And then there was one: A look into Panic! At The Disco’s ‘breakup’

The frontman of the iconic emo band has finally announced its official end, but this shouldn’t come as a shock.


Aaliya Luthra

After 19 years, Panic! at the Disco is officially breaking up. (Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

Ana Marks, Contributing Writer

It’s been an eventful past few weeks for emos: Fall Out Boy announced a tour and a new album, and Panic! At The Disco has finally come to an end after a long 19 years. On Jan. 24, Brendon Urie announced via Instagram that “Panic! At The Disco will be no more.” The band persisted through years of member exits and numerous scandals concerning Brendan Urie, but the decline in quality at the end was only a matter of time, it should have ended earlier.

The birth of Panic!

In 2004, Panic! At The Disco was signed by the emo legend Pete Wentz — bassist of Fall Out Boy — to his label Decaydance. Formed by childhood friends Brendon Urie, Spencer Smith, Ryan Ross and Brent Wilson, the Las Vegas natives quickly established themselves in the pop-punk emo scene with their debut album, “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out,” in 2005. The record was an extravagant cabaret-themed breakup album written by all four members. This first album would be the only one to include all four original members, as bassist Brent Wilson left and was replaced by Jon Walker after its release. Their sophomore record, “Pretty Odd,” came out in 2008. This release was a far step away from the previous album, but the band’s use of ’60s rock paid off. But, once again, the band lost some members, this time Ross and Walker, who decided to leave due to creative differences.

The band’s third album “Vices and Virtues” is arguably its best. The album is cohesive in its sound but still lyrically diverse and interesting, which speaks to the strength of having multiple songwriters. This diversity of voice was what made the band’s discography attractive to listeners. “Vices and Virtues” stands out from the rest of the band’s discography, but also points out the reason for Panic! At The Disco’s ultimate demise: letting Brendon Urie go solo under the band’s name for its final three albums.

The beginning of the end

In straying from the emo roots that made Panic! At The Disco popular back in its prime, it felt as though Urie had no care for the band’s legacy. He let the band lose the pop-punk charm that established it in the early 2000s emo scene when he could have easily been a solo artist. 

“Death of A Bachelor” was released in 2016 and it signaled the end of Panic! At The Disco. The album was the first project by the band to only feature Urie, and it should have been the last that the band put out. The album allowed Urie to reflect on his life and draw inspiration from his experience with fame. If it worked, it would have been a triumphant end to the band and a good step toward a solo career for Urie.

The second to last album, “Pray For The Wicked,” had a more commercial and pop-centered sound, something that the band had never done before. It didn’t suit the band’s established style and was ultimately disappointing to fans. The final album, “Viva Las Vengeance,” had similar musical influences to “Death of A Bachelor,” combined with lackluster lyrics. These final two albums in the Panic! discography were boring self-indulgent reflections from Urie, as he recycled the same themes and sounds from his other solo albums.

Brendan Urie’s bad behavior

In 2020, fans and other people close to the band made public misconduct allegations against longtime head of security Zack Hall. The silence from Urie was loud enough for fans. When he decided to make an official statement via Twitch, Urie made sure to clarify that he was still friends with the abuser and would not be cutting him out of his personal life. Fans also recalled their own experiences of harassment and predatory behavior from Urie dating to the band’s earlier days, which he had never addressed. In addition to these more recent scandals, the internet had also never forgotten other inappropriate comments that Urie had made, including a joke about sexually harassing fans at a concert and comparing Roseanne Barr’s racist comments to a racial equality movement. Urie’s problematic behavior continued with his repeated use of racial slurs during multiple live streams and lip-syncing videos.

The (official) end of an era

The announcement came as a shock to nobody. “Viva Las Vengeance” seemed to be a farewell to the fans that were still listening, with Urie describing it as being a reflection on his decade-long career. The end of Panic! At The Disco is also partially a result of wanting to focus on being a father. In his official statement, he says, “I am going to bring this chapter of my life to an end and put my focus and energy on my family.” This new addition to Urie’s life most likely means that he will finally be quiet on the internet. His reflections on fame seem to show that he will most likely not be stepping back into the spotlight and, given his problematic past, it is probably for the best.

On behalf of many past and current emo kids everywhere, thank you, Pete Wentz for giving us Panic! At The Disco, and thank you, Pete Wentz for helping break up Panic! At The Disco. 

Contact Ana Marks at [email protected].