Helena (song)

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Single by My Chemical Romance
from the album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge
Released May 23, 2005 (2005-05-23)
(see release history)
Format 7" vinyl, CD, Digital download, DVD
Recorded 2004
Genre Emo[1]
Length 3:22
Label Reprise, WMG
Writer(s) My Chemical Romance
Producer(s) My Chemical Romance, Howard Benson
My Chemical Romance singles chronology
"Thank You for the Venom"
"Under Pressure"
Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge track listing

"Helena" (sometimes titled "Helena (So Long & Goodnight)" on digital retailers such as iTunes) is a song by the American rock band My Chemical Romance, and is the third single from their second studio album, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. The lyrics describe lead singer Gerard Way and bassist Mikey Way's feelings for their late grandmother, Elena Lee Rush (whom her friends referred to as "Helen", and because of this, Gerard always thought to combine her first name with this alias, forming the name, "Helena").


The single has become a moderately-selling hit, both in the US and internationally. Way stated in an interview with Channel V that the main influence behind "Helena" was from the song "Aces High" by Iron Maiden and tracks by The Ventures. This song is also My Chemical Romance's sixth overall single. Way described it as representing the band's image and sound, and as such it was often used to end the band's shows. The single was certified as a Gold Record in United States. Despite charting lower than their prior hit, "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" on the "Billboard" Modern Rock Tracks chart peaking at number 4 where "Helena" peaked at number 11, "Helena" was the band's first crossover hit crossing over to Top 40 radio at number 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and it also still had more airplay on alternative rock stations.

NME declared that the song was one of the "20 Greatest Goth Tracks" and that it was "a pivotal moment in cross-fertilising goth with emo" and that "MCR spawned a hybrid that ensured black clothes and eyeliner became, once again, teenage rebellion's default setting".[2]

In the media[edit]

The song was also used in the closing credits of the 2005 remake of horror film House of Wax. "Helena" is also available as downloadable content for the video games Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, Rock Band 3, Rock Band Blitz and Tap Tap Revenge.

Music video[edit]

The music video was shot on-location in the Immanuel Presbyterian church on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, California, directed by Marc Webb, and choreographed by Michael Rooney. The video has a simple plot, with Gerard Way as a very emotional mourner at a funeral where the band is performing. There are also mourners who dance and mourn the death of Helena. Near the end, the dead body of Helena (played by actress and dancer Tracy Phillips) rises and dances down the nave representing crossing over into the afterlife. After she falls back into the casket, the pallbearers (also played by My Chemical Romance and a fan named Cameron) carry the casket to the hearse (in the pouring rain), surrounded by a phalanx of dancing men and women with umbrellas.

Though the song in general is about the band members Gerard Way and Mikey Way's late grandmother, it was stated in an interview[which?] that the video told a different story. The music video shows the funeral of a girl, who, according to Gerard Way, died tragically. The sixth pallbearer and the majority of the mourners are fans who'd received emails from the band asking if they'd like to be in the video.

During the "Making Of..." video, found as a bonus on the Life on the Murder Scene CD/DVD, it was noted that Frank Iero, while joking about being "4'9"", didn't actually carry any weight of the casket, and that it rested on the other band members and their 6th pallbearer to carry the weight. Also noted was that the rain used in the sequence between the church and the hearse wasn't planned for, but the director used it to his advantage, as it set the mood of a funeral.

The video was nominated for five Moonmen at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards: Best Rock Video, Best Choreography, Best New Artist, and the MTV2 and Viewer's Choice Awards (both of which are chosen by viewers). They lost to bands such as Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and The Killers. Though the band did not win any awards, they did do a surprise performance of the song towards the end of the show. They also won an MTV Video Music Awards Latin America "tongue" for the Best New Artist - International. They also won a Best Video award in the 2005 Kerrang! Awards. In November 2005, the video was nominated for two MTVU Woodie Awards (voted on by college students) and won the Woodie of the Year. In the Philippines, Helena has reached a cult-like status because of the popularity of Alternative music.

The video was also voted #1 by viewers of MTV Latinamerica in the 2005 "100 Most Wanted Videos".

The video was uploaded to YouTube on October 26, 2006 and currently has 33,243,121 views as of March 27, 2016.[3]

Track listing[edit]

UK promotional CD
No. Title Length
1. "Helena"   3:22
UK CD and 7" vinyl
No. Title Length
1. "Helena"   3:22
2. "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" (live) 3:37
No. Title Length
1. "Helena" (Live Video)  
2. "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" (Video)  
Australian CD
No. Title Length
1. "Helena"   3:22
2. "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" (live from Sessions@AOL) 3:37
3. "You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us In Prison" (live from Sessions@AOL) 3:40
iTunes single
No. Title Length
1. "Helena" (live from the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey) 4:14


Chart (2005) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[4] 78
Europe (European Hot 100 Singles)[5] 61
Germany (Official German Charts)[6] 67
Ireland (IRMA) 46
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[7] 27
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 20
UK Rock (The Official Charts Company) 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 33
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 11
U.S. Billboard Mainstream Top 40 32
U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Songs 13
U.S. Billboard Pop 100 32

Chart successions[edit]

Preceded by
"Somewhere Else" by Razorlight
UK Rock Chart number-one single
May 29, 2005 - June 19, 2005
Succeeded by
"Wake Me Up When September Ends" by Green Day

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalogue
United Kingdom 2005 Reprise, Eyeball CD PRO15371
May 23, 2005 7" vinyl W671, 5439160437
CD W671CD, 5439160432
DVD W671DVD, 7599386352
Australia August 22, 2005 CD 9362428022