Thursday, December 10, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #36: Teenagers by My Chemical Romance

Let's be completely honest.  It's an uncomfortable feeling when you first admit, "Wow, I think I like My Chemical Romance."  Something about it seems very unnatural.  And yet as time goes on, you eventually are left with no choice but to look in the mirror and come to grips with the fact that The Black Parade has been in your car for the last three years.  Once you're honest with this self-realization, you'll find yourself lifted of any perceived guilt and secure in your enjoyment of ridiculously hook-laden emo pop.  After all, these guys are basically the new millennium's answer to Queen, and there's not a thing wrong with that.

My first exposure to My Chemical Romance came via MTV2's now-departed Subterranean series.  And I place all blame, for better or worse, on Marc Webb.
Before Webb was bringing twee indie cred to Hall and Oates, he was creating video concepts such as this one, which is basically the John Hughes archetype plus mascara.

Eyeliner and self-awareness rarely go hand in hand, so upon that first viewing, I had no idea what to make of this band. Ordinarily I would laugh them off as clearly ridiculous, but they seem to give off a vibe that they're in on the joke, which I find disarming and troubling.  I want to be able to mock with a clear conscience!

Then there was this:
So all that stuff I said about the first video being borderline ridiculous goes right out the window here.  But from an art direction standpoint, it's compelling time after time.  I was sold even before I saw the insane umbrella choreography.  The song is not great, but I love Webb's trademark of pumping the color contrast until he's created an artificial canvas.

The playfulness that Webb brought to this band seemed to disappear when they did two videos with Samuel Bayer.  The songs off The Black Parade are awesome in their unrelenting grandiose pomposity, but Bayer is a terrible director and his attempts to create epic gritty visuals leaves him looking like a poor imitation of David Fincher, and leaves the band taking themselves way too seriously, which doesn't serve their mission.

And yet when they reunited with Webb, it was magic again.  "Teenagers" rides a riff pulled directly from the T-Rex vaults, and the video concept seems to be based on "What are things that would look awesome?"  Going back to the soaked out colors?  Check.  Cheerleaders behind the band?  Check.  Gasmasks and rioting?  Of course!  In fact, the video could easily be taken as an homage to a seminal clip that a great band once kept Bayer from ruining.

And the confetti is a nice touch.

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