Classic Review: The Black Parade

When I say “emo”, a very specific image probably comes to mind: Black hair with long, side swept bangs covering one or both eyes, black clothing, and lots and lots of eyeliner. And no band is more commonly associated with this style and emo as a whole than My Chemical Romance. Formed in 2001 as frontman Gerard Way’s response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, MCR quickly gained a following due to their dark appearance and dramatic style. Their sophomore album, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge turned them into rock radio darlings with hits like “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” and “Helena”.

However, 2006 would see MCR release their most ambitious project yet: The Black Parade, a rock opera about a young man reflecting on his life as he dies from cancer. This ambition would pay off, becoming the most commercially successful and iconic album of their career. Now, with the band reunited after their 2013 breakup, finally embarking on a twice-delayed tour and releasing their first new song in nearly a decade, it seems appropriate to revisit MCR’s magnum opus.

The album opens with a track ironically titled, “The End.” While it’s commonplace for albums to begin with something high-energy and catchy, perhaps even the lead single, “The End.”opens with the sound of a heart monitor beeping, leading into an acoustic ballad that sounds like the song of a medieval minstrel. On this track, Gerard Way introduces himself as the protagonist and primary narrator of The Black Parade, The Patient. This enchantingly unique opener eventually swells into a full band performance right at the end before abruptly cutting off.

In one of the best transitions in rock music, the sudden cutoff of “The End.” is followed by the sound of the aforementioned heart monitor flatlining that opens the aptly titled “Dead!”. This track introduces the plot, with a doctor telling The Patient that he’s as good as dead, with just two weeks to live. Despite the somber subject matter, “Dead!” is fast-paced and high energy, featuring punchy guitars played by guitarists Frank Iero and Ray Toro. Combined with an infectiously fun solo by Toro and childlike “la la la”s by Gerard to close out the track, “Dead!” sets a perfectly blended tone that’s both cynical and tongue-in-cheek.

The energy and theatrics continue throughout the next few tracks, leading up to the album’s lead single and the band;’s most iconic song, “Welcome to the Black Parade”. Inspired by Gerard Way’s belief that death comes in the form of one’s fondest memory (in the case of The Patient, seeing a marching band as a young boy), “Welcome to the Black Parade” is a summary of everything that makes this album great. The track shifts from a piano ballad to a pop-punk banger without sacrificing any of the drama. Gerard Way’s triumphant calls of “we’ll carry on” in the chorus give the song an irresistible fist-pumping energy and introduce the primary theme of the album: perseverance. With Bob Bryar’s marching band-inspired drums thematically tying the track together at the end of the piano intro, during the bridge, and throughout the outro, “Welcome to the Black Parade” is a microcosm for the album as a whole that puts the whole band’s talents on full display.

While The Black Parade excels in performance, writing, and style, it falls short in organization. Most artists don’t have to worry much about the order in which songs appear on their album; however, proper organization is essential on a concept album like The Black Parade. When an album wants to tell a story, it’s important the pages of that story, the songs, are correctly ordered. Perhaps the biggest offender on this album is “House of Wolves”, a menacing yet danceable track where The Patient contemplates whether or not he’s going to Hell after he dies, set to a jazz-inspired rhythm. While I have no particular complaints about the concept nor the execution, this track was placed between “I Don’t Love You”, a heartbreaking power ballad, and “Cancer”, a piano-led track featuring the album’s most brutally blunt lyrics. The similar style of these tracks makes them a natural choice to be put together in the track listing, but “House of Wolves” completely interrupts the flow in both the narrative and the musical style. The track would’ve been much better placed earlier in the album with the other high-energy tracks between “Dead!” and “Welcome to the Black Parade”.

Despite being a clear contender for MCR’s second most iconic song, track 11, “Teenagers” suffers from a similar issue. It’s a great song, featuring snarly vocals and bluesy guitars dripping with teenage angst and aggression. Unfortunately, the lyrical content that details the mutually terrifying adversarial relationship between teenagers and adult authority figures seems entirely unrelated to The Patient’s story. The song’s bluesy style is not matched anywhere else on the album either. And just like “House of Wolves”, it interrupts the flow between two tonally and sonically similar songs, “Sleep” and “Disenchanted”. As much as I love “Teenagers”, it should have been relegated to the B-sides, or perhaps a one-off single.

Upon first listen, it may seem that track 9, “Mama” is also out of place. The song is about a young soldier at war acknowledging his imminent death in combat, feeling disgusted by the things he’s had to do as a soldier and trying to patch up his relationship with his equally-disgusted mother before he never sees her again. While the story seems unrelated to that of The Patient, the essential message is not only relevant, but essential to the narrative of The Black Parade. Previous tracks show The Patient reflecting on his reckless and inconsiderate life choices and wondering how they’ll affect his fate in the afterlife. In “Mama”, he comes to a conclusion: he’s going to Hell. With instrumentals that sound like a twisted carnival and Way’s wailing vocals, “Mama” is easily the most theatrical track on The Black Parade and my personal pick for the album’s strongest moment.

 In a dramatic and theatrical album like The Black Parade, a grand finale is essential. The closing track, “Famous Last Words”, is just that. Similarly to “Welcome to the Black Parade”, “Famous Last Words” is a light of hope in an otherwise cynical album, pushing the album’s theme of perseverance with the powerful line of “I am not afraid to keep on living”; over the years this line would become a battle cry for young emos plagued by mental illness. But what really sells the message is the hidden track that follows it: “Blood”. 90 seconds of silence follow the triumphant conclusion of “Famous Last Words” and thus, The Black Parade, before starting “Blood”, a chipper, old-timey song only featuring Gerard Way’s vocals and piano. The song’s bitter and tongue-in-cheek lyrics carry a simple message: this world sucks the life out of you, and living kinda blows. It’s this message that helps “Famous Last Words” feel so genuine. MCR encourages listeners to choose life while not sugar coating how awful it often is.

To this day, My Chemical Romance rejects the label of “emo”, and with the awful connotations the term carried in the 2000s, those feelings are unsurprising. Despite this, The Black Parade holds up 16 years later as the quintessential emo album and one of the greatest rock albums of the 21st century.

When It Snows, It Squalls

I’m a big fan of your music, Luke Combs, but here in Illinois “When It Rains, It Pours” is overrated. Reality is that when it snows it squalls, and that is exactly what happened on April 1st and 2nd of 2022, well, mostly. No, it’s not an April Fools’ joke and it’s a bit of an exaggeration to say that it squalled, but it certainly did snow a measurable amount. I am most definitely ready for spring weather, and it doesn’t help that just two weeks ago it was over 70 degrees Fahrenheit in Chicago, but the snow today was beautiful. A serenity was cast over my backyard as I watched massive snowflakes the size of a quarter fall to the ground. Empty branches waiting to bud with green leaves were blanketed by the soft snow and the outside world seemed to momentarily still. I am aware that I sound like a nature blogger and a hopeless romantic with that last sentence, and that interpretation is accurate, but so many people take for granted these small moments of peace when the constant stresses of daily life appear never-ending.

There I was standing in front of the window in my living room, watching the April snow fall and thinking about how sad it is that so many people who have the option to stop and enjoy the simplicity in this moment choose otherwise. When it snows it really does squall, because there will never be a time in life when all stresses and hardships disappear. There will always be another blizzard with whiteout conditions to navigate through and layers of ice that keep building, but never seem to crack.  I will be the first to admit that I forget to focus on the present moment when thoughts from the past and worries about the future are always on my mind.

I did not intend to make this blog overly serious. Thoughts just came to mind about how truly small we are in comparison to the rest of the world, and this was the first moment in a long time when I felt as though I was truly present. It was just me, my thoughts, and the thick snow falling in front of me in what is supposed to be a rainy April. Let this blog be your sign to take a second to breathe; you never know when a cold, snowy afternoon in April can lead to some truly lovely moments.

Written by Ashley N

General Manager, Host

Raised by a country music-loving mother and a father who is an alternative rock enthusiast, Ashley’s taste in music cannot be pinned down to a single category. Cross Country is a music show with a little bit of country, but a whole lot of variety. There is no doubt that you will find your favorite music in her show and you can listen to Cross Country every Monday at 11:00 am! Aside from producing her radio show, you can see Ashley dabbling in her favorite hobbies of drawing, sculpting, practicing yoga, and spending time with family and friends.

Five Completed TV Series You Have To Watch

Hi there! I am Nina Stoner, one of the co-hosts of the talk show Streaming Verse. When I was brainstorming blog post ideas, I was struggling a bit. I fangirl over so many things it’s hard to narrow it down. After going back and forth on ideas, I choose to share a list of my favorite completed TV shows that are worth watching! Now of course, If I added all my favorites we would be here for days, but I spared you the pain and only listed five. I made sure they were all finished so if you feel so compelled, you can go binge watch them after reading this!

WandaVision
WandaVision will give you all the feels! You don’t have to be a Marvel fan (although it helps) to see the beauty captured within this short series. Showcasing the power of grief in such a magical and authentic Marvel way. Don’t worry, it’s not all sad! Heartwarming and comedic, I have no doubt you will fall in love with this show and the characters! This incredible show is streaming now on Disney+

Supergirl
After six seasons, Supergirl has come to an end. Sure the CGI is wack, but you are
bound to fall head over heels for these actors! Starring Melissa Benosit, Chyler Leigh, Katie McGrath, and more. With storylines focused on empowering women and overall equality for all, it’s truly a progressive superhero show. In its later seasons It even features the CW’s first transgender superhero, played by the emensly talented Nicole Maines. You can find this show on Netflix if you are interested in watching!

Teenage Bounty Hunters
Unlike the first two shows I’ve mentioned, this show was actually canceled after one season. I am so thankful for my Streaming Verse co host, Chris Smith, for introducing me to this show. It follows two teenagers who find themselves in a ridiculous situation that leads them to not only a side gig, but also a friendship. Although the ending infuriates me, because of course you want to know more, I definitely recommend this show! It is currently streaming on Netflix.

Sorry For Your Loss
Yet another show on this list that stars Elizabeth Olsen and tackles the topic of grief. This series is only two seasons, with each episode ranging about a half hour. I love this show so much because it is so raw with such a heavy topic. They don’t romanticize it, it’s just real. And that’s what I love about it! This is on Facebook Watch (Which is a free platform directly connected with facebook)

New Girl
If you want a randomly hilarious show that you can turn on whenever, this is it! New Girl is so well written and guaranteed to make you laugh at one point or another. Each episode is around twenty minutes, which makes it super convenient to get some work done, or binge watch! Some episodes feature Taylor Swift, Prince… need I say more? This is streaming on Netflix.

So there you go, some streaming recommendations for your next binge watching marathon. If five shows wasn’t enough for you, make sure to tune in to Streaming Verse every Thursday at 7PM for Chris and I’s talks on all things streaming! You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify if you have missed prior episodes! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy these shows as much as I do!

Written by Nina Stoner

An avid concertgoer and major fangirl. Nina loves all genres and styles. Media has always played a major role in Nina’s life and she is so excited to have this opportunity to share some of her favorites. In addition, she loves to fangirl out about everything streaming. Catch her every Thursday at 7pm central standard time on Streaming Verse here on WHCM!

PRESS RELEASE

March 7, 2022

Palatine, IL

Harper Radio Honored with Two (2) First Place 2022 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) Awards

The Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) has announced the winners for their 2022 Media Awards.

Harper Radio – WHCM (88.3FM) – received two (2) first place awards. The Harper Radio winners are:

  • Student Ashley Rosenthal, Harper Radio’s current General Manager, under the Best Promotional Event category for her entry “WHCM t-shirt promotion”, and
  • Erik Bonilla-Sanchez, Harper Radio’s General Manager in 2021, won the prestigious Len Mallioux Management Award in the Best Radio Station Manager – College category

The awards come on the heels of The Broadcast Education Association (BEA) 2022 Festival of Media Arts Awards. Harper Radio received two (2) first place awards (out of three [3] first place awards in total) in their 2-year College category.

Harper Radio WHCM 88.3 FM is a student run college radio station at Harper College, broadcasting across northern Chicagoland and streaming worldwide at www.harperradio.com Enjoy commercial free programming including sports, talk, news, and a variety of music. Everything you need while listening to college radio.

The Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) is an organization with a membership of over one thousand non-profit, education-affiliated radio stations and webcasters. Founded in 1940, IBS is headquartered in New Windsor, NY, with a legal office in Washington, D.C. In addition to providing support for establishing and operating noncommercial radio and webcast operations, it frequently represents its members with FCC negotiations, copyright issues, and litigation.

Media contact

Ashley Rosenthal, Harper Radio General Manager

1200 W. Algonquin Road

Palatine, IL 60067

WHCMHawkRadio@gmail.com

847/925-6000

PRESS RELEASE

March 1, 2022

Palatine, IL

Harper Radio Honored with Two (2) First Place 2022 BEA Festival of Media Arts Awards

The Broadcast Education Association (BEA) has announced winners for their 2022 Festival of Media Arts Awards. Harper Radio – WHCM (88.3FM) – received two (2) first place awards (out of three [3] first place awards in total) in the 2-year College category.

The Harper Radio first place winners are:

  • Student Mary Renner, Harper Radio’s 2021 General Manager, for her submission “Harper Radio – Get Involved” video, and
  • Student Koryn Koch for her audio entry “Hidden Harper”

Erik Bonilla-Sanchez, Harper Radio’s General Manager (preceding Mary Renner) in 2021, was honored by BEA with a third-place finish for his audio entry “It’s A Wonderful Life”

For the competition this year, BEA recognized five (5) 2-year college entries, of which Harper Radio was honored with three (3) finalists.

BEA’s international digital media and broadcast competition for faculty and students from over 300 participating schools and over 1,600 entries from around the world. All finalists will receive Festival Awards, and the winners will receive their awards at the Festival in Las Vegas on Monday, April 25th.

Harper Radio WHCM 88.3 FM is a student run college radio station at Harper College, broadcasting across northern Chicagoland and streaming worldwide at www.harperradio.com Enjoy commercial free programming including sports, talk, news, and a variety of music. Everything you need while listening to college radio.

The Broadcast Education Association (BEA) is the premier international academic media organization, driving insights, excellence in media production, and career advancement for educators, students, and professionals. The association’s publications, annual convention, web-based programs, and regional district activities provide opportunities for juried production competition and presentation of current scholarly research related to aspects of the electronic media. These areas include media audiences, economics, law and policy, regulation, news, management, aesthetics, social effects, history, and criticism, among others.

Media contact

Ashley Rosenthal, Harper Radio General Manager

1200 W. Algonquin Road

Palatine, IL 60067

WHCMHawkRadio@gmail.com

847/925-6000

Ashley Rosenthal: 2022 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Awards Finalist

Ashley Rosenthal is the current General Manager of Harper Radio and she joined the station in July of 2021. She is dedicated to broadening the outreach of WHCM and encourages others to join the light-hearted, fun, and supportive environment at the station. Ashley hosts Cross Country every Monday at 11am, a show with a little bit of country and a whole lot of variety. She loves to promote Harper Radio events on her show and has been nominated as a finalist for her “WHCM t-shirt promotion.”

Listen to Ashley’s submission below:

Keith Maurice Harris: 2022 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Awards Finalist

Keith Maurice Harris has been a host at WHCM for six years. He won Best On-Air Personality for the 2019 IBS Awards and is a finalist for the same category once again, so he is no stranger to the world of broadcasting. Want to have a great weekend, guaranteed? Start your day right by listening to the one and only Keith Maurice during The Keith Maurice Show every Saturday at 10am. Listen for a variety of music, pop culture, and Harper Campus news. It’s a show you won’t want to miss!

Listen to Keith’s submission below:

Nina Stoner: 2022 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Awards Finalist

Nina Stoner joined WHCM in 2021 and cohosts the incredible show, Streaming Verse, every Thursday at 7pm with Chris Smith. You can find her on the WHCM 88.3FM airways, streaming through our online platform, and live-streaming on our YouTube channel, Harper Radio. As the cohost of WHCM’s first show to be officially live-streamed on YouTube, Stoner’s commentary on current films and series is bound to make you smile, laugh, and hear different perspectives about the movies and shows you love.

Listen to Nina’s submissions below:

Best Podcast: https://open.spotify.com/show/7CUthYr3ecHDH7XXqItAcH?si=25f3cce2b8c64143

Best Talk Program:

Chris Smith: 2022 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Awards Finalist

Chris Smith is a true leader at WHCM for her incredible work as Social Media Manager and current cohost of Streaming Verse with Nina Stoner every Thursday at 7pm. You can count on Chris to make you laugh with her hilarious and witty commentary on WHCM 88.3 FM, www.harperradio.com, and the Harper Radio YouTube channel. Check out our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages to stay up-to-date with her latest posts about the events and exciting news at WHCM!

Listen to Chris’s submissions below:

Best Podcast: https://open.spotify.com/show/7CUthYr3ecHDH7XXqItAcH?si=25f3cce2b8c64143

Best Talk Program:

Erik Bonilla-Sanchez: 2022 BEA Festival of Media Arts and IBS Awards Finalist

2022 Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts Finalist: 2-Year College Category

2022 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) Awards Finalist: Len Mallioux Management Awards in the Best Radio Station Manager – College Category

Erik Bonilla-Sanchez has been with WHCM for five years and was the station’s General Manager in early 2021 and Program Director of the same year. Erik is a BEA finalist for his audio entry, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He was also nominated for his dedication to WHCM, major impact upon the music that is played in the automation system, and his expertise in broadcast engineering. Erik now has a full-time job as a broadcast engineer and hosts his show, Rad-io, on WHCM every Tuesday and Friday at 12pm.

Listen to Erik’s BEA award submission below:

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