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Analyzing Panic at the Disco's double platinum album A Fever You can't Sweat Out

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Panic! at the Disco’s album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is a timeless album that put a different twist on the Pop-Punk genre of music in the early 2000’s. Panic! at the Disco is a band from Las Vegas, Nevada. The members who started the band, Ryan Ross, Brent Wilson, Spenser Smith, and Brandon Urie, were all childhood friends, and they started recording their first demos together when they were only in high school. Shortly after high school, the band members came out with their first album in 2005 called, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is a musical masterpiece; every track is unique and different from the next. The album was certified double platinum in the United States, and was made well known by the hit song off of the album called, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.”

In 2008, Panic! at the Disco released their second album called, Pretty. Odd. Also that year, they released a live album called, …Live in Chicago, which features songs from the first two albums. At this point, the band dropped the exclamation point from the band name, most likely signifying the band maturing. In 2011, the band released the album, Vices and Virtues, and in 2013 released the album, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die. Current member in the band are Dallon Weekes, Brandon Urie, Kenneth Harris, and Dan Pawlovich. Past members were Brent Wilson, Ryan Ross, Jon Walker, and Spencer Smith.

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Panic! at the Disco had many influences that helped shape the unique sound they portray through their music. Rollingstone.com explained many of the band’s influences in an article entitled, “Panic at the Disco’s Secret Influences.” The band had many influences from the Beatles, to the iconic book, Alice in Wonderland. Other influences were the Beach Boys and the Zombies. A heavy influence on the album, “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out”, is the work of Chuck Palahniuk. The article “Panic at the Disco’s Secret Influence’s” on Rollingstone.com states, “…2005’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out was peppered with direct literary references (such as the references to Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monster’s on “Time to Dance.)”

Sales for the album “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” rose at a slower pace when first released. After four months, the song, “ I Write Sins Not Tragedies”, rose to the top 100 billboard. A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out received very mixed reviews from critics. Some critics, such as PitchFork, gave this album a very negative review, stating, “…there’s no sincerity, creativity, or originality”, while Rolling Stone gave it a good review. A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out was very different from other albums that were being released in late 2005, which is probably a reason why it got mixed reviews. Panic’s debut album brought out a new sound in the developing Pop-Punk genre. The band’s second album released in 2008 called, Pretty. Odd. also received mixed reviews (more positive than negative) from critics, but compared to Panic’s first album, this one commercially under-performed. In the Rolling stone article, “The 25 Boldest Career Moves in Rock History”, Panic! at the Disco actually ranked #25 for their album Pretty. Odd. Pretty. Odd. brought a more natural and, mellow sound than A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out.

Now, lets dive into the musical content of Panic’s album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Creatively, the band decided to split this album up into two distinctly different sections. Electronic instruments, such as drum machines and synthesizers, and are used in the first seven tracks. Track 8 on this album is actually an Intermission, which artistically links the first section from the second section, with the beginning of the Intermission featuring dance/techno beats, and the end of the song features a piano interlude. The second half of this album (tracks 9-13), uses traditional instruments, such as accordion and organ. When just the structure of an album alone is original and creative, the listener knows they are in for a musical treat, and this album certainly gives the listener an interesting musical experience.

I would like to highlight some points from certain songs on this album. Track 3, called “London Beckoned Songs About Money Written by Machines”, is a very catchy, fast-paced song with simple and almost overused written parts for the guitars, bass, and drums, but while it lacks in complexity throughout the traditional instruments, it makes up with in the appropriate use of electronics and bursts of fast paced staccato vocals. “Nails for Breakfast, Tacks for Snacks”, is the 4th song on the album, which presents very heavy lyrics about depression, prescription pills, and ultimately suicide.

“Camidsado”, is the 5th song off of the album, which also offers pretty deep lyrics that draw the listener in with the synthesized vocals, and catchy, repetitive lyrics, and happens to be one of my favorites on the album. Track 6, “Time to Dance”, is a song that I could definitely see being played at a dance or a club because it makes you want to get up and move! The words are easy to sing along with, which makes it the perfect song to dance to. “I Constantly Thank God For Esteban”, track 11, starts off a little sexy sounding, as if it was a salsa song, but the mood changes very quickly, which surprises the listener. In track 12, “There’s a Good Reason These Tables are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought of it Yet”, there is a piano playing which plays a groove that keeps the listener on their toes. The last track, 13, “Build God, Then We’ll Talk” tells an interesting story with creative metaphorical lyrics, which make the meaning of the song up for interpretation.

“The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage” is very generic and easy musically and is lyrically it is somewhat creative, but gets very repetitive towards the end of the song. There are only eight lines of this song that contain different lyrics from the chorus because the chorus keeps repeating itself. The upside of this song is that it is musically catchy, and you are able to sing along with the lyrics because it is so repetitive. Another upside is this song is it is easy to dance to, since it has a good groove. The song starts off with electric drum beats, acoustic guitar, and vocals for a few measures before electric guitar, bass guitar, and drums come in. They use this song as a way not only to introduce their first album, but also as a way to introduce their whole music career, since this is only the beginning of what they have to offer. The singer is definitely the focal point of this song, but the instruments are very important also, as they carry the peppy mood of this song. The singer’s voice is heavily enhanced to make him sound better, which kind of takes away from the song, in a “talent” perspective. The song is upbeat and the lyrics match to fit that mood, because the band is excited to start off their album/career with a bang. I chose to write about this album because this is one of my least favorite songs off the album, and while there are many high points on this album, this is just not one of them. It is disappointing to me because it seems to be one of the less creative tracks compared to the other songs off of the album, but I do appreciate the catchiness of this tune. It is a fun song just to listen to, without thinking about the repetitiveness because when you look deeply into this song, it doesn’t have much to offer.

“Lying is the Most Fun You Can Have With A Girl Without Taking Her Clothes Off” is lyrically intense, and tells a story about a man getting cheated on by his girlfriend. The lyrics at the beginning of this song are delivered fast, but in a quiet shaky voice, as the singer, asks rhetorically if he is the one his girlfriend thinks of before making love to another man. He then explains that he is better than the man she is cheating with, and he wonders if she thinks cheating on him was worth it. The chorus is extremely catchy and he says, “ So testosterone boys and harlequin girls, will you dance to this beat and hold a lover close”, meaning boys controlled by their sexual feelings and foolish girls. He is basically calling his cheating girlfriend foolish. The lyrics go well with the music because it keeps the listener on their toes, and in a way, uneasy because the singer feels hurt and angry about the cheating going on behind his back. The mood of this song is kind of angry and the singer feels disrespected by his girlfriend. The title of this song is pretty unoriginal, as it is a line said by Natalie Portman, but it is fitting for the song. Bass and drums are at the very beginning of the song, and then guitar and electronic effects kick in shortly after. Electronics are a main “instrumental device” used in this song, and are incorporated throughout the entire song, giving it a techno vibe. The singer is important in this song because he is telling a story about how he felt when he got cheated on, but the electronics kind of make this a dance song. This is one of my favorite songs off of the album, which is why I chose to write about it. It is also one of the most popular songs ever by Panic! At the Disco. I love this song because the lyrics are so intense and steamy.

“I Write Sins Not Tragedies” is another song off of this album that is also clearly repetitive lyrically, but is catchy enough, and presents a story creatively enough to be one of my favorite songs off of the album. This song is lyrically creative because this band seems to go where many bands fail to go in a song. This band is very blunt in their words at times, but is also talented in using metaphors to leave their lyrics up for interpretation. The beginning of the song starts off with a plucked violin being played, which gives the song a mysterious sound, but also a church-like sound. Other instruments that come in later are guitars, bass, and glockenspiel, as well as vocals. I interpreted this song as a man walking down the aisle on his wedding day overhearing people saying that his bride is a whore. He then begins to say, “I chime in with a haven’t you people ever heard of closing the godda** door”, meaning either that they should stop talking about how she was in the past, or that if they have something so personal to say, to say it in private or behind closed doors. The mood of this song is outrage, and I believe the lyrics fit the music perfectly because the singer (groom in the song) is livid that people are speaking about his new wife like that. I love the plucked violin at the beginning of the song, and I much prefer that sound to any electronics that were played in the first half of the album. This song is a “classic” and also one of the most popular songs by Panic! At the Disco, and I felt like it should be critically analyzed from a musical standpoint, which is why I chose this song. I personally love this song, and it has to be my favorite off of the album.

Overall, I really enjoyed this album, as it is different to any other albums I’ve ever heard. Even though many of the songs on this album were repetitive, it is musically, structurally, and lyrically creative. When I ran the three songs I critically analyzed through the website whosampled.com, none of them sampled any other songs in them, which shows how original and creative they really are. Other people remixed some of their songs, or covered them, or even used a sample from one of their tracks, but Panic! didn’t sample any other songs made by artists before them. The instrumentation and vocals were very unique, and I really appreciated that the first half of the album created a completely different vibe than the second half. For this being Panic’s first album, they definitely thought outside the box, and put a lot of thought into making this a musical masterpiece to remember.

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