I really don’t know where to start with this band. It is very rare that I can turn on Spotify and leave it on for hours at the time, listening to a single artist, Panic at the Disco is an exception. I would describe Brendon Urie as a mix of Frank Sinatra and Jack White with a dash of Prince’s edginess. His work exudes creativity and passion from the variety of their repertoire, the cleverness of the lyrics, to the elaborate storyline of their videos. The music has hints of retro- rock, electronic dance, piano, classical ballads, latin jazz, punk, religious praise and everything in between. The band draws their inspiration from 50’s rock, The Beach Boys, Danny Elfma, John Brion and other modern artists. Their life experiences and values are imprinted on their lyrics. They are an open invitation to share their life journey from high school to marriage and beyond. Come joint this wild ride! Expect a lot of sex, alcohol and drugs… Ehem, it is Vegas! You will also see a very vulnerable sweet side to their songs that makes them so sexy.
Everything about this band comes across as a labor of love and a true work of art.
Here are my top picks. Enjoy!
Don’t Threaten me With a Good Time
” Champagne, cocaine, gasoline, and most things in between…I told you time and time again, I am not as think as you drunk I am”.
Do I need to say more? This song describes the thrill of being young and partying in Las Vegas! Waking up in underwear among strange people, riding shopping carts and wearing high heels to honor a bet (how scholarly of him). The situations described are utterly funny and somewhat romanticize living a life without limits. Although, I think there is a hidden message about the dangers of becoming someone he could not recognize. He did not seem thrilled about being a pan-gender octopus from outer space, but decided to go with it anyway. Brandon did come out as pansexual in 2018 (5 years into his marriage to Sarah Orzechowski). I think this song was a foreshadow of his coming of age. The song also features the base of an oldie, ‘Rock Lobster‘. I wonder if he paid for the rights to use it… Another interpretation is the feeling that guys get after a one night stand. She looked fine before they got to her place but now upon a closer look, she kind of looks like an octopus 😀 Should he stay the night or should he run before her monstrous neediness is unleashed?
What do you think is the hidden message of this song?
Emperor’s New Clothes
I think the video was inspired by Dionysus, the ancient Greek God of wine, wine-making, grape cultivation, fertility, ritual madness, theater, and religious ecstasy. His Roman name was Bacchus. The visuals are very cleverly intertwined with the lyrics to depict a return to complete insanity after a period of relative stability and control. Implying that sanity=death and old habits are hard to kill. His sentence is over, no more pleasing, he is unleashed and uncensored. Enjoy the ride!
“Sycophants on velvet sofas
Lavish mansions, vintage wine
I am so much more than royal
Snatch your chain and mace your eyes
If it feels good, tastes good
It must be mine
Heroes always get remembered
But you know legends never die”
Death of a Bachelor
This is a beautiful ballad where Brandon showcases his vocal abilities. He sounds like a modern Frank Sinatra. Given the high pace and energy of their previous work, this song comes as a true surprise. The setting of this video reminds me of Casa Blanca. The lyrics leave a lot open to the imagination, considering that he wrote this song about 3 years into his marriage. The timing of this song coincides with the song above, where he comfortably shows himself as pansexual in “Don’t threaten me with a good time.” Did he regret getting married? Is he struggling with loneliness and staying faithful? Brandon was raised in a very conservative Christian household. Perhaps the dichotomy between his home values and the inherently seediness of Las Vegas, rage an internal battle, which in turn, fuels his creativity. It is hard to tell if that is how he really feels, but it definitely does not sound like a ‘happy ever after.’ None the less, it is a great song.
“I’m cutting my mind off
Feels like my heart is going to burst
Alone at a table for two and I just wanna be served
And when you think of me am I the best you’ve ever had?
Share one more drink with me, smile even though you’re sad
I’m walking the long road, watching the sky fall
The lace in your dress tingles my neck, how do I live?”
There is a flare of 50’s Latin Jazz in this song (It makes me think of ‘Hey Pachuco– soundtrack from ‘The Mask’). The video features scenes from “Fight Club” (also reviewed on this blog). The lyrics employ a mix of references to communicate an array of metaphors. For instance, Urie sings “She said you’re just like Mike Love / But you’ll never be Dennis Wilson.” This is likely a reference to Brian being the “crazy genius” behind the Beach Boys’ success, as he suffers from schizoaffective disorder and was the brain behind the band’s greatest achievements. Urie also seems at odds with a partner who is in love with her own version of him. She created a fantastic character who seems to disappear in the morning, as soon as lust has worn off, but the cycle repeats again and again. They topped this off with the video showing clips from the movie that reference the push pull interactions between Marla and Cornelius, who may suffer from a schizoaffective disorder as well but has somehow managed to reset the world’s financial system while also battling depression. I would say that the lyrics/video combination honors the title of this song. Simply genius!
Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off
This song is from their first album “A Fever You Can’t Sweat.” This song touches upon dating and betrayal. Everyone in the video is carrying a fish tank with live fish in their heads. They try to connect but they are trapped in their little square bubbles. The fish represent the experience that they gain from each lover. The girl who picks up a dying fish, symbolizes lessons learned from each heart break. Curiously, when she finds that her former lover has ‘died of love’ she faints, breaking her own bubble. It is only when both their bubbles are burst and they have nothing left to lose, that they finally connect and “Get those hearts beating faster, faster.” Awesome metaphors!
This song feels like drinking success from a fire hose. The tone is that of someone who sounds overwhelmed yet curiously self aware. How could this be? Simple, because he is not talking about his 20’s. Brandon is describing his time performing in Broadway as Charlie Price in Kinky Boots (2017). He enjoyed it, but he was very much home sick. It is cool that he used undertones of music form the 1920’s and makes it resemble a soundtrack from a Broadway musical. Again, an immense talent to be appreciated.
“Broadway is black like a sinkhole
Everyone raced to the suburbs
And I’m on the rooftop with curious strangers
This is the oddest of summers
Maybe I’ll medicate, maybe inebriate
Strange situations, I get anxious
Maybe I’ll smile a bit, maybe the opposite
But pray that they don’t call me thankless
My tell-tale heart’s a hammer in my chest
Cut me a silk-tied tourniquet”
Other songs worth mentioning: (I did say I could listen to them for hours)
- (Fuck a) Silver lining
- Miss Jackson
- But It’s better if you do
- LA Devotee
- Nine in the afternoon
- The Ballad of Mona Lisa
- High Hopes
- Hey look ma, I made it
- Casual Affair
- Impossible Year
- New Perspective