Throwback Thursday: “Teenagers” by MCR

Despite my propensity for angst, I was never an emo kid in high school. “Teenagers” is the only song by My Chemical Romance I ever listened to. I have such vivid memories of playing the song really loudly when I hung out with my friends after school. We thought we were so cool and edgy because the lyrics say “shit” a lot. (Yes, I was/am a dork. Let’s move on.)

The song was produced by Rob Cavallo, who also worked with the Goo Goo Dolls and Green Day. “Teenagers” definitely has the feel of that era in pop punk: staticy guitar and heavy drums. There’s a long guitar solo before the final chorus kicks in. The chorus itself explodes with noise. Gerard Way’s voice also has an accent that’s common to the genre. It’s rounded and dismissive, which is fitting for the aggressiveness of MCR’s aesthetic. (This article goes into more detail about the “pop punk accent”; long but worth a read.)

The lyrics are definitely controversial, especially with their references to violence, but I think that’s another common aspect of pop punk: it’s intentionally provocative. I have a different relationship to the lyrics now than I did when I was a teenager. I listen to them with a kind of fondness for who I was back then and how much more dramatic everything seemed. Still, I’m grateful that I’m not a teenager anymore.

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