Squawk Radio

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Liz Says It's Okay to Panic!

Panic! at the Disco’s “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” reminds me a lot of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka: Charming and funny and a little bit sinister. Just when you’re happily dancing away, you’ll catch some lyric that makes you go, “Woo. Did he just say what I think he said?” Then you’ll shrug it off and go back to dancing. But you won’t be quite as comfortable as you were.

The music is infectious pop with a little electronica sprinkled in, topped off with a dash of, yes, disco. And the lyrics... Well, there are A LOT of them, and they’re often at odds with the happy sounds of the music. The songs on this CD are indictments of gossip, hypocrisy, violence, infidelity, image, the shallowness of people/the press/the music biz/you name it. But they’re SMART lyrics. They may make you a little uncomfortable, but they’ll definitely make you think. While you’re dancing. Did I mention you’d be dancing? ‘Cause in spite of the darkness of the words, the music is so much fun?

Another thing I like about the CD is that, as a writer, so many of the lyrics describe really, really well what it’s like to have a career where you have to be creative on demand, where so many outside influences beyond your control determine your success, and where your professional performance is so public:

“Stop stalling, make a name for yourself.”

“Swear we’ll shake it up if you swear to listen.” (Or read, in the case of the writer.)

“Make us it, make us hip, make us scene
Or shrug us off your shoulders, don’t approve a single word we wrote.”

“It just doesn’t feel like a night out with no one sizing you up.” (It doesn’t feel like an RWA conference, either.)

“...the weather today is slightly sarcastic with a good chance of:
A) Indifference and (or)
B) Disinterest in what the critics say”

“Oh, we’re still so young, but desperate for attention.” (Okay, so maybe that last one is only half-appropriate for me. And the other Squawkers, too, though they’ll surely squawk about that...)

I could go on, but I’m probably already in copyright violation for printing as many lyrics as I have. What can I say? I just love music that can be intelligent and thought-provoking without being preachy and smug. Panic! at the Disco (don’t forget that exclamation point) are a band with a great talent for insight and observation, and they offer a number of anthems for the writer as well as the musician. Theirs is an eloquent voice that speaks for many of us. Plus, it has a good beat and is easy to dance to. Music just doesn’t get much better than that.
Elizabeth Bevarly, 11:19 AM