With this album, Panic! At the Disco shows that what happens in Vegas, doesn’t always stay in Vegas.
Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die is the fourth Panic! At the Disco studio album, released in October 2013 with Decaydance (Fall Out Boy) and Fueled By Ramen (All Time Low, Twenty One Pilots). The album looks back on the band’s Vegas roots through a more mature yet still critical perspective than that of past albums. Too Weird to Live is a concept album of sorts that tells Urie’s story of growing up to eventually leave the Vegas lifestyle behind, of finding true love in a city “famous for being in love with you for only one night” (Sputnik). The album’s title comes from Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas.”
This album marks the next step in Panic!’s ongoing musical evolution. Too Weird to Live is the poppiest of Panic!’s albums, using synthesizers more often than guitars and other real instruments. This album does the impossible: Panic! somehow made pop music feel emo. I think that’s what makes Too Weird to Live a personal favorite of mine–I even own the physical copy, because I still enjoy having physical copies of albums.
This song is one of Panic!’s biggest singles and a favorite among fans. But there’s a tough story behind the song. “This Is Gospel” is about then-drummer Spencer Smith’s struggles with alcoholism and pill addiction, written out of Urie’s frustration of not being able to help a close friend. The chorus goes back and forth between Urie and Smith’s points of view, as “Spencer’s struggle was physically killing him and it was figuratively killing me [Urie]” (genius.com). Panic! released a piano version of “This Is Gospel,” which is absolutely gorgeous and better conveys the emotion behind this song. On a lighter note, the band got smart on their fans, using the music video for “Emperor’s New Clothes” (Death of a Bachelor) to pick up where the “This Is Gospel” video leaves off.
“Miss Jackson” was released in July 2013 as the album’s first single, along with the album announcement. The chorus and song title are a nod to Janet Jackson’s hit single “Nasty,” and even caught Ms. Jackson’s personal attention on Twitter soon after the single’s release. The song was initially based on a Fiona Apple sample and titled “Bad Apple;” but the song had to be rewritten since they didn’t get the publishing rights (Revolt News). In the song, Urie tells the story of Miss Jackson, a woman who only lives for one night stands without any consideration for the “victims”–i.e., the people she leaves behind by sneaking out before they awake. Urie told MTV that this song is him reflecting on his younger self, when he was Miss Jackson.
3. Vegas Lights
Like with “Nearly Witches” (Vices & Virtues), one hears a group of children’s voices singing in the opening. The voices are part of a sample of “Baker Number,” a song from 1970s “Sesame Street.” The use of material from a children’s show, along with the song title, seem to symbolize Urie’s childhood in Vegas. Urie sings about trying to “escape the villains in his life”(Sputnik), as well as the pros and cons of Vegas, the City of Sin. The song is funky and danceable, like “something dragged right out of the ’80s” (Gigwise). It’s a song one might hear during a arriving-in-Vegas movie scene.
4. Girl That You Love
Fun fact: Urie initially intended for this song to be sung in French (Artist Direct). The song is about troubled love, as the singer cannot make up his mind on whether or not he likes or loathes this girl. While this is not unusual content for Panic!, the way this song is done is lackluster compared to the other tracks on the album. It’s boring with oversimplified lyrics for Panic!, paired with relatively monotone music to form an ultimately forgettable track.
“Nicotine” has some beautiful lyrics and well-used smoking metaphors to describe an unhealthy relationship. These metaphors are paired with a pumping beat that makes you want to get up and dance. “Nicotine” is one of the few tracks on the album that uses guitars in addition to synthesizers, which works so well because it adds a certain edge to the song. Urie told Rock Sound that this song is based on song co-writer Amir’s personal experience. At the time, Amir was dealing with a girl who was bad for him, and Urie was working to quit smoking. Thus, the smoking metaphor was born.
“Girls/Girls/Boys” focuses on how “love is not a choice“–the acceptance of LGBTQ, particularly bisexuality. It is also about threesomes, as the song is based on Urie’s first threesome at ages 16. “Girls/Girls/Boys” is another ’80s-esque track, with “a John Taylor-like bass line and some throwback synths” (Newsday). I like how the music video is simplistic, shot in homage to D’angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” (plus it’s hilarious how he keeps looking down like he’s looking at papers with the lyrics, but is pretending he’s doing it to look sexy). Panic! released two versions of the music video: the original, and a director’s cut.
7. Casual Affair
While the song is musically “dramatic and slightly creepy,” this song is pretty forgettable and boring (Gigwise). To me, this song felt like a slowed down version of “Girl That You Love,” which is not totally a compliment since that track is ultimately forgettable. However, I did enjoy Urie’s high notes and the whispered “I did it…I did it again” part, which added a certain secretiveness to the track. The line “A lover on the left/A sinner on the right” happened to catch my eye. This can have two meanings: it either refers to an affair, or the cliche of the devil and angel on one’s shoulders, each urging one to do something.
“Far Too Young to Die” is one of the more underrated tracks on this album. While the track is a bit chorus-heavy, with only two verses among the repeated chorus, that somehow does not detract from the song’s quality. This song was a collaborative effort between him and bassist Dallon Weekes, the latter of which came up with the song’s base (Rock Sound). “Far Too Young to Die” talks about the beginning of a relationship, and how the mix of love and lust can make it confusing to determine if the relationship is meant to become something more.
9. Collar Full
When I first heard this song, I was not a huge fan at first; it took a few more listens to start enjoying it. “Collar Full” describes Urie’s feelings for someone that he’s loved for some time now. Urie is begging this girl to “show me your love“–to tell him how she feels. One line I particularly like, “I’ve got a collar full of chemistry from your company,” contains some great lyrical alliteration of “c.” Urie told Rock Sound that he likes to compare this track to a-ha’s “Take On Me.”
10. The End of All Things
“The End of All Things” is such a beautifully sad song that nearly breaks my heart every time I hear it. It has super simple lyrics and is pretty short, with only the piano for instrumentation. And to wrench your heart even further, Urie wrote this song as his wedding vows to his wife Sarah. Urie says that “this was the quickest I’ve written a song” (Rock Sound). To hear Urie gush more about the song, click here (go to 6:05).
Like what you read? Give this blog a follow! (Button is at the bottom of the page). And be sure to click here for links to my social media, which you can follow for regular updates on future blogs! If you’re a band looking for a promotion opportunity, feel free to email me for consideration for a future post!