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The Severity of Smoking and Addictive Relationships

Photo courtesy of Dumielauxepices

Photo courtesy of Dumielauxepices

Morgan Bluma, Web Staffer

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I’ve been a big fan of Panic! At the Disco’s music for a very long time. Really, though, the only original band member that remains is Brendon Urie. He tends to be the one who writes the music for the band. The song, “Nicotine”, seems to showcase Urie’s talents in songwriting. One of his bandmates, Amir Salem, was going through a reasonably rough breakup, and Urie was trying to stop smoking. It’s important to never smoke in anyone’s life, but for an artist, it can cause other problems. Smoking ruins the lungs and can completely mess with your singing. Nicotine is also the most addictive drug in the world. Millions smoke and I’m sure millions will keep smoking because nicotine seems to make it impossible to stop. So, Urie and Salem wrote this song together using nicotine as a symbol of what love can feel like and the difficulty of trying to quit smoking.

The song is relatively straightforward. The narrator is actively comparing the object of his affection, a girlfriend, to the drug nicotine. He starts with a very muffled line that says, “I look like Rocky Balboa”. This was an underdog boxer from the film Rocky. It seems Urie is comparing himself to Balboa because he feels beaten up and tired like the boxer would have. He opens up with an example of the pain he is feeling from his affection as a metaphor for the pain caused by smoking: “cross my heart and hope to die, burn my lungs and curse my eyes”. The burning of the lungs would be due to smoking as well as the “curse my eyes” as smoke would cause eyes to sting.

But he is also mad at himself for thinking his girlfriend is beautiful. He explains how even though he has this pain, the love that he gives his girlfriend is addicting, and he can’t control it. He has even lost his own control: “I’ve lost control, and I don’t want it back, I’m going numb, I’ve been hijacked, it’s a fucking drag”. He is defenseless against her addictive nature. His situation with his lover has become poor or a “drag”. This word is also a hint toward the use of smoking because a “drag” is the inhale from a cigarette. Then he decides that he is done with his object of affection, such as one would quit a drug: “so, I say damn your kiss and the awful things you do”. He tries to talk himself into leaving by saying it’s better to leave than to be replaced. He surrenders to her lack of love, saying that he is no match. Which is another allusion to smoking as one needs to light a match to smoke a cigarette.

We later see that the object of his affection will never love him back. We then see him ‘relapse’ on his affection’s love by saying: “just one more hit, and then we’re through,” which is drug addict bargaining. Most people will say that this one cigarette is their last, but then they keep using this mentality. I thought this song was so clever with the allusions to smoking and to love. It’s always interesting to see an artist explain the meaning behind a song since most song writing is very personal.

It’s a very angry and sad song. It is honestly the perfect breakup song to just live in your feelings. I feel the song kind of gives hope to some of the possibility of quitting smoking. It also shows the mentality of staying in a relationship that is addictive which you know is bad for your health. I think the song is a way to step aside and to think about how you are feeling and what is best for you.

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