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Did Panic! At the Disco Copy These Classic Songs for Viva La Vengeance?

Brendon Urie smiled at the crowd while performing.
Panic At The Disco, frontman, Brendon Urie. Photo by: Tommy Williams.

Last updated on October 22nd, 2022 at 05:42 pm

Panic! At the Disco delivered a spectacular show in Minneapolis, MN but fell short when his new songs seemed to mimick timeless classics.

Brendon Urie is quite an amazing vocalist and performer, someone I’ve admired for many years, but I was caught off guard when the live versions of the new album sounded like Queen, Bowie, and styles otherwise considered classic rock.

Borrowing lyrics or riffs from songs like All by Myself, by Celine Dion, the Ramones, and Queen, Brendon Urie seems to have been closely inspired to create a new sound for his next album.

Panic! At the Disco entered pop fans’ lives through Brendon Urie’s expansion to grandeur pop songs, like the hit “High Hopes,” and his accomplishments with movies such as Frozen 2 and cover of The Greatest Showman Reimagined. The band became a household name.

Panic At The Disco, frontman, Brendon Urie preforming on-stage
Brendon Urie of Panic At The Disco performing on-stage. Photo by: Tommy Williams

Fans of different generations and fashions flocked to the Xcel Energy Center in droves. Panic! is well known in the area for fantastic live performances, and the filled stadium showed it immediately.

This concert was unique in that Panic! At the Disco was performing their entire new album Viva La Vengeance straight through.

Panic At The Disco, frontman, Brendon Urie on stage.
Panic! At The Disco, frontman, Brendon Urie on stage. Photo by: Tommy Williams

The show started with great suspense and build up to epic proportions immediately. Purple lights illuminated the smoke pouring over the stage.

The band starts playing as Brendon Urie rises out of nowhere onto the catwalk. He winks and starts, “Say Amen” from 2018’s Pray for the Wicked, and it was nonstop entertainment from then on.  

Panic At The Disco perform with pyrotechnics shooting up from the stage
Panic! At The Disco on-stage Photo by: Tommy Williams

Unfortunately, the quality Panic! At the Disco is known for may have slipped into showy antics and fluff. Lyrically, the album is full of clickbait phrases and flashy proclamations. 

I was surprised by the barely enthusiastic reactions from the audience when the play-through of Viva La Vengeance began.

It’s a given that Panic! At the Disco would put on an incredible show; to be clear, that can’t be denied. But there’s an important distinction to be made.

Did Brendon Urie’s nod to ’70s Rock hit too close?

When “Viva Las Vengeance” started, I thought it was cool that they were playing a cover. I couldn’t wait until Brendan shouted the nod to the original song afterward, letting us in on the joke. But it never came. It sounded so close to a song I knew very well.

Look at these side-by-side comparisons. The first 6 seconds have similar instrumentation and pattern for the same 6 seconds of each song. Each goes their different vocal and lyrical directions after.

The first 6 seconds of instrumentation of Ramones “The KKK Took My Baby Away”
Comparing the first 6 seconds of the instrumentation to the Ramones’ song “The KKK Took My Baby Away”

Look at the beginnings of these two songs. Listen at the 9-second mark to the 19-second mark on “Dancing with Myself.”

It sounds like a similar instrumentation pattern to “Local God.” Then continue listening through the first verse. The first verse also sounds similar in vocal patterning, though a different singing style and genre.

“Local God” by Panic! At the Disco seems to bear a similar pattern to this famous Billy Idol song. Compare from :09 to :27 
Comparing the first :25 seconds of the intro with Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself”

Is he rehashing 70’s rock songs as a shortcut to create nearly guaranteed likable songs? Do we no longer expect so much from a pop star? Or is it brilliant– bringing familiarity into a new sound?

There’s the argument that nothing is new. The newer generations haven’t heard these amazing songs from the 1970s. Is it time to expose fans to modern versions?

Below is another example. Compare the first 13 seconds of the song “Surrender” by Cheap Trick.

Can you hear the drum roll and then the guitar instrumentation that follows? Do you think it’s a coincidence that the song “Middle of A Breakup” follows a similar pattern?

“Middle of A Breakup slightly resembles the first :13 of the Cheap Trick hit “Surrender”
Compare the first :07 seconds to the first :13 of the song “Surrender” by Cheap Trick

What did the audience think?

Looking down over the crowd, they slowed their dancing during the album play-through. It was visually stimulating, and fans looked intrigued. I wasn’t seeing people go wild or scream endlessly.

I saw people pause and stare, cocking their heads. The person next to me I’d been chatting with got up and left, saying it wasn’t really worth staying for.

I wondered if they were mischievously throwing in a cover of a rock song, and we were part of a special moment that isn’t recorded anywhere! But the nods never came. It was, in fact, very much promoted as original material, to which he seemed very proud of it all.

One could turn to YouTube and see several comments naming the famous songs he seemed to pull from. Many album reviews also note that a lot of songs sound like Queen, which is known to be one of Brendon Urie’s favorite bands.

This particular song has the general feel of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and I can get behind that. It’s valuable to be inspired by past songs that have impacted us. I appreciate it when I hear a band give a shout-out to another band. How far is too far?

Look below and enjoy one of Queen’s biggest hits, do you think it resembles the sound and vocal patterning of “God Killed Rock and Roll?”

Panic!’s “God Killed Rock and Roll” bears a slight resemblence to “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Comparing this to “Bohemian Rhapsody”

If anything, this opens up discussions about what is inspiration and copying. Where is it appropriate to give homage to a favorite song or band?

How close to the cloth can an artist cut before they should give credit to the artist they are emulating?

Opening Acts – Beach Bunny and Jake Wesley Rogers

Jake Wesley Rogers is the first to play on the big night. He is fun to watch and kept us on our toes with his singing and dancing. 

His music appeared inspired by Elton John, and his cover of My Chemical Romance’s Black Parade was amusing, as MCR played the next night in the same arena. 

Jake Wesley Rogers popular song

He sang very well and was also very earnest. He had no hesitation in telling us his life story, he opened up about the pain of growing up as an outsider. His family supported his coming out as gay, but he felt he had to hide it from the community he lived in.  

He was inspiring and, I hope, made those who feel like outsiders feel a bit more seen. Whether an orientation that doesn’t feel like the norm or being someone who wants to dress uniquely and outside the norm, I hope people can be open-minded in response.

Beach Bunny hit “Good Girls (Don’t Get Used)”

Beach Bunny came on and started the evening by asking everyone in front to get low. The looks of confusion prompted her to insist.

“Get low, get low,” Lili Trifilio sang, quoting Lil John’s popular song.

The crowd in front obliged and got low. She started their set with everyone jumping up, dancing, and having fun. It was a cute attempt at something different and achieved a memorable effect.

Beach Bunny is likely best known for their Tiktok hits “Prom Queen” and “Cloud 9,” but deserves to be known for more than a TikTok band.

Beach Bunny fan favorite “Prom Queen”

They were a pleasant surprise and a great choice playing before Panic! At the Disco. They have an indie rock surf vibe and played very well. I had a blast watching their energy on stage.

Trifilio has a way of singing in a catchy, cute, and earnest way about dating and dealing with all these ridiculous expectations of our bodies.

“Shut up, count your calories
I never looked good in mom jeans
Wish I was like you
Blue-eyed blondie, perfect body”

“Maybe I should try harder
You should lower your beauty standards
I’m no quick-curl barbie
I was never cut out for prom queen”

Fitting into the theme of feeling like a misfit across all three bands performing tonight, this particular band resonated and stuck with me. Given their success, it seems to have struck a chord with many people.

Panic! At The Disco was dazzling to the eyes.

One of the most noticeable bonuses to the performance was the floor-to-ceiling video screen. It showed videos such as red and black snakes writhing around and dark red and black castle-like video.

Another strange montage was slow-motion close-ups of people getting hit in the face with water balloons. Another got hit with dust, and the effect was mesmerizing, albeit very odd, watching the dust fly off their face.

Panic At The Disco, frontman, Brendon Urie performing on-stage.
Panic At The Disco, frontman, Brendon Urie performing on-stage. Photo by: Tommy Williams

Towards the show’s end, confetti guns blasted strips of paper everywhere, and people oo’d and ahh’d in excitement.

Brendon Urie always looked great as changed through outfits and flipped his mic confidently, catching it every time. He strutted around the stage with ease and confidence. He played to the crowd like it was something he was always meant for.

Close up of Panic At The Disco, frontman, Brendon Urie.
Close up of Panic At The Disco, frontman, Brendon Urie. Photo by: Tommy Williams

Even with a mishap, he would laugh it off and recover well. He knows he has an incredible voice and a wide range. “God Killed Rock and Roll” and “Star Spangled Banger” are likely the better-performed songs on the tour.

There was plenty of pyrotechnics and once the side of the stage started on fire. It was put out in no time and the concert continued without Urie missing a beat.

Another unfortunate observation was that the song transitions seem clunky and the timing wasn’t as tight as I expected it could be. Some of the new album’s songs seemed to be sloppy in performance.

Brendon Urie of Panic At The Disco, performed at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN.
Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco. Photo by: Tommy Williams

However, Brendon Urie’s vocals, dancing, and creativity show skill and talent. The much-anticipated encore brought out the popular and fan-favorite songs “Death of a Bachelor” and “Victorious.”

The stadium went wild!! But not as wild as during the next song “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies,” the 2005 hit off their first album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out.

In fact, everyone was singing so loud Urie stopped singing and beamed at the stadium during the chorus. He said with shock – “Wow, after all these years…!!”

He ends the concert with “High Hopes,” and his energy is still sky-high. He playfully darts around the beams of light on the catwalk, grinning all the while. His ability to have such fun after an intense concert with a few issues is admirable.

One can’t deny the delight and the excitement of a Panic! At the Disco concert. It is something a music fan should definitely see in their lifetime.

Written by Renee Jones

Writer, Photographer, and Editor at Music in Minnesota


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