You & Panic! at the Disco: The Awkward Phases
Their new album, Death of a Bachelor, comes out January 15th. But just like you, Panic! at the Disco has changed a lot since 2005.
By Natalie Hays, Texas State University
It was about eleven years ago that preteens and teenagers across the country began jamming out to Panic! At the Disco’s first single “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.”
Not only did it usher in a whole new preteen counterculture composed of thick raccoon eyeliner and side-sweep bangs, it also jumpstarted Panic’s career as the middle school misfit’s new favorite band.
Just think about it. The year is 2005, you’re in middle school, and your palms are sweaty for some reason. You’re wearing that expensive black jacket from Hot Topic and you wish you could care less about absolutely everything. Then you hear it. The plucky sounds of a song you haven’t heard before on the radio. “Who is this?” you wonder, starstruck.
Then Brendon Urie’s velvety teenage voice hits you.It picks you up and takes you on a roller coaster of tween emotions.
“He’s right,” you think. “Why can’t people just shut the goddamn door? My mom leaves my bedroom door open all the time.”
Brendan speaks to your soul on a whole new level. As the song finishes, you wait for the DJ to tell you about this astounding new band, and that’s how your obsession begins with the four-man band from Las Vegas and their album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out.
But times change. People grow up, and bands evolve.
Now you’re in high school, and you’re way more mature than you used to be back in sixth grade. Now you might wear colors to be edgy or ironic.
Panic at the Disco felt the same way, so they got rid of their exclamation point. Maybe being so loud all the time wasn’t the best idea and they wanted to bring it down a notch.
And just like your freshman year, Panic at the Disco named their second Album Pretty. Odd., which wasn’t far off the mark. Their sound changed from edgy, dark emo rock to a euphoric, cute pop. Honestly, 2008 was a weird time for everyone.
But there’s still no explaining their “Nine in the Afternoon” video.
To be fair, it looks like a pass at some sort of Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club aesthetic. It misses the mark, though. Instead, it feels kind of like that embarrassing “LOL RANDOM!1!!1” phase everybody seemed to go through in high school. It’s not something you’re proud of, but you can’t deny that it happened.
Then the unthinkable happened: a predictable band split up. Ryan Ross and Brent Wilson left to make their band, the Young Veins, in 2009. Just like many of your broody preteen dreams, Panic at the Disco seemed like it was at an end.
All was quiet for several years until the cryptic release of “New Perspective,” a song on the Jennifer’s Body soundtrack.
The song was a dim ray of hope for Panic! at the Disco fans. Even better? The exclamation point was back!
It looked like it was now just Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith in the band, but that was better than nothing. Word of an album was still pretty quiet.
That is, until 2011 when they released Vices and Virtues.
It was like a Panic! at the Disco revival, with old sounds and new ones peppering the album. It even had that steampunk vibe that you experimented with during junior and senior year. Vices and Virtues marked a pivotal time for the band, because they were trying to redefine their sound.
Gone were the flowery songs of Pretty. Odd., which is fair because the whole animal mask thing was creepy. (Although admittedly so was the Victorian style clothing and fake brass everything.) Even the eyeliner was back, because who in the mid-to-late-Aughts couldn’t keep their eyes un-lined?
Honestly, though let’s move on from the heavy eyeliner.
It started to become clear that Panic! at the Disco would be back for quite a while. Their most recent album release in 2013 truly showcased how far the band had come. Too Weird to Live, Too Young to Die is reminiscent of everyone’s experimentation in college. No more thick eyeliner or all-black wardrobe, but instead an upgrade in sophistication and a downgrade/upgrade to stark nudity.
I’m not complaining though, merely remarking on their shift from one extreme to another. But hey, by this point it’s 2013 you’re in college. Everything is pretty new, and you’re discovering parts about yourself that you didn’t know existed, like your thirst for Brendon Urie in a suit, or a birthday suit. Just saying.
Yes, by then everybody seemed to have grown up a bit. Brendon Urie even got married!
(To be fair he is a good five-to-seven years older than anybody who started listening to Panic! in the mid 2000s.)
And even though jazz inspired music videos and ones that congratulate not texting an ex are pretty different from each other, Panic!’s still the band you looking for if you’re jonesing for Brendon’s counter-culture punk rock. Thankfully it is raccoon eye free, but we did get, uh, this.
I can’t decide if I like that better than the eyeliner.
Death of a Bachelor is out January 15.