Hello, I’m MusiCommentator, and this is my 150th post, so you know what that means: it’s time for another addition into my Albums Ranked series! And this time around, I’m going to be ranking every Panic! At The Disco album!
Panic! At The Disco is a band I have been following for a while. As I discussed in my Every Fall Out Boy Album RANKED (Worst To Best) post, Fall Out Boy is the first band that really got me interested in music. Surprisingly, I wasn’t always as invested in the modern music scene as I am now, and without FOB, I probably wouldn’t be. Since Fall Out Boy played this important part in my life, it’s no surprise then that one of the other bands I listened to in my early years of music appreciation was Panic! At The Disco. The two bands were pioneers in the early 2000s punk/emo scene, but their styles are very different, both lyrically and sonically. One of my favorite things about the band (or at this point in the band’s career, Brendon Urie) is that each of their albums takes a unique style or genre and blends it in with their own sound. All of their albums carry this trait, and I will be sure to state it in my analyses of the albums.
Before I get into that, though: some rules. Like the title says, I’ll be ranking P!ATD’s albums from worst to best. Now, when I say “albums”, I strictly mean regular studio albums. No deluxe versions, EPs, collaboration albums, live albums, compilation albums, or any other kind of album will be featured. Just to be sure we’re on the same page, though, I will provide a small list of all the featured albums in order of release date (not by my opinions) right before the rankings so I do not get anyone saying in the comments “oh, you forgot about this one”. I’d like to stress, too, that this pre-list will not be in any way affected by my opinion. When I do give my albums in the rankings, I will also give my favorite and least favorite track right under the album cover, similar to what I did in my FOB and Eminem Ranking posts. Lastly, just know that I sometimes have controversial opinions about music, especially with this list, so realize that this is just my opinion and it should not affect the way you listen to these albums if you disagree with me. Well, I don’t think there’s anything else to discuss now, so let’s do that pre-list, then get into the rankings!
Featured Albums (ordered by release date, NOT by my opinion):
- A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out (2005)
- Pretty. Odd. (2008)
- Vices & Virtues (2011)
- Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! (2013)
- Death Of a Bachelor (2016)
- Pray For The Wicked (2018)
The Ranking (Now THIS is ordered by my opinion):
#6 (WORST): Pray For The Wicked
Best Track: High Hopes
Worst Track: The Overpass
“Pray For The Wicked” is Panic! At The Disco’s 2018 endeavor, and it was written after Brendon Urie played in Broadway’s “Kinky Boots”, which explains the album’s strong Broadway influences, but it also turns out to be one of Panic’s most uninspired projects.
I wouldn’t call this a bad project, as there are quite a few songs I like. “High Hopes“, which you can see my review of by clicking on the song’s title, stands as my favorite track on the project. The huge, trumpet-driven chorus works with the motivational rags-to-riches story the song develops, and it’s quite catchy as well. “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” does a fantastic job as flawlessly combining elements of Broadway music and trap to make a cohesively pleasing song, and “King Of The Clouds” uses some great vocal effects and bass hits to craft an intense, soaring song. “Roaring 20s” and “Say Amen (Saturday Night)” also take advantage of their unique beats to make great, stadium-rocking tunes. These are some of the good songs. Unfortunately, I can’t say that about every song on this album.
None of the songs on this project are bad, but there are plenty of bland and forgettable ones. Songs like “(F**k a) Silver Lining” and “Dancing’s Not a Crime”, while competent, have no notable qualities that make me want to go back to them, especially when some of the other songs do so much better with these same qualities. This also has to be one of Panic!’s weakest albums when looking at it from a lyrical standpoint. “One of the Drunks” feels like it’s trying to be a poor man’s version of “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time”, and the weak chorus doesn’t help its case. The verses in “The Overpass” feel like they could have been written by any C-List pop writer, which shouldn’t be something we’re hearing from Panic!. Even some of the good songs contain lyrical faults, like the groan-worthy line “Roll me like a blunt ’cause I wanna go home” in “Roaring 20s”, which repeats about 100 times. The worst thing about this album, though, is the production. Like the songs themselves, none of the production on here is objectively bad, but it all feels so one-note. While almost all of the production has good elements, there is only so much overblown trumpet production I can listen to before it all starts to blend together.
So, this isn’t a bad album. There are certainly songs on here that I have and will go back to in the future, and the twist it puts to modern music with Broadway inspiration sprinkled in gives this album a unique sound. However, there are more than a few forgettable songs on here. The lyrics are also weak compared to other Panic! projects, and the production makes this project drag on, even with it being less than 35 minutes. All of this makes this one of Panic!’s worst albums.
#5: Pretty. Odd.
Best Track: We’re So Starving
Worst Track: Behind The Sea
Now, I know this is a controversial placement for this album, because a lot of Panic! fans see this as one of their favorites, but hear me out: I do NOT think this is a bad album. I said that “Pray For The Wicked” wasn’t a bad album and I’m placing this one above it, so obviously I’m not trying to defame this album’s name. Let’s just make that very clear before I get hate in the comments.
This album is Panic! At The Disco’s attempt at crossing over with folk music, which was a far departure from their sound on “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out”–the album before this one. I can surely say there are things I like and respect about this album. It doesn’t sound like someone just ripping off folk music for the hell of it. The band really seems to have a respect for the genre, especially with how they use their nature imagery. Nature is a big part of folk music, and songs like “When The Day Met The Night” really show that the band has a good grasp on this concept, which also makes for some compelling lyrics. There are also some good choruses on this album, where the melodies get stuck in your head for a long time. Good examples of this are on songs like “Nine In The Afternoon” and “Mad As Rabbits”.
Now, why I don’t like this album as much as many of their others is…a little hard to describe. See, there isn’t much that is objectively wrong with this. The instrumentation and vocals are all pleasant, and the lyrics are pretty good. Really, it boils down to this folk style not really lining up with my personal preferences. I know that is a pretty crappy excuse to not like an album. That’s pretty much the one thing you aren’t supposed to say about something as a music critic, so you should probably revoke my music reviewing license. But, my Ranked lists are all based off of personal preference. I don’t consider how well the album did commercially or whether other people liked it, it’s all based on how I respond to the music. So, if an album in an artist’s discography doesn’t do much to intrigue me, it probably won’t get very high on my ranking, and that’s exactly what’s happening with “Pretty. Odd.”. I always find myself incredibly bored and zoning out when I listen to this album, so I can’t rank it very high. Again, I would like to stress that I don’t think this is a bad album: it’s just not for me.
#4: Death Of A Bachelor
Best Track: Death of a Bachelor
Worst Track: The Good, the Bad, and the Dirty
Despite this album being in the 4th spot, I would again like to reiterate (probably for the 100th time) that I like this album a ton. This is Panic!’s fifth studio album, and much of it’s instrumental inspiration was taken from Big Band music, whose popularity peaked around the 1930s-40s. However, Urie does a lot with this style of music, and this is probably one of their best albums on an instrumental level.
One of the best examples of how well Panic! used this Big Band sound is in the title track, “Death of a Bachelor”. The synthesized horns sound like something that would come from Frank Sinatra’s band, but the modern trap hi-hats help ground the song in modern times, giving the whole track a unique atmosphere rarely captured by other songs. “Impossible Year” is another track that gives great Sinatra-vibes, specifically through Urie’s deep voice. Most of the songs do not sound as downbeat as these two, though. “Victorious” and “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time” are great pop jams that embrace the large, extravagant nature of Big Band groups. The latter song specifically captures this with how over-the-top it is, from the cheesy but apt B-52 sample to the larger-than-life party lyrics. Other highlights from this album include “Hallelujah”, “Emperor’s New Clothes”, and “Crazy=Genius”.
While a lot of this album is creative and amazing, it does suffer a lull in the second half of the album. “Impossible Year” is a perfect closing track, but from “LA Devotee” to “House of Memories”, the album is padded with filler. There are good parts in these songs, of course. “Golden Days” has a great pre-chorus, and this buildup leads into explosive chorus that makes the wait all worth it; “House of Memories” contains a bridge that stands out in quality above the rest of the song. Even these two tracks, though, when compared to the first half of the album, pale in comparison. “LA Devotee” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Dirty” are two tracks that I have listened to multiple times but can barely remember anything from, which is a testament to their forgetability.
“Death Of A Bachelor” was an album that easily could have been bad. Urie was the only prominent member of the band, and he could have made an uninspired, pop sellout album off the heels of some of the successes from their fourth album “Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!”, but instead he made one of their best sounding albums. Lyrically it isn’t as strong as some of the albums we will soon be talking about, and there are certainly tracks that don’t live up to the bar some of the others set, but this album is still a great project in their discography.
#3: Vices & Virtues
Best Track: The Ballad Of Mona Lisa
Worst Track: Sarah Smiles
Panic!’s third album is hardest to pin down when addressing which genres it took inspiration from. There are clear elements of pop and alternative rock that pop up all over this album, but the violins and other classical instruments seen on most of the songs suggest inspiration from much older genres. Either way, this album uses its sounds to its advantage to concoct a great project.
The album starts off incredibly strong with “The Ballad Of Mona Lisa”, which sounds like a cut from “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” without sounding too sonically distant from the other tracks on this album. It’s probably one of their best tracks of all time, and it sets some important precedents for the songs that follow it. Much like this song, the album is characterized by repetitive but cryptic lyrics and large hooks. Very large hooks. The two following tracks, “Let’s Kill Tonight” and “Hurricane”, are great examples of this. Much of the pop inspiration this album takes can be seen in the structure of these choruses, which is partially what makes them so damn catchy. There are one or two lines from every song on here that easily gets stuck in your head after you listen to it. “Memories” and “Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)” carry this pop influence on their sleeves, with the latter even containing the infamous “millennial whoop”. But, they’re still earworm tracks that sound good and fit with the rest of the album. The album ends on a high note with “Nearly Witches (Ever Since We Met…)”. The track contains a chilling children’s choir which fits in perfectly with the huge chorus. It’s a perfect album closer!
When it comes to stuff I don’t like about this album, I can’t really blame it all on one or two songs, as I like all of the songs on this album for one thing or another (of course, I like some more than others, but that’s beside the point). “Always” and “Sarah Smiles” are songs that sound like they would fit perfectly on “Pretty. Odd.” Saying this now, I bet a lot of you are going to say “well I bet you hate those tracks because you seem to have a vendetta against ‘Pretty. Odd.’, you sick human being”, but I actually kind of like these tracks, especially “Always”. I can’t really explain why, but maybe I just like the indie-crossover style they were going for in small doses rather than in a whole album. Still, compared to other songs I like on this album, they don’t hold a candle. There are also tracks on here whose enjoyment can be found exclusively in the chorus, like in “Trade Mistakes” or “The Calendar”, making the remaining runtime in those songs boring and pointless.
Having said this, this album is still a large success in my mind. Panic! was able to rebound from the critical hate they received for “Pretty. Odd.” with a project full of catchy hooks, thoughtful lyrics, and unique production. The album also has a lot of heart in it, which makes it feel less commercial than some of their other products. This might be one of their lesser known albums, so you should listen to it if you’re a fan of Panic! and haven’t heard it yet.
#2: Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!
Best Track: Nicotine
Worst Track: Vegas Lights
Panic!’s fourth album is mostly inspired by electronic music and EDM, which was becoming a big trend when this project was released. A Panic! At The Disco album, who are a punk band at their core, using a lot of electronic elements sounds like a bad idea, but this album turned out to be one of their best.
The album opens up with the potent “This Is Gospel”, which is a perfect introduction to the electronic influences of the album. The vocal effects on Urie’s voice are near angelic, and when that arena-rocking chorus hits, you know it is one of the best songs on the album. The song also starts off with an electronic drum sounding like a heartbeat, which adds the layer of irony that points out that one of their most emotional albums–this one–is carried by non-human instruments. This leads into “Miss Jackson”, which uses its female feature LOLO to its advantage. Her mesmerizing vocals help bridge the quieter parts of the track before the epic chorus kicks in. “Nicotine” might be my favorite track off the album, as the instruments blend electronic and rock perfectly, making the lines between the two genres feel seamless. The lyrics are also captivating, as they tell of Urie’s complicated emotions for a lover, aided by the extended metaphor of a nicotine addiction. One of my favorite parts about this album, though, is how it uses the darker, more minimalist/hip-hop inspired side of electronic music to concoct some of its tracks. “Girl That You Love”, “Casual Affair”, and “The End of All Things” use beats fueled by menacing minor chords and stylistic autotune to set up a cold, chilling atmosphere which makes all of these tracks amazing pieces of art.
There isn’t much to say that I don’t like about this album; there are only a couple tracks I have gripes with. “Vegas Lights” has a very glitzy and glamorous instrumental that doesn’t fit with a lot of the darker tracks on here and the children sample, unlike on “Nearly Witches”, is frankly a little annoying. “Girls/Girls/Boy” also doesn’t attract my attention the way some of the other tracks do, but that might also be because the uncomfortable music video has been burned into my head.
Still, these couple of songs do not outshine all of the other great songs this album provides. Panic! went all in with the darkness electronic music could provide and made an album with phenomenal production and biting, emotional lyrics that fit the songs very well.
#1: A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out
Best Track: There’s a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought of It Yet
Worst Track: n/a
Rarely is a debut album so ambitious and influential that it becomes the magnum opus of an artist or band’s career, but Panic! At The Disco happened to be one of those bands, and they made a debut album so great I would argue it is one of the best emo albums of all time. This album’s sound is very inspired by vaudevillian music, and while emo/punk and vaudeville is one of the weirdest musical combinations you have ever heard, Panic! does it in a way that makes the two genres sound like they were meant to be put together. There are also multiple elements of electronic music seamlessly woven in that help bridge the gap between these two very different musical styles.
The first two tracks (excluding “Introduction”) take shots at critics and controversial artists, but the way they word the lyrics make themselves sound very classy and poetic, which helps with the vaudeville theme the album goes for. “Nails for Breakfast, Tacks for Snacks” and “Camisado” are about one of the writer’s father’s alcohol addiction. Parental troubles are common in emo songs, but Panic! takes these common themes and really makes them their own. The former song uses stylistic autotune, proving how ahead of their time Panic! was, and “Camisado” uses unique instrumental choices like the lone piano at the beginning and the electronic synths later in the song. Both of these songs have similar themes, but Panic! do a lot to make the songs sound different. “Time to Dance”, lyrically, doesn’t resonate with me as much as some of the other tracks, but this can be forgiven because it has one of the best instrumentals on the album. The minor keys and dark synths in the track do a lot to amp up the intensity of the song. “Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off” is a spiteful track about a former lover, whose malice-filled lyrics give the song its energy.
After “Intermission”, the vaudevillian inspirations turn up even more, with the chorus of “But It’s Better If You Do” containing a fitting trumpet section. Of course, I couldn’t talk about this album without mentioning “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”, their breakout hit. The violins and glockenspiels sprinkled throughout the track give it its vaudevillian flair, but its punk-rock chorus and iconic lyrics engrave the song’s name in emo history. “I Constantly Thank God for Esteban” adds a bit of a salsa flare to the album, and its layered lyrics provide criticisms about multiple facets of life through well-concealed symbolism. The next track is my favorite off the album (and I’m not writing out that entire name again) as it was the first Panic! song I really heard. Not only do I like this song because of my connection with it, but its vaudevillian influences really shine on this track, even in the lyrics. The last track acts as a great closer to the album, going back to the common themes of the angst of love in emo music, but doing it in a way that only Panic! could.
This album really is Panic! At The Disco at their peak. Not only is it the reason they are seen as one of the most respected emo bands of all time (as none of their other albums are truly as emo as this), but it shows how ambitious they were at the time and helped with the showmanship of the act. The odd blending of genres is something nobody would have expected, but it worked great in practice! It also shows off the band’s lyrical talents because it takes common emo themes and writes them in a way that sounds fresh, new, and almost classy. The band’s absolute refusal to confine themselves in emo tropes, lyrically and sonically, proves they were more punk than most other emo bands at the time, and that is what makes this album one of the best emo albums of all time.
Thank you for reading my Panic! At The Dico Album Ranking, and thank you very much for helping me get to 150 posts! If you liked this post, make sure to follow my website, Twitter, and Instagram, like this post, and be sure to check in to read my future reviews. Also, if you have something you want to see me review, tell me in the comments. Until then, keep on listening to good music! I know I will.