An ultra close look at Panic! At The Disco’s colourful breakthrough video IWrite Sins, NotTragedies…
You know what not enough music videos have? Ringmasters! As luck would have it, Panic! At The Disco were aware of this when putting together their video for IWrite Sins Not Tragedies for the kajillion-selling debut album AFever You Can’t Sweat Out. It’s probably one of the best ringmaster-centric videos evermade!
So let’s dive onin!
0.01Immediately there’s something abit different going on here. Plucked cello strings, awedding invitation and abig-ass feather? It’s all alot more dramatic and theatrical than alot of what other bands were doing at thetime.
You are watching: Daniel isaac i write sins not tragedies
0.09Brendon Urie, there, channeling AClockwork Orange.
0.19Urie is doing his own echo, there, one of many incidences of Panic! putting more words into aspace than you might reasonably expect anyoneto.
0.23There’s something odd about this lot that it takes alittle while to properly put your fingeron.
0.32Urie’s mouth isn’t shown mouthing the word ‘whore’, pre-empting the inevitable censorship from music stations. The same happens with ‘god damn’ – they opted for silence over recording a ‘gosh darn’version.
0.33‘Whore’ isn’t anice way to refer to someone. The seeds of this song supposedly come from abreakup that lyricist Ryan Ross went through, and him subsequently thinking how much worse it could have been if the relationship had gone further before all going wrong. However, afew years ago, Urie wrote abit about the song that seemed like part of it had come from his life: “I had this friend, Eric — we were really good friends and he knew Iwas really into this girl and she and Ihad been talking for awhile. Iwas smitten over this girl. And Iwas slow at making amove because Iwas just so nervous. Next thing Iheard: they were fucking. And that just broke my heart.” Kind of seems like Eric is the dick in that story, tbh, and chucking words like ‘whore’ around is probably uncalledfor.
0.34Worth noting: Urie opens adoor here, significant in avideo in which closing goddamn doors is repeatedly requested. Also worth noting: look at how pleasant Brendon Urie’s faceis.
0.38Yeah, that bit should be ‘closing the god damn door’. Areasonable amount of people think this song is called Closing The God Damn Door. The actual title comes from abook by Douglas Coupland, best known for his books Generation Xand Microserfs. In his novel Shampoo Planet, the lead character Tyler writes, “I am writing alist of tragic character flaws on my dollar bills with afelt pen. Iam thinking of the people in my universe and distilling for each of these people the one flaw in their character that will be their downfall – the flaw that will be their undoing. What Iwrite are not sins; Iwrite tragedies.” Coupland has taken inspiration in the other direction – his novel Girlfriend In AComa takes its name from aSmiths song. There are other literary references on on AFever You Can’t Sweat Out – The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage comes from Chuck Palahniuk’s novelSurvivor.
0.40The erstwhile rest of Panic! are behind Urie. They’ve had afairly tumultuous history, with Urie now the sole surviving founding member. The full ins and outs of what happened are really long and involve alot of one person saying one thing and another saying another, with some ambiguity over whether some former members played on certain records or didn’t, and credit for the origin stories behind some songs abit in-betweensy in terms of people, like the Ryan/Brendan/“Eric” tale above. Whatever happened subsequently, they have one of the jammiest origin stories in music, getting signed to Pete Wentz’s Decaydance label before ever playing alive show on the strength of two songs posted to his LiveJournal. Early adopters, man. But kudos to Wentz for going, ‘You know what’ll make loads of people millions of dollars? Five dudes dressed like Victorians, one of whom plays the fucking accordion, who have never played ashow before!’
0.42These circus performers are members of the Lucent Dossier Experience, asurreal, avant-garde troupe of musicians and acrobats beloved by the kind of dudes that spend £300 on aleather top hat with big-ass rings on it. The idea came out of what would have been adrinking session between the band and director Shane Drake had the band been old enough to drink. Drake told MTV: “The whole idea came to me like alightning bolt, and Iturned to the band and said, ‘Here it is: We’re going to do awedding where the bride’s side is made up of creepy, face-painted people, and the groom’s side is all carnival vaudeville freaks. And Brendon plays the part of the groom’s subconscious. They all sort of looked at me, so Isaid, ‘Look, it’s got stilts, brides crying and infidelity. It’s perfect.’ And they were totally sold. Then Igot even more trashed and pitched it to the label.” As luck would have it, Drake had afriend of afriend who was in the Lucent Dossier Experience, and that wasthat.
0.55Oh, dude, it’s creepy. Eyes painted on eyelids.Unsettling.
0.58Playing acello in this way is known as pizzicatto. This particular cello is being plucked by session cellist and composer Heather Stebbins.
1.00Daniel Isaac McGuffey, who plays the groom here, was aformer intern for director Shane Drake, who said, “I feel bad for Daniel, because now people are constantly stopping him and asking him if he’s in Panic! At The Disco, and he gets all this fan mail written by little girls who think he’s in the band. It really got annoying, and so to get away from it all, he took ajob working at the Cheesecake Factory or someplace like that.” McGuffey was acompetitor on the fifth season of U.S. MasterChef.
1.01Also look at how fucking giant Brendon Urie’s eyes are.Bonkers.
1.08The bride is played by Jessie Preston, who there isn’t alot of information online about. There is, however, atattoo artist in Montreal called Jessi Preston, without the E, who recently did abig-ass tattoo of aunicorn on adude where his willy becomes the unicorn’s willy that kind of has to be seen to be believed.
1.33So many words! Panic! At The Disco were never the favourite band of people with limited word counts – whether consciously or unconsciously, this first generation of internet bands went abit nutso with long song titles. Journalists with space for 100 words were in areal pickle with 15-word titles (the mid-name exclamation mark is also sometimes very annoying to write, but nadechworld.com! is hardly in aposition to complain). Urie later told Billboard: “We saw that Fall Out Boy had acouple song titles that were really long. We were like, ‘Oh, that’s fun.’ We started doing it. Bands like Name Taken and alot of the bands in the scene were doing cool stuff like that, so we took it astep further. Nobody had song titles that were as long as ours.” AFever You Can’t Sweat Out included the tracks The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage, Lying Is The Most Fun AGirl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off and There’s AGood Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought Of ItYet.
1.42The whole video was shot in one day, which is really impressive given the sheer amount of shit going on – presumably circus performers are pretty good at doing their own makeup and stuff like that, which would be atimesaver. It was shot in afarmhouse in Santa Clarita, California, that had previously been used as alocation in Rob Zombie’s gorefest The Devil’s Rejects. However, in anon-Californian twist, it was freezing – fine for band members in baroque three-piece suits, less so for half-naked circusperformers.
1.48Some of the circus performers used afairly tried-and-tested yet medically inadvisable method for keeping warm: the beer jacket. “It’s difficult to catch in the video — and even Ididn’t realise it until we were done filming — but half of the bride’s side of the wedding is completely drunk in the video,” director Drake told MTV. “They snuck flasks in and were drinking to stay warm. Iwould’ve been pretty pissed at them if I’d known. Ifound out later that one of them almost threw up on mywife.”
2.03‘Poise and rationality’, with akind of double meaning if heard as “poison rationality”, is just not the kind of verbiage one expects from aband of actual children. Being able to match catchy-ass tunes, really compelling theatricality, aunique image and weirdly intricate, world-weary lyrics while too young to buy aKronenbourg is pretty flippin’impressive.
2.19This is one of enormous pop star Taylor Swift’s favourite songs. In 2019, she wrote about it: “When Ihear IWrite Sins Not Tragedies by Panic! At The Disco, I’m transported back to being 16 and driving down the streets of Hendersonville, Tennessee, with my best friend Abigail, euphorically screaming the lyrics.” Swift recruited Urie to write with her, resulting in the song Me!, which ended up as, among other things, the quickest music video to ever reach 100 millionviews.
2.26It’s your wedding, yo. That’s justrude.
2.36Imagine really feeling like shit but also being surrounded by clowns.Unthinkable.
2.48YouTube ruins the video from this point onwards with pop-up nonsense, but Urie’s role as the groom’s subconscious is revealed – it’s now the groom wearing that badass ringmastergear.
3.04And with atipped hat and some brief but impressive sub zero circussing, there we are. Ajustified winner of the Best Video award at the MTV Video Music Awards, astar-making turn from Urie and instant global superstars. Not bad for aday of pratting about in achilly barn!