In their new video for "The Ballad of Mona Lisa," Panic! at the Disco re-imagine themselves not just as steampunk balladeers, but as the recently deceased. And while both depictions required some rather creative costuming — the steampunk attire is courtesy of the California-based League of S.T.E.A.M. — only one role forced Brendon Urie to channel his inner thespian.
"I play two characters ... one was inspired by 'Sweeney Todd' and is very Johnny Depp," he told MTV News last month on the set of the "Mona Lisa" video. "But that was all Shane [Drake']s direction. He let me know, 'Hey, this would be cool if you tried this,' and I'm not an actor, so I was like 'Hey whatever ... just guide me.' He's been doing a great job of that. I try, but I'm no Depp. No one's Depp."
And while fans will no doubt be talking about Urie's performance(s), they're only part of the appeal of the "Mona Lisa" clip. As soon as MTV News stepped on the video set in Newhall, California, we couldn't help but notice that it was positively packed with nods to Panic! at the Disco's past, from clocks on the wall (all set to nine o'clock, in honor of their "Nine in the Afternoon" video) to the dusty top hat resting on a church pew (recalling, of course, the VMA-winning "I Write Sins Not Tragedies").
In a lot of ways, "Mona Lisa" is as much about saying goodbye to the band's past as it is about embracing its future ... which sort of makes sense, and not just because the video takes place at a wake. With a new album — next month's Vices & Virtues — and a new outlook, Panic! are moving on, and moving forward. And this video is the first step down that path.
"When we were talking about the concept, somebody had the idea to kind of tie in to the beginning of the 'Sins' video, and we realized it would work with it," Spencer Smith said.
"It was a nice homage to some of the first stuff that we had done with Shane," Urie added. "And also, for us, mostly, it was closure."