What could be better than a Panic! at the Disco album? A Panic! at the Disco Broadway Musical. At least, that was the conclusion of our track-by-track discussion of Panic!’s latest release, Death of a Bachelor. We got some of idobi’s biggest Brendon Urie fans together to talk about our favorite aspects of the new album, from the big band swing influences to the crooner-type tracks to the pop culture allusions and everything in between.
“Now we go from “Hallelujah” straight to hell.”
Sam Devotta: It’s a great song; it’s so much fun and it has such a great vibe to it. It really sets the tone for the rest of the album, I think, and the new chapter of Panic!’s life.
Sherin Nicole: It’s such a pop song, right? But in it you also hear a lot of the influences that you’ve heard throughout Panic!’s discography, like Queen, especially in that first verse where he mentions “let me be your killer king” and he talks about guillotines—if you’ve ever listened to “Killer Queen” by Queen, then you’ll recognise some of the lyrical content. And that’s not to mention him starting off with Macbeth, which is very interesting. Brendon is telling us we’re about to get a rock opera musical, and he’s setting us up to be on the stage.
Sam: There’s one part in it that reminds me of “Nearly Witches”, so it sort of brings Vices & Virtues back into it too.
Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time
Sherin: If “Victorious” is the night before, then “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” is the morning after. Because you hear some Beach Boys influences in the introduction, and I can envision Brendon waking up drunk on the beach.
Alex Bear: I think it’s also a thematic throwback to his debut album, how he had “a cane and a party hat” on. Then the line about “drunk pre-meds and some rubber gloves” could be a reference back to “This Is Gospel” as well.
Emillie Marvel: The whole album has a lot of strong visuals and you can really see yourself in the scene. Like, I’ve never been to a party for a minute of my life, but this song kinda makes me wanna go spend a night being a rockstar, insane-style.
Sherin: There’s a couple things that I really like about this track—one is that the lead in reminds you of a horn section intro from Motown, and then it goes into this kind of hip hop influence, and then all of a sudden it’s gospel. Which is real cool. And then with the chorus, there’s this sense it’s a preamble to what’s coming next.
Sam: This is actually one of the songs that I’m most excited to hear live because I think having so many people sing the chorus back would be amazing.
Emillie: I think this song is the gospel of the Panic! At The Disco church. It’s gonna be a fan-favorite for sure and live, like Sam said, it’s gonna be a spectacle.
Emperor’s New Clothes
Sherin: Now we go from “Hallelujah” straight to hell.
Emillie: I hate the video for this one. The whole devil outfit terrifies me. The prosthetics—when he transforms into the devil creature, I hate it.
Sam: Really? I love this video, I thought it was so well done.
Sherin: Not only is he turning into a demon but he’s also turning to stone and you can see it. So I really dig it. I feel like there couldn’t be any other video for that song because it sounds demonic, it sounds like a descent into hell.
Alex: It definitely sounds like he’s losing his mind.
Sam: I also really like the “taking back the crown” line, which is probably the standout lyric of the song. He’s owning it—he knows he’s crazy but he’s just gonna go with it because it makes him happy.
Sherin: Yeah, “I’m all dressed up and naked” too. I like that cadence—it’s so driving and it pounds right on through, and I do agree with both Sam and Alex about this descent into madness, but in the madness there’s this total sense of freedom as well.
Alex: It’s very much that he doesn’t care any more about what anybody thinks. He’s just going to let the madness rule.
Sherin: And in the context of the story that he’s telling, you can see there’s the party, the hangover the next morning, and realizing that okay, maybe this isn’t the life I wanna live, and then all of a sudden you get the “hallelujah” moment, but then he’s kinda like, “fuck it” and just completely goes wild in order to completely be himself.
“He’s someone who doesn’t do things by accident.”
Death of a Bachelor
Sam: It follows the “Emperor’s New Clothes” theme, where he’s both accepting himself and his flaws, but also saying “oh, if I want to accomplish certain things, then yes, things will have to change.”
Sherin: I find it interesting that he goes into full crooner mode, like, The Rat Pack with this particular song. And I wonder if that has something to do thematically with the era of “family values”. It definitely is at a point in the album where we slow it down and get a lot more reflective. And I like it when he says, “a lifetime of laughter at the expense of a death of a bachelor”.
Alex: It’s almost saying that he has to give up his old ways, but in order to do that he gets a lifetime of happiness, which is better.
Sherin: The song is so freakin’ swing that for some reason it took me back to The Jungle Book. I could see Baloo and King Louie rockin’ out to this.
Sam: I had the exact same reaction. The Jungle Book is my all time favorite Disney movie, so when I first heard it all I could think of was King Louie. But I love it! It’s my favorite song off the album. It’s so crazy—it fits in but it’s also so out there, and it’s bringing in all his elements but it’s jazzier.
Alex: I really love all the pop culture references—I’m a big fan of the Beach Boys and the line, “You’re just like Mike Love but you wanna be Brian Wilson” really jumped out at me.
Sherin: Also when he sings “Just like Mike (Love)”, there was a Gatorade campaign called “Be Like Mike”. So he’s mashing up a Michael Jordan reference with a Beach Boys reference which is really crazy. He’s saying you want to be like the greatest but you’ll never be the one. Such a vicious double slice. That’s what I like about Brendon, he knows music and culture—when “Girls Girls Boys” came out I sat there watching the video and I suddenly realized, “oh my god, this is a frame by frame remake of the D’Angelo video, ‘How Does It Feel’.” Holy crap, I’m more in love with Brendon Urie than I ever was before. So it kinda goes back to the culture references—he, and Pete Wentz, are so deep into their pop culture, their literature, their film, their TV, and their music, and you just keep hearing it all the time. This and American Beauty/American Psycho are so much deeper than critics are giving them credit for. There’s so much happening beneath the layers, and I have a lot of respect for that.
Emillie: It’s a real summer track. It definitely brings to mind sunny days. It’s so poppy and fun, and I think it’ll be a good track to highlight their upcoming tour with Weezer.
Alex: I got something completely different from it. Reading into the lyrics, he makes a reference to Mulholland Drive, which is a David Lynch film, so to me it reads like quite a dark noir mystery.
Sherin: It’s also a street in LA. The Black Dahlia Murders took place there too. So there could be a dual or even triple meaning in there, like in so many of Panic!’s songs.
Sam: The beginning sounds like “Let’s Kill Tonight”, and someone asked him, “did you do that on purpose?” and he said, “no, it’s just a coincidence”. But I feel like he’s someone who doesn’t do things by accident.
Sherin: I rock out to “LA Devotee” because it is so 80s; I hear Pat Benatar going crazy on that song, and “Let’s Kill Tonight” is also such an 80s song. So it may not be that he was referencing his earlier work so much as exploring another facet of his love for the 80s.
“Glitter cocaine” is what his genre of music should be called.
Sherin: We’ve now reached the “anthem” section of the album, with that slow build in “Golden Days”.
Sam: I wasn’t sure how I felt about this song at first, but I think that chorus is probably the most rock n’ roll that we’ve heard so far.
Alex: I think it’s another throwback to the “good old days” again; it sounds really old school.
Emillie: I don’t think it compares to the rest of the album.
The Good, The Bad, and The Dirty
Emillie: When Alex and I first heard this song we decided it reminded us of a burlesque event in the desert—like glittery, over the top, dramatic show-type production. I think it started off with the description “glitter cocaine”.
Alex: We agreed “glitter cocaine” is what his genre of music should be called.
Sam: I love that visual, that’s amazing. But for me, it’s the line, “if you wanna start a fight you’d better throw the first punch…” He’s saying: I’m doing things my way, if you have a problem with it you have to bring it to my attention, I’m not going to bring it to you.
Sherin: Do you know what this makes me want really badly? A FOB/Panic! tour where Brendon and Patrick sing this together. It sounds like a Fall Out Boy song. Am I crazy or am I genius?
Emillie: I’d love to hear Patrick singing that song and making the lyrics completely indecipherable.
“…in the madness there’s this total sense of freedom as well.”
House of Memories
Emillie: I’m obsessed with the “shake it ’til you see it” line, it really makes the song.
Sherin:“Shake it like a Polaroid picture!” I think that’s what’s so smart about his writing; he’s talking about a house of memories, and then he uses these examples that are so specifically out of the past, therefore the visual you’re getting resonates with the song’s theme. Also, it feels like a classic Panic! song but slowed down.
Emillie: It’s definitely calls back to AFYCSO and older albums, it’s got that weirder touch to it. I think him having full control of this album is the best thing that could have happened to Panic! At The Disco.
Sam: When the bass kicks in near the chorus, I don’t pay much attention to anything else. It’s a fun song.
Sherin: We were in Rat Pack territory before, but now it’s nothing but Sinatra on that stage.
Alex: When I played Emillie this song my description was, “it sounds like if Frank Sinatra was asked to write a James Bond theme tune back in the 1950s”. It’s almost like he’s been writing all of these pop culture references, and now he’s becoming them.
Sherin: It follows so deeply in line with the theme of the rise and fall, then the death of a bachelor along with the journey into darkness. At the end, the character leaves you with that last glimpse of who they’re about to become.
Emillie: I’m really glad Brendon Urie was able to make the album he wanted to. I think it’s made it one of Panic’s best ever, and I’m looking forward to seeing where he goes from here.
Alex: This was the album Brendon was born to make. It’s so completely him; it’s outrageous and over the top but you wouldn’t expect anything less from him.
Sam: I think this is a culmination of everything we’ve heard from Panic! before, but he’s still managing to bring something new to the table so it’s still setting him up for hopefully so many more albums, where he’s experimenting and doing what makes him happy musically.