Panic! at the Disco’s “Emperor’s New Clothes” about Former Bandmate’s Struggles with Addiction
Eclectic pop-punk band Panic! at the Disco has made a name for itself for their unique and powerful sound as well as being lyrically upfront yet also layered in meaning. Coupled with theatrical and memorable music videos, and intense emotion, Panic! at the Disco is a musical powerhouse that is unafraid to tackle tough subject matter. With their upcoming album, Death of a Bachelor, they’re doing it again but with a message that hits much closer to home.
Lead singer and sole remaining original band member Brendon Urie spoke candidly about the inspiration for “Emperor’s New Clothes”- the first single from the newly announced album.
As reported by Yahoo!Celebrity, Urie says he drew inspiration for the powerful and haunting song from his relationship with former bandmate and friend, Spencer Smith. The song serves as a continuation of the 2013 hit song “This Is Gospel” and delves further into Urie’s further feelings about Smith’s struggles with addiction.
Urie says he decided to continue the story established in “This is Gospel” because it “never felt like a closed book.”
The two songs and videos mesh together masterfully to tell the story of a young man struggling with inner turmoil and worldly pressures. “Emperor’s New Clothes” is especially poignant; in watching the video you definitely get the sense of watching someone succumb to darker, baser desires.
The lyrics tell two very haunting stories, though the second becomes clearer once you consider Urie’s inspiration was the addiction of someone he holds dear. In the song’s lyrics (which you can read here) you can see the pain of a friend watching another succumb to the disease of substance abuse. The first verse is especially striking in this light:
“Welcome to the end of eras
Ice has melted back to life
Done my time and served my sentence
Dress me up and watch me die
If it feels good, tastes good
It must be mine
You just might see a ghost tonight”
“Emperor’s New Clothes”, Death of a Bachelor
Brendon Urie has said that the 2013 prequel to “Emperor’s New Clothes” was a message to Spencer Smith because he found it easier to communicate his feelings via song than conversation. Though Smith ended up leaving the band 2015, the Urie says the song helped their relationship.
“It was a catalyst for a healthy conversation and a healthy jump forward into the relationship we still have,” he said.
The song may have also helped in Smith’s decision to enter rehab in August of 2013, cancelling his appearances on their tour at the time. By continuing the story begun with “This is Gospel”, Urie is exploring the intense reality of recovery through the eyes of an outsider, which is important in the healing process for both men.
Smith and Urie maintain a strong friendship, and Urie has not completely negated the idea of a reunion with the original band members, but says at the moment they are all invested in personal projects.
Death of a Bachelor is slated for release on January 16th, 2016.
What do you think of the way “Emperor’s New Clothes” handles addiction? Give us your opinion!
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About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.