"It speaks to regular people, and that's why it's so great": Watch the worlds of emo and Britpop collide as My Chemical Romance cover Pulp's Common People

My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way
(Image credit: BBC Radio 1)

BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge segment, in which artists are invited to record a song by another musical act, has thrown up some unexpected and left-field delights since its inception: who would have expected to hear Alesha Dixon covering Biffy Clyro's God And Satan, or Biffy Clyro covering Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's WAP, or Queens Of The Stone Age covering Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines, to name but three inspired choices.

When New Jersey emo kings My Chemical Romance were invited to make their second Live Lounge appearance on March 31, 2011, Gerard Way's band chose to salute one of Britain's true national treasures, Pulp, by recording their take on the Sheffield band's 1995 single Common People. Those familiar with MCR would have been fully aware of the quintet's love for Britpop - a fact telegraphed by their decision to cover Blur's Song 2 for their first Live Lounge performance - but those less versed in My Chemical Romance's history may have wondered how exactly Jarvis Cocker's scathing portrait of poverty tourism struck a chord with a bunch of American punk and metal kids once dismissed by lumpen indie-rockers Kasabian as "weird and dark."

Speaking to Radio 1 during after his band's second visit to the Live Lounge, Gerard Way filled in the blanks.

said: “This is a song that, growing up in New Jersey, it was very important to me and Mikey [Way, My Chemical Romance bassist]. It was very relevant to us, feeling like you were in a place you could never get out of, that you were never going to escape.”

He added: “I remember pushing carts at a supermarket listening to this song on headphones on a cassette player and wondering whether the hell I was ever going to get out of New Jersey.”

"It speaks to regular people and that’s why it’s so great. And they’re an amazing band.”

Way later told Vulture, "To me, Pulp really solidified what Britpop was. That was the band. When I think of Britpop, I think of Pulp. I followed them through Different Class and then discovered their back catalogue. And then This Is Hardcore came out; that’s my favorite Pulp album."

Watch MCR record the segment below.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.