Panic! At The Disco Freak! The Fuck Out
We've come to fuck your virgin daughters with our big orange ball.
Proof that the 80s are back: the girlier your rock star of choice is, the more girls want to fuck him, even if the shitrags in Hinder refuse to believe it. And true to their sopping-wet emo scene, Panic! At The Disco are gay, gay, gay, which is one reason lots of rock-dude types hate them, except they also want your pity and empathy, fellow fucked-over males, with completely sexist lyrics and song titles, which is one reason nerd-critic types hate them. The only people who don't seem to hate them, actually, are just under two million Hot Topic-wearing teenage girls.
I skimmed through 2005's runaway hit A Fever You Can't Sweat Out because I wanted to hear what Fall Out Boy would sound like with synthesizers, and like anyone else with ears, declared it a brick and moved on. Why was there any reason to take this immensely hateable band seriously? They were on MTV, so what. They were still in high school, positioned to get loads of pussy, and had a record deal with three songs and no shows under their belt. Their album's big difference from Taking Back Sunday/Thursday types is that they used. . . (drumroll). . . keyboards. And horns. And lots of instruments that no blown minds under 18 had ever heard on a rock album before. They had a truly girly beef with the most hated man in rock, Brandon Flowers--a far cry from Fred Durst, the most hated man in rock from only a few years prior--for some lame-ass shit like Vegas not being big enough for all of their egos. And most loathsome of all, their two biggest hits featured the lyric "the bridesmaid is a whore" and the title "Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off," and they seemed to think they could get away with bald-faced misogyny just because they're smart enough to squeeze Mature Phrases like "harlequin," "I chime in," and most ridiculously, "a sense of poise and rationality" into TRL singalongs. So fuck them.
Only then. "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" stopped being one of those "Ridin'" or "Float On" sized hits and actually eclipsed their mentors' "Sugar, We're Going Down" itself by winning the Video Music Award for, not Best New Artist, but, Video of the Year. And as they now round double platinum, they're gonna be on the cover of the next issue of Rolling Stone. Incubus and Nickelback are huge alternative radio bands with streams of big hits and they've never been asked to do a Rolling Stone cover. So are P!ATD populist? Apparently, I can't let this band die with dignity as one- two- or three-hit wonders. My girlfriend wouldn't let me. Yes, I was softened up by some *glare* unwanted plays, but I started caring about Panic! At The Disco after hearing the remix of "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage" from the Snakes On A Plane soundtrack (and to a lesser extent, the Teddybears remix of "Black Mamba" made me give a shit about The Academy Is). Under the renewed glow of VHS Or Beta glint-synths and Faintesque dancefloor thwomps, I now admit the song's melody is tighter than an Olsen twin's labia. And, while twisty, the band has hooks that register more memorably than Incubus' or Nickelback's, a boon to rock radio. "Testosterone boys and harlequin girls" is a knotty way to begin a chorus, but Brendan Urie's gift for flamboyant, melodic swoops and dips sure wears better than Fall Out Boy's Jimmy Eat World-style barrel-through sameyness over the course of an album. Which brings us back to Fever. OK, "Martyrdom" is in fact, a damn fine intro to the band and probably their shows, with little synth-breaks cutting up the hyperdrive (which actually starts acoustic!) and a believably singable "swear to shake it up!" finish. It's actually kind of cute how inductory it is ("Sit tight I'm gonna need you to keep time/come on just snap snap snap your fingers for me,") since the band obviously didn't expect to have fans at all, and their bratty need for attention almost rivals Art Brut when they promise "Swear to shake it up/If you swear to listen/And we're still sorry I'm desperate for attention/I aim to be your eyes." Also, this Urie guy has a strange obsession with weddings and the desire to expose the corruption of them or something? "When I say shotgun/You say wedding," is even less hiphop than it sounds on paper, and who knows what the point of "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" is, other than a very catchy song that just happens to be pretentious. Maybe I'm granting a little too much lyric time to give these adolescent fuckers, but I guess they deserve a hearing after I begrudgingly learned that "Lying Is The Most Fun" title comes from Closer (albeit a movie their younger fans probably haven't seen or wouldn't get). And with at least four Chuck Palahniuk quotes in their songs, I'm starting to realize that these guys are closer to their generation than I believed.
The reason for Panic! At The Disco's popularity doesn't have much to do with looks or taste in music, but the identifiability between them and what the more clever kids are doing toward the end of high school: reading Fight Club, thinking Natalie Portman's character in Garden State is deep, trying to wedge their way out of Avril Lavigne and New Found Glory marked cd collections. Kids who think they're starting to get smarter want to listen to music they think is growing with them; who are we tell them those long-ass convoluted song titles aren't clever? They're certainly more substantive than "Someday," a Nickelback, or "Anna-Molly," an awful pun from the great minds of Incubus. And I'm not saying kids are boneheads, though they do fuck themselves. The great teen music they like as a fluke, like good Britney or Backstreet singles, they're almost certain to disown for the next five years and maybe life. And the shitty stuff they like isn't always so disposable; I hope I don't see any Avenged Sevenfold fans by the time I'm 30, but metal has a lifer feel like that. But kids can't always be boneheads, because Panic! At The Disco is actually good. Try the accordion and "la-la-la"-hooked cabaret of "Build God, Then We'll Talk," or the flamenco-striken tempo changes of "I Constantly Thank God For Esteban" for something more interesting than Fall Out Boy's dull-ass next album. That said, I don't see how these guys can last. Not many groups with a circus-and-costumes stage show go on to a second decade unless they're Kiss, and their fans will likely outgrow them faster than they outgrow themselves even though Urie already says he's not that proud of their album and listens to Tom Waits. At very least, I trust that they'll grow out of the jaded girl-hatred like any other 20-year-old, though I'm not so sure about the showoff vocabulary or predilection for bad cover choices. "Karma Police" and "Eleanor Rigby" by these kids requires so much fuck-you balls that I'd like to officially un-name them emo on behalf of Brand New and Used fans everywhere. These guys have ambitions, which is healthier for privileged rich kids than anti-star sulking. Brand New and The Used don't have the vision.
Panic! At The Disco - A Fever You Can't Sweat Out: A-