Panic! At The Disco channel Fall Out Boy in their "Miss Jackson" video.
Has anyone made already made the joke about hoping that "Miss Jackson," the new song and video from Panic! At The Disco, was an Outkast cover? Oh. Everyone has? Well, we'd be lying if we said we weren't a little let down. Not that new music from Panic! isn't exciting. Because IT IS.
Watch Panic! At The Disco's "Miss Jackson" video after the jump.
"Miss Jackson" comes from the band's just-announced fourth album, Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!, out Oct. 8. The video, directed by Jordan Bahat and featuring actress Katrina Bowden, is a dark, noir story that follows Brendon Urie on a particularly troubling night beginning in a seedy motel, and ending with, well, you'll have to watch and find out. But let's just say it's the first instance of a beheading that we've seen in a pop-rock video. The video's look at the dark underbelly, and Urie's seeming psychotic breakdown here, should come as no surprise since the album's title is taken from Hunter S. Thompson's iconic paean to drugs and the pursuit of the American Dream, "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas."
That might've been a good title for the band's early days in their home city, Urie told MTV News. When they got their start, they were too young to really experience all that Vegas had to offer. Returning later as an adult opened his eyes to the potential in the fun side of the city – they had always had the theatrical aspects down pat from the get-go. Going to clubs, Urie says, he realized that "People go there to lose themselves in the moment, and drop their guard, and it hit me in a way. Like, 'Wow, I want to do that. I want to make music like that, that moves people, that's a party, that makes you feel good.'"
That probably has a lot to do with the change in direction of the band's sound on the new album, and in "Miss Jackson" in particular; gone are the dense, lyrical pop-punk dramatics of their older material. This is essentially Panic! At The Disco, the dance club years.
The video, with its burning tire imagery and eery air of menace, calls to mind another of the band's influences, in this case Fall Out Boy's "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)." Perhaps that's intentional, because the track itself also brings to mind FOB's "Songs" tempo, structure, tone, and vocal delivery. (Which is no surprise given Panic! At The Disco, Fall Out Boy, Decaydance, and Fueled By Ramen have functioned like a musical collective, sharing producers, songwriters and guest vocalists.) Creating some distance are guest vocals from the soulful Brooklyn singer Lolo, who provides an unexpected R&B texture.
For all the slicker, polished style of the song, the video adheres to a grittier side of the notorious city. Urie looks striking in his glittery blue suit jacket, like he's ready to perform a magic show, but it's in contrast with the way things play out: a creepy séance, magical soul-sucking mist beings in the desert, and sudden violence amidst an apparent drug freak-out. Sounds like the type of Vegas you don't necessarily encounter in the guide books, or anywhere, ever, if you're lucky. At the very least, Urie has placed himself in the running to fill in for Johnny Depp if they ever film another update of “Fear And Loathing.”
"I had these sounds in my head," Urie said in an official, albeit Hunter S. Thompsonesque statement. "I just had to figure out how to get them out. So I just kept writing, writing, and writing until eventually we had all these songs and I was like, 'This is it. This is the record I want to make.' I knew it would happen, and finally it's here."
And make it they did. Even though their "Miss Jackson" video takes place in Las Vegas, Panic!'s hometown, their new sound doesn't stay very close to home. Trading in steampunk theatrics for slick, stylishly sexy rock anthems, it's almost as though the troupe is going back to their hometown roots via "Miss Jackson" while still artistically expanding their sound and style. Who says change is a bad thing?
Photo caption: Fueled By Ramen