This song was years in the making and involved nine different songwriters. The "Mama said, don't give up" refrain was written by Tayla Parx (Fifth Harmony's "Bo$$
," Normani's "Love Lies
," Ariana Grande's "7 Rings
" and "Thank U, Next
") at a BMI writing camp in September 2016. Penned as an experimental motivational rock song as a nod to her beloved mom, Parxx gave the track to Panic! at the Disco after two years of looking for a vocalist. Brendon Urie then worked on the song with several other collaborators, including his producer, Jake Sinclair.
Eventually, the massive chorus came together. It was clear the song had immense hit potential, but needed a storyline to tie it all together. This is when Sam Hollandar, who had worked on the 2015 Panic! track "Emperor's New Clothes
," came into the picture. Using the "mama said" theme, he came up with opening verse:Mama said
Fulfill the prophecy
Be something greater
Go make a legacy
Back in the days
We wanted everything, wanted everything
"On 'High Hopes,' we were talking about Brendon's story and Brendon's journey, but I was also thinking about my own," he said in a Songfacts interview
. "The first verse channels part of a conversation with my mom. She provided me with the confidence that I needed as an insecure little kid. And then the flip side is a dialogue with my own daughter. She comes home from school and we have these talks, and just like any other kid she has good days and bad days. There are fragments of those conversations in there as well."
Along with Urie, Sinclair, Parxx and Hollander, the other writers who contributed to the song are Lolo (Lauren Pritchard), Jenny Owen Youngs
, William Lobban-Bean, Ilsey Juber and Jonas Jeberg.