I got this post card in the mail. It had no message, no return address. It was a mock-up of the Vegas sign, with the words “Are you nasty?” on it. I laughed and the ridiculousness of this anonymous post card. When I showed it to my wife, she decided to look up online to see if other people got a similar post card. Our research brought us to the new Panic at the Disco! single, Miss Jackson. From the very beginning of this video, I started to notice some similarities to another band, often compared to PATD, who just released a new album.
So, we start this new song with a scene of a flaming tire rolling through a motel in the middle of the night. That’s weird, I remember another video that starts with a dark scene involving fire as a main theme. The music kicks in, and there are some big things that stand out to me. The obvious change in their sound, influenced by modern pop and rap music, a hook that is largely based on a wordless vocal line, and the overt use of repetition in the chorus. It is all sounding very familiar. As the song continues, I notice that even the composition of this song is turning out a lot like another song. The use of a two-part repeating chorus, based partially on the pre-chorus, the breakdowns and use of vocal parts to bridge between the two parts, and the odd stops and starts all bring me back to another song. What song, you ask? This song:
Dark setting, fire imagery. Beat driven song with a wordless vocal hook. Forms that could fit right inside of each other. I practically expect Miss Jackson to break down into “Light it up up up” at every break. If you watch some of the other new Fall Out Boy videos, you see more similarities like the overtly dark imagery and singers wearing suit(ish) outfits. Now, even though these songs have very obvious similarities, I want to note a few things.
1. Panic at the Disco! has always had a dance background to their music, much more than Fall Out Boy. This style of dance music is different, but it makes more sense for them to go in this direction.
2. Panic at the Disco! is now a two piece band. This means that I can excuse some of the production involved, because they are only two guys. There is more room in their sound for this kind of production.
3. This song is more interesting that “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark”. Whether directly influenced or not, PATD are doing what FOB did, but better. The song flows better, the lyrics are more interesting (minus “are you nasty?” over and over…). The melodies are at least slightly more varied. It’s just a better song all over. The arrangement and choice of sounds is more varied and fun.
Even though it reminds me of FOB’s latest train wreck a lot, I still have hopes that the new Panic at the Disco! album “Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!” (I love all the connections to Hunter S. Thompson, in both the album title and the video) I really feel like they are better suited to handle this type of style change while still maintaining the things that make them interesting. This single is not too far off from the sound off their debut release, which I still love. It’s just more modern, which, if done right, is not always a bad thing. I really hope that PATD can pull it off, at least better than FOB did.