On inspired, triumphant new single “Hallelujah,” Panic! At The Disco front man Brendon Urie asks “All you sinners stand up, sing hallelujah!” Yes, on the ‘sanctified’ chorus, Urie is all about sinners everywhere allowing the spirit to move through them: “And if you can’t stop shaking, lean back / let it move through ya.” Finally, he caps the hook off with “Say your prayers.” Everything from the title throughout the course of the refrain would suggest that “Hallelujah” is spiritually driven. Is it?
“Hallelujah” ranks among Panic! At The Disco’s deepest song of their career. The band has always been known for its theatrical side and while “Hallelujah” still possesses this, read further into the record and there’s much more to behold beyond the majority of their work. Yes, it was bold when Panic! At The Disco depicted a wedding from the groom’s perspective (“I Write Sins Not Tragedies”) or when “Miss Jackson” was so nasty, but “Hallelujah” is more transcendent and thought provoking; it should relate more to its audience.
“My life started the day I got caught / under the covers / with secondhand lovers / oh, tied up in pretty young things / in a state of emergency / who was I trying to be.”
On the first verse, Urie proceeds to confess his sins; it’s about being caught having sex. “My life started the day I got caught / under the covers / with secondhand lovers / oh, tied up in pretty young things / in a state of emergency / who was I trying to be.” Essentially, Urie suggests he was young and dumb and honestly being rebellious. Arguably, it could be said many young folks these days are rebellious, with many having sex at younger and younger ages. For Urie, being a Mormon, this confession is actually more rebellious given the strict rules of that particular religion.
That view of verse one is if you consider ‘sex’ to be literally ‘sex.’ Arguably, sex is used figuratively and could represent a range of sins, improprieties, mistakes, etc. Sex is the perfect vehicle for Urie’s message, but it’s important not to read too much into physical pleasure as opposed to a bigger picture.
“Then the time for being sad is over / and you miss them like you miss no other / and being blue is better than being over it.”
Then comes the pre-chorus, which seems to suggest a broken relationship. “Then the time for being sad is over / and you miss them like you miss no other / and being blue is better than being over it.” Like everyone can relate to, Urie has experienced missing his ex-girlfriend and rather than moving forward, many times people cling to being depressed about the loss, almost like a death. Again, does the loss have to be an ex or so specific? Not necessarily.
“I was drunk and it didn’t mean a thing / stop thinking about / the bullets from my mouth.”
On verse two, the lyrics seem to interpretable in multiple ways. “I was drunk and it didn’t mean a thing / stop thinking about / the bullets from my mouth.” Urie could be referencing empty sex/hooking up once more, or likely he’s referencing mistakes generally he’s made in the past and has come to realize how stupid and immature he was at the time. He shows his growth on follow-up lyric “I love the things you hate about yourself,” which suggests he’s older, wiser, and more focused on the present and the future. If you want to focus on the ‘sex’ thing again, this might show the progression from meaningless hook ups to embracing his life with his wife.
“No one wants you when you have no heart and /I’m sitting pretty in my brand new scars and / you’ll never know if you don’t ever try again / so let’s try.”
On the final verse, this newfound spirit and inspirational side of Urie shines as he sings, “No one wants you when you have no heart and /I’m sitting pretty in my brand new scars and / you’ll never know if you don’t ever try again / so let’s try.” This suggests that even though mistakes have been made and everyone is ultimately a sinner with the “scars” to prove it, it doesn’t mean you give up or don’t try to better yourself and move forward. Even more simply put, you can’t let the past ruin or rule the present or future – you have to keep on persevering.
Offering a different view of the final verse, and perhaps even more references to “loss” that occur throughout “Hallelujah,” the recent exit of Spencer Smith may play a role of pivotal inspiration; the Genius annotation suggests this viewpoint.
Ultimately, it seems that this song is directed toward the audience and not solely Urie himself. Sure, Urie uses his own experiences, but they are such common experiences as opposed to specific ones, anyone who listens to the song can relate. Hence, this would make “Hallelujah” more of a ‘congregational hymn.’ How good is “Hallelujah?” It’s fantastic!