I am one who doesn’t adhere to the definition of a “guilty pleasure.” Perhaps it’s because I have no shame, or don’t feel a need to excuse what I enjoy; Panic! At The Disco is a band you will definitely hear those two words at an alarming rate. The flair for theatrics has always been a selling point, drawing people into their unique style. Sure, they got swept up in the pseudo “emo” craze of the mid 00s, anointed by the clueless media. This is naturally where backlash came from—with cabaret get-up thought of as aesthetically displeasing, without realizing the homage it payed to their Las Vegas upbringing.
In fact, “misunderstood” is an understatement when it comes to the history of their catalog. When you’re predominately a pop band, that’s not only pushing buttons and boundaries in a stagnant scene, but also flipping the contemporary outlines of rock, feathers are going to be ruffled. A most notable example of this is earlier stage shows that featured a two act intermission, carnivalesque choreographed dancers, and larger than life prop pieces. A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out was a landmark 2006 debut that capsulized and divided audiences, though served as a nostalgic soundtrack that really broke the mold in many respects.
The blurred demographic targeted was very much filled with teenage anthems, albeit they held an undeniable addicting wit meant for an older appeal. So when the wave of success had subsided it was make or break time for the usually dreaded sophomore follow-up. The pressure cooker was at such a boiling point that they nearly faltered after shelving a whole album to rewrite 2008′s Pretty.Odd. If things weren’t already hard in the limelight, it got a confused reception by fans and naysayers due to an acid trip The Beatles worship. Though it was a passable experiment, the departure might’ve been just too far gone.
It would be a long while before the future of Panic! At The Disco was made focused again. Especially when the rift in reception caused key guitarist/songwriter Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker to continue the psychedelic direction elsewhere. The duo of singer Brendon Urie and drummer Spencer Smith went on to make a triumphant return to form with 2011′s Vices & Virtues. The conviction to stay afloat in the midst of a mighty blow stood as a testament to their drive. An impressive feat to walk away from in victory, for these once fresh-faced kids that were plucked out of High School and catapulted into a demanding grind.
Unfortunately, this is where the praise stops and the current matter at hand is analyzed in regards to their new single. To the unfamiliar, Chicago based pop-punk band Fall Out Boy, who helped sign Panic! At The Disco, shared a likewise musical arch in mainstream adoration and woes. Since an alumni of Fueled By Ramen Records, each have been lumped into comparison by shallow eyes and ears grasping at straws. As the best of friends, they seemed to possess an affinity for traveling within somewhat complementary circles. But the underlying themes throughout their careers were painstakingly opposite in their execution.
I place a heavy emphasis on “were” because that is no longer the case with the reveal of the band’s new single and video for “Miss Jackson.” To get this quickly out of the way, I for one am not terribly fond of Fall Out Boy’s comeback album from a four year hiatus. To avoid going into a rant over all that I found annoying about Save Rock and Roll, you can read my problems with it here if you see fit. However, if you do decide to give it a peak then my glaring issues with Panic! At The Disco’s apparent attempts to follow it will become abundantly more clear. As it does highlight a carbon copy depiction of this addressed pitfall.
Though I am worried, as anyone can be by an initial introduction to a swift alteration in presentation, I will rationally hold off total bias until the entirety of Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! arrives. This of course won’t keep me from delving into what I can pick apart at this given moment. It’s obviously a doozy to elicit this type of passionate response after both hearing the single and viewing the video. My harshly filtered criticism stems from witnessing a band, who I’ve always held as a step beyond the norm, crawl into a crevice of mediocrity and, dare I say, plagiarism. To support my claims just peep the videos below.
I’m not sure what the head honchos over at the label have been smoking as of late but they must take their followers for fools. First off, the showcased tunes are so identical in composition it’s incredibly off-putting. Panic! At The Disco’s single is as lethargically hollow, structurally mundane, and bombastically deceptive as Fall Out Boy’s. The repetitive “Whoas” are akin to how they were implicated on “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)” to the point of bewilderment. It also has the signature count and build-up that just drags on over programmed drums with lack of any authentic instrumentation.
In one fell swoop I’ve gone from referring to the band as an unstoppable machine to a rusted scrap of armor. I’m not surprised to discover each offering is produced under the helm of Butch Walker. As if it couldn’t get any worse, the video lifts a great deal of ideas from Fall Out Boy’s treatment. For instance, they happen to be shot with a grisly vibe—and it doesn’t help that there’s absolutely no distinction between the cinematography aspects. It’s true they’re slightly twisted but still retain situational components of “visual artistry” like smoke, torture, fire, and the severing of a body part in a desolate time-line account.
Maybe I’m playing devils advocate to the aforementioned grasping at straws. But the exclamation point illuminated by light bulbs in the desert is also a dead ringer for a K set-up used by local natives The Killers. It’s even more funny considering they feuded back in the day. Speaking of, “Miss Jackson” is already a popular old hit from hip-hop group Outkast. Nevertheless, in light of all my bickering, hopefully the end result is vastly different when Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! rolls around on October 8th. Until then it’s merely wishful thinking towards the idea Panic! At The Disco can pull this out of the bag.