The Ballad of Mona Lisa

Album: Vices & Virtues (2011)
Charted: 43 89

Songfacts®:

  • This is the first single by Rock band Panic At The Disco's third album, Vices & Virtues. The song was released on February 1, 2011 and marked the debut of Panic's new two-man lineup after the exit of Ryan Ross and Jon Walker, leaving as the remaining duo singer/multi-instrumentalist Brendon Urie and drummer Spencer Smith.
  • Urie explained to MTV News that the single and the album are intrinsically linked. "Basically, all of the songs, including 'Mona Lisa,' kind of touch on what the album is called. It's called Vices & Virtues, and in one way or the other, at least one to 10 virtues or vices are represented in every song," said the singer. "[It's] little minor things I didn't know were vices or virtues, until we looked them up. I was like, 'I don't know what altruism means, so I'll look that up.' Things like logic, pride, vanity — it can go either way. So it was kind of interesting to read about that. And it just made sense, because all the songs [on the album] are so all over the place," he continued. "They don't sound anything like each other, and it's like, 'How does this all tie together?' and then it kind of made sense. It was kind of lucky."
  • The music video was shot in Los Angeles with director Shane Drake, who previously directed the group's clips for "Nine in the Afternoon" and "I Write Sins Not Tragedies." The clip runs through traditions of mourning and stages a funeral in an alternative universe. The video's concept is partly about saying goodbye to the band's past and bears many similarities to the "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" promo, from the church setting to various camera shots (the dusty top hat resting on a church pew is the same one for "Sins"). "When we were talking about the concept, somebody had the idea to kind of tie in to the beginning of the 'Sins' video, and we realized it would work with it," Spencer Smith told MTV News. Another nod to the band's past is that the clocks on the wall are all set to nine o'clock, in honor of their "Nine In The Afternoon" video.
  • Urie explained the meaning of this anthemic power-rock ballad to Spin magazine: "On the surface it can seem like just the story of drama between a guy and a girl. But it's really about what I've been going through, an inner-struggle within myself, and fighting the dualities of my personality - the side that f--ks everything up and destroys everything and the other side that tries to pick up the slack."
  • Urie came up with the original idea for this song before the band had even started touring on their 2008 album Pretty. Odd. He told MTV News: "It was just sitting in my laptop collecting figurative dust on my hard drive, not really doing much."

Comments: 3

  • M from Toronto, OnThis song is one of their best, that's for sure
  • Carli from Phoenix, AzThey played this in concert lastnight on their tour. What an awesome song! I like New Perspective too. I'm suprised I like songs off the new album since I'm such a fan of "A fever you can't sweat out"
  • Miranda from Columbus, OhI. Love. This. Song. Amazing. Good job, panic!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Yoko OnoSongwriter Interviews

At 80 years old, Yoko has 10 #1 Dance hits. She discusses some of her songs and explains what inspired John Lennon's return to music in 1980.

Part of Their World: The Stories and Songs of 13 Disney PrincessesSong Writing

From "Some Day My Prince Will Come" to "Let It Go" - how Disney princess songs (and the women who sing them) have evolved.

Susanna Hoffs - "Eternal Flame"They're Playing My Song

The Prince-penned "Manic Monday" was the first song The Bangles heard coming from a car radio, but "Eternal Flame" is closest to Susanna's heart, perhaps because she sang it in "various states of undress."

Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy and Black Star RidersSongwriter Interviews

Writing with Phil Lynott, Scott saw their ill-fated frontman move to a darker place in his life and lyrics.

Victoria WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

Despite appearances on Carson, Leno and a Pennebaker film, Williams remains a hidden treasure.

KissFact or Fiction

Kiss is the subject of many outlandish rumors - some of which happen to be true. See if you can spot the fakes.