Panic! At the Disco Goes Steampunk in “The Ballad of Mona Lisa”

Last week, the Grammy-nominated band Panic! At The Disco released the music video for the first single of their new album, Vices & Virtues. The video for this single, “The Ballad of Mona Lisa”, is inspired by the aesthetics of the steampunk genre and is built around the steps and imagery of traditional Victorian mourning and funerary arrangements.

The video includes a great deal of steampunk imagery, specifically in clothing. In particular, Panic! At The Disco’s vocalist, Brendon Urie, wears a mechanized arm accessory that is clearly reminiscent of a well-known design created by Brute Force Studios and also features goggles on his hat, likely an homage to the Girl Genius comics by Phil and Kaja Foglio, which first introduced that style into the steampunk aesthetic in 2001. The video also uses various extras dressed in steampunk clothing, including the performance group League of STEAM, and the video’s director, Shane Drake, should be applauded for filling the background with the sort of outfits one often finds at the club. The video is quite enjoyable and it features a very clear example of the so-called “ragamuffin” style of steampunk.

The Ballad of Mona Lisa

I think we can all look forward to seeing what the video for Panic! At The Disco’s next single has to offer when it reveals itself. It will be interesting to see the next steampunk style they choose to explore. Perhaps it will be a more elegant high Victorian style of steampunk with frock coats, gowns and gilded machinery; or perhaps a rugged and adventurous explorer look with pith helmets and safari clothes. Perhaps we’ll even get one of each.


G.D. Falksen likes the fact that the general public has begun taking an interest in steampunk, and hopes that this means all of the artists who have been working in the genre and subculture for the past decade will finally get the reward they’ve earned.

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