It’s Not a Phase, Mom!


Maxine Mah

Two Tuesdays ago, a small part of me died (well, not actually).

If you haven’t heard already, the band Panic! at the Disco officially announced their disbandment on Jan. 24. 

While middle school me would be curled up in the fetal position and bawling my eyes out on the floor after hearing this news, the current 18-year-old me let out a sigh of relief. It’s been known that Panic!’s lead singer and frontman, Brendon Urie, is a little more than problematic — which this article won’t get into — but many P!atD fans, or at least the ones who stanned them when they were 13, were happy to hear that the band was breaking up. For me, Panic! finally disbanding reminded me of who I was five years ago: a 4’11 middle schooler with blue hair and horribly done eyeliner, taking any and every opportunity to wail the lyrics to “Heavydirtysoul” by Twenty One Pilots, and oddly knowing the “Folie a Deux” English translation.

Of course, five years later I’ve moved on to more “mature” music — if you can call a smattering of K-pop, Beabadoobee, and SZA more mature — but I still have a great fondness for the music and bands I was once obsessed with. In fact, when my friends and I heard that P!atD broke up, we made a group Spotify session and listened to “New Perspective” on repeat for the next hour. And when I went back to my dorm, I continued to play all of Panic!’s best songs — “Nine in the Afternoon,” “This is Gospel,” “Build God, Then We’ll Talk,” and of course, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” just to name a few. What’s even better is that I only met these friends this year, but the “emo” middle school phase is so widespread that we all just assumed we knew their music — and we knew every single lyric. 

And every so often — when I decide to put my liked songs (all 1,828 of them) on shuffle — I stumble across a song I only listened to in eighth grade. Whether it be “20 Dollar Nose Bleed,” “Teenagers,” or “Fairly Local,” I somehow never fail to sing every word even though I haven’t heard the song in years. And each song just seems to slap harder every time I listen. As soon as Joshua Dun plays the initial drumline of “Lane Boy,” I get transported back to when I had goggle tan lines from swimming at 5 a.m.; back to sitting in front of the TV waiting for the newest episode of “Steven Universe” to air; back to when I thought an 89.5% in seventh grade math meant I was failing and when P.E. was my hardest class; and back to bottle flipping, ukuleles playing “Riptide,” and way too many people walking around in Adidas Superstars. And while yes, I feel incredibly old, privileged, and glad to be done with the epic highs and lows of middle school, I can’t help but feel nostalgic for the “magical” experience that was junior high. 

But as with all good things, they must come to an end (or be canceled). Twenty One Pilots went on a five-year hiatus and left their alternative music in the past. Fall Out Boy went on a hiatus and actually just came back with a new song, which I highly recommend. My Chemical Romance split in 2013, and now, Panic! At the Disco. For most of us, we found new music and were forced to move on from our “emo” phases. 

Whatever it is, our moms were right: it was just a phase. But that doesn’t mean we have to leave it in the past. I’m still going to play “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” and bang my head to “Thnks fr th Mmrs.” While I revere my dyed hair phase and wish it could be deleted off the face of the galaxy, I still appreciate what my favorite middle school bands did for me. After all, I can flawlessly sing all the lyrics to any Twenty One Pilots, Fall Out Boy, or Panic! at the Disco song (at least anything before “Pray for the Wicked” — we don’t claim that album) you throw my way. And for those who didn’t get to have their cringe middle school emo phase, it’s never too late to start. 

Art by Kayla Weiss from the UCSD Guardian