Post-midnight YouTube filler: My Chemical Romance – I’m Not Okay (I Promise) (#19, March 2005)
rockabovelove96 (1 day ago) 0 Reply | Spam
i can’t believe gerard wrote this after his addicton to cocanie(i think, maybe it was somethin else) but i hav felt alone, rejected, confuesed, lost, anxious, wronged, you know. baisicly the song, except i’m a chick
You know that famous Chairman Mao quote about how “It is too soon to judge the effects of the French Revolution”? Turns out that a) Mao definitely never said that and b) even the other people who’s it’s been attributed to (mainly other Chinese politicians) probably never said it. Which is a shame, as this post would have a lot more prestige if it started with a quote from Chou En Lai rather than rockabovelove96.
The point I’d have been trying to make was that although emo is now effectively over as a legitimate A-list commercial concern (quick, hum the lead singles from either “Pretty Odd” or “Foile a Deux”. Exactly), it’s not at all clear what legacy it has left behind on the charts. On one hand you could say none: we’re now fully in the MGMT/Justice/American Apparel era of music these days, everything has to be descended from 80s electro, and the target audience is London Fashion Week afterparties, not wrist-slitting sessions. On the other hand, rappers have taken up the baton by dressing like a bunch of faggots. So maybe Pistol Pete Wentz has had some indelible impact on pop culture.
If we’re not detached enough from emo to judge its impact, at least we can consider where it reached its peak. I’m opting for “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)”. It always struck me that for all of emo’s teen-baiting mope megamix, it always lacked a proper door –slamming “I HATE YOU GUYS” track, an equivalent of the role that “Novocaine for the Soul” or “Self Esteem” served for our generation.
“I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” ticks a lot of the boxes for that. The drumming even sounds like a kid stomping up the staircase in tears. That unnecessary-but-effective swearing of “I’M NOT O-FUCKING-KAY” brings to mind something a moody teen would holler. And the lyrics as a whole. Man, the lyrics.
If we can’t quote Chou En Lai, we can at least quote Craig Finn. Here’s the erstwhile Hold Steady frontman on emo lyrics:
A lot of lyrics for 16 year olds are vague or non-specific; you can put your own meaning into them. Y’know, you’re running for something, you’re being drowned, and at 16 you can identify your own personal trauma and attach it to those lyrics. With our songs, everything’s specific, you can’t put your own experience onto it.
And that’s what this song does in spades. “I never want to let you down or have you go, it’s better off this way” “Remember when you broke your foot from jumping out the second floor” “Time and time again you sing the words but don’t know what they mean” “Another line without a hook/I hold you close as we both shook/For the last time, take a look”. And that quickly stage whispered “I promise”, which takes all of “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and does it better. In half a second. The Reduced Emo Society.
Can MCR survive the commercial drop that met FOB and P!ATD? Maybe. Unlike those two, Way and the boys are unlikely to be enlisting any three-years-out-of-date R&B producers to provide a little commercial sheen to their records. Unfortunately, there probably is a good chance they’ll be hiring Ross Robinson instead. And they’ve gone on record as saying “I think emo is fucking garbage, it’s bullshit. I think there’s bands that unfortunately [we] get lumped in with that are considered emo and by default that starts to make us emo.” Which means we’re probably about to get emo’s very own “The Spaghetti Incident” here. Fantastic.