to best…
MCR’s shortest video and technically their most recent, 2014’s Blood acts as an epilogue of sorts to the Teenagers video, showing the band in a locker room presumably after Teenagers takes place. It’s less than a minute and a half long, but it features special appearances from the Teenagers cheerleaders and a pretty adorable dog. Gerard Way gives a quintessentially impassioned and dramatic performance, but the rest of the members just kind of do their own thing.
17. Vampires Will Never Hurt You
Before the high-production videos My Chemical Romance came to be known for, there was their first batch of DIY videos. Vampires Will Never Hurt You – their first – shows MCR in their early days (look how young they look! Ray Toro has short hair!), and while it may not have had the scale of their later videos, it still proves that the band had the same level of ambition. Gerard was still very much the same performer he’s always been, energetic and expressive, while the video also introduces viewers to the Demolition Lovers, characters who would pop up again and again throughout the band’s career.
16. Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough For The Two Of Us
Another early effort, Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough For The Two Of Us showed off My Chem’s knack for writing storylines. This video tells a complete and surprising narrative with a shocking twist, all in the span of three minutes, based at least in part on the 1999 Japanese horror film Audition. The result is super-chilling and creepy, with captivating performances and a compelling plot, though due to where MCR were at when it was made, it’s merely a glimpse at what they were capable of…
15. I’m Not Okay (I Promise) (original version)
While the original I’m Not Okay (I Promise) was quickly eclipsed by the later ‘official’ video the band did for the same song, it is great to see footage of MCR being themselves before they got big. The first I’m Not Okay video gives an insight into the lives of young My Chemical Romance – complete with tour buses, action figures and drawings – while the live footage montage provides viewers with the powerful vibe of an early show. The highlight, though, is almost certainly the baby photos of Gerard and Mikey, which will have even the most casual of fan cooing with glee.
14. Fake Your Death
Fake Your Death, released shortly after My Chem announced their break-up, was for a previously-unreleased song that felt a little odd seeing as the band were parting ways (and which led fans to speculate about MCR’s eventual return). The video features what was then a heart-breaking montage of clips from My Chemical Romance’s music videos and behind-the-scenes footage, looking back at what we all thought would be the entirety of their career. Back then, it was a way of saying goodbye; today, it allows fans to look back at their history, growth, and eventual reunion.
13. Planetary (GO!)
A beautifully shot and edited live montage, Planetary (GO!) avoids the usual exhaustion of performance videos with visual effects and comic book-like text play over footage of the band performing the song in concert. The video also maintains the color and feel of the other Danger Days videos even though it’s not set in the album’s fictional landscape. It’s hard not to feel the energy and excitement of the live show when watching this one, and though it is a live video, it still manages to feel out of this world.
12. The Kids From Yesterday
The Kids From Yesterday is arguably My Chemical Romance’s best live video, incorporating footage from across their career (including from the original video for I’m Not Okay) in a brilliant and heartwarming nod to the title. Watching this footage lets fans see their heroes grow up and turn into the Killjoys, slowly transitioning from vans and clubs to festivals and arenas. It’s a powerful examination of who My Chem are and where they’ve been, outside of all the costumes and concepts.
11. SING It For Japan
Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, My Chemical Romance recorded a new version of SING with the proceeds going towards the relief efforts, and they released a video for the track with a little help from their fans. This touching footage presents a beautifully reimagined orchestral arrangement of SING, played over heartwarming footage of fan messages showing solidarity for Japan, with Ray and the MCRmy listed as the directors. Both this version of the song and the video are incredibly moving – especially because they were created for such a good cause.
10. Famous Last Words
This theatrical Black Parade-era video was also probably the most dangerous to create. The band filmed Famous Last Words straight after Welcome To The Black Parade, with MCR playing the track in their costumes, surrounded by flames, with the iconic float burning in the background. During the shoot, Gerard tore the ligaments in his ankle and drummer Bob Bryar sustained third-degree burns on his leg, which led to gangrene and a blood infection. Thankfully, both recovered from their injuries, and the story of the video’s creation now stands as an example of the lengths to which the band would go for their work.
9. Desolation Row
When My Chemical Romance were asked to cover this Bob Dylan classic for the 2009 metal superhero movie Watchmen, they decided to do it in a classic punk-rock style a la the film’s ’80s setting, which obviously informs the look in the video. Packed with references to Alan Moore’s genre-changing graphic novel – of which Gerard is a big fan – the video is so well-made that even though it’s mainly just performance shots, it’s still so exciting to watch. The colors stand out, the lighting is dramatic, the feel is cinematic… all of this makes Desolation Row a rare example of a soundtrack one-off that actually delivers.
8. I Don’t Love You
Another concept-driven masterpiece, I Don’t Love You shows My Chemical Romance once again embracing their ambitious and creative side. The video tells the story of a romance set in a fantastical world, interspersed between close-up shots of Gerard giving an emotional performance and musical instruments exploding. And the whole thing is in black-and-white, following the record’s color scheme but presenting it in a new way. A powerful tribute to classic cinema that still feels inherently My Chem.
7. Welcome To The Black Parade
This video had a truly immense task: set up and represent an elaborate concept, including a new cast of characters, with a five-minute song representing a make-or-break record. Of course, the end product pulled this off spectacularly, and showed the world just how ambitious this emo-punk act from Newark truly were. Directed by Samuel Bayer (known for his work with Green Day and Nirvana), the video shows the band members as their alter-egos clad in black marching-band outfits on a magnificent float, playing to the album’s central character The Patient. Arguably the birth of MCR as the conceptual minds that fans now know them as today.
My Chemical Romance videos have consistently impressive choreography, with Teenagers being a prime example. The video showcased an unexpected and somewhat unsettling dance done by cheerleaders in gas masks as My Chemical Romance perform in a high school gymnasium to a group of fans, all before the whole thing descends into chaos. It’s weird, it’s well-executed, it’s over-the-top, it’s surprising, and it’s impossible to look away from – all of the best components of My Chemical Romance’s most powerful videos.
For the first two Danger Days videos, My Chemical Romance kicked off a storyline that expanded from one song to the next; SING was the second part, presenting the dramatic end to the plot started in the Na Na Na video. Set in dystopian California in 2019, the video brings the album’s high-octane world to life, with the band performing in their roles as the Killjoys. Action-packed and futuristic, this video has all of the makings of a good science-fiction movie: blasters, bright lights and a heroic-yet-tragic fight scene to end it all.
4. The Ghost Of You
The Ghost Of You is less a music video and more the shortest war epic ever made. And like any great war movie, it comes with its fair share of tragedy and drama: half of the video takes place during full-bore battle sequences on the beach, while the other half features My Chem in period uniforms performing for soldiers who are saying goodbye to their sweethearts before heading to the frontlines. The most breathtaking scene is of course when the dance floor dissolves into the battlefield. For that alone, this video deserves an Oscar.
3. Na Na Na
The first of the Danger Days two-parter, the video for Na Na Na is what many action movies can only aspire to be, seamlessly introducing viewers to both the Killjoys and the colorful, explosive world of Danger Days. It’s an impressive feat of world-building, but more importantly it’s a really fun video to watch, showing the Killjoys in Mad Max-ish action before ending with a cliffhanger that sets up SING. A perfect example of a music video that’s worth expanding into a full 90-minute movie.
2. I’m Not Okay (I Promise) (second version)
Everything about the final I’m Not Okay (I Promise) video works perfectly – from the movie trailer format, to the ‘If you ever felt…’ moments, to the high school setting. The footage is a hilarious mix of antics, pranks and twists which show what it’s like growing up. More importantly, I’m Not Okay speaks to all those who feel lost and misunderstood, offering hope by communicating the message that there are others out there who are going through exactly the same thing. In many ways, the video created a sense of connection and assurance, and showed the MCRmy that they weren’t alone even as it referenced classic ’80s high school cinema. Genuinely impossible to improve.
Helena isn’t just the best My Chemical Romance video, it may be one of the best music videos ever made (the video’s director, Marc Webb, feels the same). It takes place at a funeral service, referencing the death of Gerard and Mikey’s grandmother Elena Lee Rush (who was also called Helen) which inspired the track. But this is no ordinary funeral, featuring full-blown dance sequences – including one from the deceased. The choreography is impeccable, from the dancers in front of the podium, to the sequence where they’re snapping in front of the coffin, to the scenes where they’re dancing with umbrellas in the rain. But not only is Helena a treat for the eyes, but it also showed how visually powerful My Chemical Romance were ready to be, and took the band to new artistic heights. It’s no wonder the video earned five MTV VMA nominations in 2005, with one of the winners that year, Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, saying that Helena should have won instead. So long, and goodnight.
Read this next:
Gerard Way has reflected on My Chemical Romance’s writing process on The Black Parade, and discussed how he’s been working on music “lately”. Ooooh!
The greatest British rock star of this generation truly struts his stuff headlining the Friday night of Download Pilot.