Song Meaning, Song Lyrics and Music Analysis: “Sing” (by My Chemical Romance)

Song Meaning, Song Lyrics and Music Analysis: “Sing” (by My Chemical Romance)

My Chemical Romance Sing Single CoverIn general, I hate the most popular songs off of albums. However, while browsing the Top Sellers in the iTunes Store, I came across “Sing” (from the November 2010-released “Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys” album), and in turn, came across My Chemical Romance as a whole. This is one instance where I’m grateful I was excited by a hit song. “Sing” is a fun song, an uplifting and bouncy and happy song, and it has quite possibly my favorite official music video ever set to it. But it’s also a song with a level of depth that impressed me enough to make me a big fan of My Chemical Romance.

Music Video:

Lyrics:

Sing it out,
Boy, you got to see what tomorrow brings.
Sing it out,
Girl, you got to be what tomorrow needs.

For every time.
That they want to count you out,
Use your voice,
every single time you open up your mouth.

Sing it for the boys,
Sing it for the girls,
Every time that you lose it sing it for the world.
Sing it from the heart,
Sing it till you’re nuts,
Sing it out for the ones that’ll hate your guts.
Sing it for the deaf,
Sing it for the blind,
Sing about everyone that you left behind.
Sing it for the world,
Sing it for the world.

Sing it out,
Boy, they’re gonna sell what tomorrow needs
Sing it out,
Girl, they’re gonna kill what tomorrow brings
You’ve got to make a choice,
If the music drowns you out.
And raise your voice,
Every single time they try and shut your mouth.

Sing it for the boys,
Sing it for the girls,
Every time that you lose it sing it for the world.
Sing it from the heart,
Sing it till you’re nuts,
Sing it out for the ones that’ll hate your guts.
Sing it for the deaf,
Sing it for the blind,
Sing about everyone that you left behind.
Sing it for the world,
Sing it for the world.

Cleaned-up corporation progress,
Dying in the process.
Children that can talk about it,
Living on the webways.
People moving sideways,
Sell it till your last days.
Buy yourself the motivation,
Generation nothing.
Nothing but a dead scene,
Product of a white dream.
I am not the singer that you wanted,
but a dancer.
I refuse to answer,
Talk about the past,
Sir and wrote it for the ones who want to get away.

Keep running!

Sing it for the boys,
Sing it for the girls,
Every time that you lose it sing it for the world.
Sing it from the heart,
Sing it till you’re nuts,
Sing it out for the ones that’ll hate your guts.
Sing it for the deaf,
Sing it for the blind,
Sing about everyone that you left behind.
Sing it for the world,
Sing it for the world.

You’ve got to see what tomorrow brings!
Sing it for the world,
Sing it for the world.
Yeah, you’ve got to be what tomorrow needs!
Sing it for the world,
Sing it for the world.

Analysis:

We’ll take it line-by-line, starting with the opening verse: “Sing it out/Boy, you got to see what tomorrow brings/Sing it out/Girl, you got to be what tomorrow needs.” …Well, that sounds sexist. I’m pretty certain that it wasn’t the intent here to imply that girls need to do what’s necessary for the future while boys just sit around watching, and that “Boy” and “Girl” could have been used interchangeably in these lyrics. But anyway, these opening lines set the tone for the entire song–of youth looking to the future and planning for what’s necessary to improve it.

“For every time./That they want to count you out/Use your voice/every single time you open up your mouth.” Every time “they want to count you out”? “They” who? Let’s hold on to that for a minute. It’s sorta interesting that the lines clarify to “use your voice/every single time you open up your mouth”. If not their own voice, then whose voice would youth be using? And who would be counting out youth? Simple: the older generation. Those with authority, those with power, those with a lack of faith in the generation coming up to replace them. The older generation doesn’t want to hear the true “voice” of the younger generation, they want to control youth and make the younger generation follow their own ideals and beliefs to maintain the status quo.

Now, to the chorus. All but one of these lines begin with “Sing it”–What’s meant by “Sing it” exactly? Well, song is something that people do to express themselves, but it’s typically more personal and something that a lot of people are resistant to doing due to fear or shyness or feelings of inadequacy. Every person’s voice is different, and their song is also unique–so telling youth to “sing it” is encouraging youth to share their own unique ideas with the world instead of backing down or being afraid. 

“Sing it for the boys/Sing it for the girls”–Well, no discrimination here. We’re “singing” for both the boys and girls, in other words, the youth of all mankind (regardless of gender).

“Every time that you lose it sing it for the world/Sing it from the heart/Sing it till you’re nuts” is basically just a set of lines encouraging continued “singing” no matter what–both as a defense when you “lose it”, and as an unyielding expression of yourself (“from the heart… till you’re nuts”).

“Sing it out for the ones that’ll hate your guts.” You have a responsibility to be yourself and do the best that you can for the world not just for yourself and those you care about, but for everyone–including those that hate you as well. Overly optimistic? Perhaps. But a very nice ideal all the same.

“Sing it for the deaf/Sing it for the blind” implies that you need to give everything you have not only , but to make the world a better place for those with weaknesses or handicaps who aren’t able to do quite as much to make the world as great as possible.

“Sing about everyone that you left behind” refers to the reality that once you make the transition from child into adult, you need to leave people behind–be they family, friends, or classmates–in order to go out into the world and make a life and place for yourself. But even so, you shouldn’t forget about those people and experiences–you need to remember them because they’ve made you who you are and influence your actions every day of your life.

“Boy, they’re gonna sell what tomorrow needs/Girl, they’re gonna kill what tomorrow brings/You’ve got to make a choice/If the music drowns you out./And raise your voice/Every single time they try and shut your mouth.” These lines depict the clearest danger and conflict in the song–the idea that “they” are going to ruin the future with their actions. The only way this bleak world can be avoided is by the younger generation making a choice–the choice to act and speak out for themselves against their established elders in order to take control and save the future.

“Talk about the past/Sir and wrote it for the ones who want to get away” reinforces the earlier idea from the line “Sing about the ones that you left behind” that you need to remember the past and where you came from in order to fully understand the world around you and improve the future.

Then we come to a very fast section of the song which, while only repeated once, contains a lot of the core ideas of this song. The first two lines of this section are: “Cleaned-up corporation progress/Dying in the process.” This is sort’ve an ambiguous pair of lines, but contains the idea that corporations need to make progress in cleaning up their act–they shouldn’t stay the same or be as corrupt as they have been in the past. The follow-up line is “dying in the process”, which implies the difficulty in making this change–the company itself may die trying to reform in the corrupt business world around it, or the people trying to incite this change may be killed by the resistance to it.

“Children that can talk about it/Living on the webways” is a pair of lines that I initially thought referred to the notion that children are just talking online and living on the Internet instead of being outside actually doing things in the “real world”. But then I looked up “webways” and found an additional meaning: “In the game Warhammer 40,000, The Eldar cannot travel through Warpspace in the same way the Imperium does, because they lack the equivalent of Navigators, making the trip extremely dangerous. Instead they rely on a system of ancient ‘tunnels’ through the Warp known as the Webway.” I’m not sure if this was intentional word choice or not, but I like the duality of this line, as this interpretation of “webways” also illustrates children playing in a fictitious game world instead of in reality.

“People moving sideways” refers to people who aren’t really going anywhere–they’re not moving forward and advancing themselves or the world (or even movign backwards and regressing)–they’re staying at the same level and maintaining the status quo. “Buy yourself the motivation/Generation nothing” is a pair of lines that further this idea of this generation of people who lack the motivation to do anything to change the world and leave a lasting impact, thus being generation “nothing”.

“Nothing but a dead scene/Product of a white dream” is a tricky pair of lines. The imagery evoked by words like “nothing”, “dead scene”, and “white dream” is of just that–a static area with nothing going on. No progress being made, no dreams being pursued, no actions taking place. This fits very well with the prior lines, which are about people failing to do anything with their lives.

“I am not the singer that you wanted/but a dancer.” Awesome, awesome line. Probably my favorite of this song. The speaker is affirming, through song, in a song about singing to express one’s own unique self, that the speaker is in fact not the “singer” that others wanted him to be but actually a “dancer”. While singing is something that can be done while remaining static and just opening your mouth and not really doing much of anything, dancing entails movement, action, and getting up and actually doing something. The speaker has asserted that he’s the type of person who actually acts on his beliefs instead of just talking about them.

Then we come upon a line that seems to exist totally on its own within this song: “Keep Running!” What? Well, the easiest explanation is that this line is meant to encourage continued intesive action by the younger generation. In addition, one of the things I absolutely love about the “Danger Days” album is that it’s a recursive one. The songs that comprise this album reference each other, and the themes of the songs complement and blend into each other. The line “Keep Running!” calls upon ideas expressed earlier in the album in the song “Bulletproof Heart”. I want to analyze that song in the future, but as a quick summary, the idea expressed in that song is a desire to “run away” from the expectations and restrictions placed on one’s self by society. So in two loaded words, this song is able to call upon all of the ideas and feelings contained within “Bulletproof Heart” and add those ideas to its own.

We close out with all optimism and a positive affirmation: “You’ve got to see what tomorrow brings!/Sing it for the world/Sing it for the world/Yeah, you’ve got to be what tomorrow needs!” The speaker is professing that the younger generation must live to see the future as themselves and become that which the future needs in order to prosper and be the best that it can be.

Summary:

“Sing” is a song about how to live life fully and make the best of your time here on Earth. The young and upcoming generation (and generations after that) cannot and should not just sit around doing nothing of importance and allowing the world to remain stagnant. Maintaining the status quo is not acceptable–every generation has the potential to create change and improvement in the world around them. Individuals need to be themselves and act and speak out for what they believe in, as opposed to accepting the expectations placed on them by the older generation that create limitations on their potential.

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3 Responses to Song Meaning, Song Lyrics and Music Analysis: “Sing” (by My Chemical Romance)

  1. Rachel says:

    Wow. This is a great analysis. Just what I was looking for, but…I also came across some yahoo answer sites that said something important. If you want to truly understand where this video/song is coming from, you need to watch MCR’s “Na Na Na”; there will be 3 videos to make this up, sort of like a trilogy. No one really knows what song the third one will be set to yet.

  2. Bec says:

    I think you did an excellent job of analysing this song.

    I just wanted to mention that I agree with your interpretation of ‘I am not the singer that you wanted but a dancer’. I’ve had that lyric stuck in my mind for ages trying to work out what it was because it’s a very easy lyric to pass by in the song but it felt as though there was more than just singing and dancing. When I’ve read analyses in the past that line is often overlooked or interpreted in a way that I didn’t feel was right for me. I ended up coming to the same conclusion as you – that corporations hear the noise youth make but disregard it because there’s not enough action, and so they don’t think that anything will come of it – thus, it’s important to be a dancer as well as a singer or else nothing will be changed.

    It’s just one lyric and probably wasn’t meant to have a lot of deep thought into its intention but that one lyric means the whole song to me. How is anything going to change if we just talk about standing up?

    Again, great work on this analysis! I hope you analyse Bulletproof Heart; there’s a lot of lyrics that are easy to just sing but not understand 🙂

  3. flor garcia says:

    wow. these interpretations are great. im signing this song for sign language but i had to know what the song means in order for me to translate it into sign language. so thank you so much i dont know what i wouldve done without you. i believe you skipped a few lines though like “sell it till your last days” and i dont want to answer”

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