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My name's Clifford Stumme, and I explain the deeper meanings of popular songs. Let's have a conversation about what you think about the songs and go deeper together. Feel free to email me at clifford@popsongprofessor.com with questions or ideas!

What does "LA Devotee" by Panic! at the Disco mean?

What does "LA Devotee" by Panic! at the Disco mean?

SONG MEANING: "LA Devotee" by Panic! at the Disco is about someone who has fallen in love with the city of Los Angeles and will stop at nothing to survive and succeed in the city.  If you found this free song explanation helpful, please help me by sharing or tweeting it. Thanks!

"LA Devotee" Lyrics Meaning

Panic! at the Disco is gearing up for its album release on January 15, 2016. The album's called Death of a Bachelor, and Urie's already released several singles: "Victorious," "Hallelujah," and "Emperor's New Clothes." The songs, as a rule, have been about overcoming and being better than before, and "LA Devotee" is not an exception. The song is intense, fast, and about someone nearly fanatical in his pursuit of what LA has to offer.

Explaining "LA Devotee" by Panic! at the Disco

The title "LA Devotee" refers to someone who has moved to Los Angeles, California in search of the fame or success the city has to offer. This person could be Brendon Urie (the lead singer and sole member of Panic! at the Disco) or someone that he's observing.

In Verse 1, he sings, "You got two black eyes from loving too hard." This person's love for LA is intense and heavy. He's been hurt in his attempts to live or survive there, but he's still staying. The devotee has had to make moral compromises, thus the "blackest soul" and "black car" to match.

But Urie "wouldn't change" this person, perhaps because he is that person or perhaps because he has romanticized a "type" of person who moves to Hollywood--the person who has fallen in love with the fame or lifestyle and does anything he can to stay there.

Urie sings, “the neon coast–it was your sign”; LA is on the coast of California, and the unnatural bright neon lights and excitement were all the devotee needed to know that he’d come to the right place.

“[T]he Midwest wind with Pisces rising” is confusing but could be a reference to Urie’s wife Sarah (who is a Pisces) being “blown” in from the Midwest where she was born in Detroit, Michigan. This line and another in the second verse (that refers to Urie) suggest that the “LA Devotee” could be Brendon Urie after all. But for the time being, he mysteriously continues to refer to the person in the second person.

Verse 1 continues with Urie singing that he “[w]ouldn’t every try to make ya’ leave, no / Static palms melt your vibe / Midnight whisperings.” Here he seems to say that (hand) palms that aren’t playing are “killing his groove,” and “[m]idnight whisperings” could refer to the city never sleeping.

The Chorus continues this description of the LA Devotee and how he lives life in Los Angeles. Urie refers to “Black magic on Mulholland Drive / Swimming pools under desert skies / Drinking white wine in the blushing light.” The first line refers to the city’s heavy and morally questionable almost magical gravity and references one of LA’s most prestigious and well known roads. The second and third lines describe the exciting, exotic lifestyle of the rich in Los Angeles and give more reasons for why the LA Devotee is so devoted.

Panic! at the Disco - Brendon Urie 3 - Clifford StummeUrie sings, “Just another LA Devotee,” to explain that he (or his target) is one of many living this lifestyle. This line supports the idea that he is singing about a type but the lines referencing his wife and he suggest that Bredon and Sarah Urie are also members of this type, and that maybe Urie is attempting to gather fellow “LA Devotees” with this song and to celebrate with them.

The rest of the chorus seems to describe the LA Devotee’s search for a good time: “Sunsets on the evil eye / Invisible to the Hollywood sign / Always on the hunt for a little more time.” This person wants to spend as much time enjoying LA and seems willing to do so with some moral compromise.

In Verse 2, Urie seems to describe some of the negatives of this lifestyle. He sings, “You got bleached out eyes from the valley sand / And the black tar palms keep weeping your name.” While the entertainment opportunities are many and varied, the sands (or lifestyle) of the valleys near LA can wear on a person, but the devotee keeps going. The “black tar palms” could refer to a sickness that affects palm trees and keeps them from being healthy–even “corrupt” or “sick” nature weeps for the LA Devotee who has given himself away to the unnatural influences around him.

But even still, Uries sings, “I couldn’t change ya / Couldn’t every try to make ya see, no.” Whoever this person is, Urie doesn’t want to try to change him or her (or maybe himself). Perhaps the person indeed is Urie because another line in the verse is “[a]nd a downtown storm with Aries rising.” The horoscope reference here replaces the one to his wife above. Urie is an Aries, and he may seem himself as a storm coming to Los Angeles.

Summary and a Thought

Whoever the mystery “LA Devotee” is, this person is well-described in Panic! at the Disco’s song, but I’m still not sure how I’m supposed to feel for the person. The person has devoted himself to a city and a lifestyle that don’t sound especially healthy (especially with the allusions to moral compromise), but Urie can’t find it in himself to want to change that person. The Devotee sounds like he’s trying very hard to feel something, but I worry that he’s looking in the wrong place. If he’s “[a]lways on the hunt for a little more time,” This person is searching for something and knows that something else will soon catch up with him.

Whatever those “something’s” are (be they situations, feelings, or fears), I hope the LA Devotees–all of them–find happiness and contentment before it’s too late.

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