The best way to begin this blog entry is with a confession: I have been a Sinner since about 2009. Panic! At the Disco being one of my favourite bands for the past eight years. However I’m not so consumed by my appreciation for them that I am not able to see the continuing issues with one of their most popular songs ‘Girls/Girls/Boys’. The issue being whether the controversial song is actually in support of the LGBTQ+ community or if it is exploiting the community for popularity.
Listen to the song here: https://soundcloud.com/panicatthedisco/panic-at-the-disco-girlsgirlsboys
‘Girls/Girls/Boys’ was the third single to be released from Panic’s fourth studio album Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! and peaked at 31 in Billboard’s US Hot Rock Songs in 2013. Since it’s release the song has had fans spilt on the debate about whether or not it should be held as an LGBT anthem or if the song acts more as an insult. As both a Panic fan and someone who belongs to the LGBTQ+ community I personally find the song to be both positively and negatively controversial. As a disclaimer any views expressed in this blog entry are not meant to offend either artist or fans but simply an exploration of an interesting argument.
The song has been labelled controversial for many reasons but one of those reasons being most predominately the music video, at least the director’s cut.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkWF2WkWd7g
The censored version of the video was inspired by D’Angelo’s ‘Untitled (How Does It Feel)’ using the same background and single shot of a nude male (Brendon Urie) zooming in and out but never dropping below the hips. Due to this the music video was not initially seen as an issue but a homage to an iconic video however the release of the director’s cut changed this. The end of the uncensored music video shows two women intimately touching both Urie and one another in such a way that it indicates a threesome. An assumption confirmed by Urie when he explained the song was about just that. When the song started to be famed as an LGBTQ+ anthem many people in the community drew attention to this version of the music video to illustrate the point that it was not the initial intention of the song. Some positives of the video have been showing two people of the same sex being physically intimate with one another (sexualisation aside) instead of hiding it.
Accompanied with the music video are some of the lyrics such as ‘I am just a villain vying for attention from a girl, a girl who can’t decide.’ It can be argued that lyrics such as these are exploiting the community due to the fact that it implies bisexuality – as the song has been linked to – can be defined as ‘not making a decision’ whereas in reality bisexuality is the being attracted to both sexes. Due to this many people believe the song to be misinformed and should not be held as an anthem. The lyrics may not be such an issue if the artist himself identified as part of the community but has been quoted describing the song as ‘barsexual’ as opposed to bisexual. ‘Barsexual’ being when sexual experimentation takes place after a few drinks. However one of the most prominent lyrics within the song is ‘love is not a choice’, an idea completely embodying the values of the LGBTQ+ community and one of the reasons it can be argued the song is an anthem. In interviews the singer has been quoted saying, ‘the perfect summarisation of that song is in the lyric, “love is not a choice”, I really believe that.’ As well as explaining how he doesn’t understand the need for labels and people should just be allowed to love who they want to love.
Throughout his career Urie has been labelled straight, gay, bisexual and everything in between so it was only expected that a song like ‘Girls/Girls/Boys’ would bring this speculation back to the surface. Although not explicitly a member himself Urie has always shown support for the LGBTQ+ community and not detracted fans from using his music as sexual expression. Believing ‘[sexual fluidity] should be celebrated. There’s no shame in it and if I can help shed some light on that fact then great.’ Brendon shows obvious support and lack of prejudice towards the community through his views and music. Due to this ‘Girls/Girls/Boys’ has gained as much of a positive following as negative.
Lyrics and music video aside the song has brought fans together and inspired people to have a more accepting nature and realise prejudice needs to be a thing of the past. One of the most amazing visual signs of the positive effects the song has had are at Panic! At The Disco concerts. Fans came up with the idea to hold up multi-coloured hearts and shine lights through them as remembrance for the victims of the June 11th Pulse Orlando shootings. Something that continued as support for all in the community. Panic! At The Disco have also released official ‘Girls/Girls/Boys’ shirts benefiting the victims of the shootings.
With these facts in mind it is understandable why people believe ‘Girls/Girls/Boys’ not to be fitting for the title ‘LGBT Anthem’ however the way it has rallied fans is undeniable. Despite the initial message of the song not explicitly being one for the LGBTQ+ community it has evolved into one due to fan interpretation. The song also being a reminder of how important fans are in the creation of music as well as the artists. Overall I believe the positive effects of the song outweigh the negative and even though I would not use the term ‘LGBT Anthem’ it is a song of both support and love continuing to be promoted.
Review by Skye W.Winwood