She paints her fingers with a close precision
He starts to notice empty bottles of gin
And takes a moment to assess the sin
She's paid for

A lonely speaker in a conversation
Her words are swimming through his ears again
There's nothing wrong with just a taste of what you've paid for

Say what you mean
Tell me I'm right
And let the sun rain down on me
Give me a sign
I want to believe

Woah, Mona Lisa,
You're guaranteed to run this town
Woah, Mona Lisa,
I'd pay to see you frown

He senses something, call it desperation
Another dollar, another day
And if she had the proper words to say,
She would tell him
But she'd have nothing left to sell him

Say what you mean
Tell me I'm right
And let the sun rain down on me
Give me a sign
I want to believe

Woah, Mona Lisa,
You're guaranteed to run this town
Woah, Mona Lisa,
I'd pay to see you frown

Mona Lisa, wear me out
Pleased to please ya
Mona Lisa, wear me out

Say what you mean
Tell me I'm right
And let the sun rain down on me
Give me a sign
I want to believe

Woah, Mona Lisa,
You're guaranteed to run this town
Woah, Mona Lisa,
I'd pay to see you frown

Say what you mean
Tell me I'm right
And let the sun rain down on me
Give me a sign
I want to believe

There's nothing wrong with just a taste of what you've paid for



Lyrics submitted by exitxemergency


The Ballad of Mona Lisa song meanings
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  • +6
    General Comment:So, Brendon said in an interview that this song was a sort of sequel to “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”, which is about the best man walking in on the fiancee of the groom on the night before the wedding sleeping with someone else. “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” is from the perspective of the best man, who confessed to the groom that his soon-to-be-wife was sleeping with another man the night before their wedding.

    “She paints her fingers with a close precision”
    She, the ex bride, is worrying about her appearance, because she’s turned into a prostitute, and she’ll lose business if she isn’t kept shiny and clean. “He starts to notice empty bottles of gin” He, the best man, is realizing how much he’s been drinking because he’s wondering if he did the right thing by telling the groom about the bride sleeping with someone else. “And takes a moment to assess the sin she’s paid for” he then starts noticing how she’s dealing with the sin that “she paid for”.

    “A lonely speaker in a conversation” they’re talking to each other, but not really. They’re making small talk, and it doesn’t really matter, he doesn’t need her help. “Her words are swimming through his ears again” basically, he’s thinking about what she said to him when she found out that he ratted her out. “There’s nothing wrong with just a taste of what you paid for” she’s a prostitute now, and she looks really tempting, and he’s the one that got her into this mess, so he’s thinking that he’s gonna get to sleep with her, because he turned her into one.

    “Say what you mean, tell me I’m right” He’s contradicting himself, first wanting her to let him know did he do the right thing, sleeping with the ex fiancee of his friend? Then he’s thinking, just tell me its okay. “Let the sun rain down on me” he wants the truth, but he’s not sure what it is. “Give me a sign, I want to believe” He wants her to let him know if what he’s done is right, but then (contradicting again) he’s thinking that he wants to believe for himself.

    “Whoa, Mona Lisa, you’re guaranteed to run this town, whoa, mona lisa, i’d pay to see you frown” She has him in her grasp, just like she had the groom in her grasp, and the man she slept with. She’s turned into a prostitute and everybody knows it, and they’d “pay to see her frown” because she’s done bad things by sleeping with someone else while about to get married.

    “He senses something call it desperation” He’s noticing that she’s running out of things to say, and how to act. “Another dollar another day” So he keeps coming back, mistaking the desperation for need of money and business. “If she had the proper words to say she would tell him that she’s have nothing left to sell him” When in reality, she doesn’t want him coming back. He’s the one that called her out, so she doesn’t want to please him in any form.

    “Mona lisa wear me out, pleased to please ya, mona lisa wear me out” He’s saying keep doing him, he doesn’t want to think about if what he’s doing is right or not. He’s pleased to please her, because thats what his instinct is.

    “There’s nothing wrong with just a taste of what you paid for” He’s thinking to himself, because he’s the reason she’s a prostitute, that there’s nothing wrong with getting a taste of it. So the song ends on a slightly eerie note, because he doesn’t think what he’s doing is wrong, that its perfectly okay to do it, so he’s more reassuring himself than anybody else.
    downsetoneon March 19, 2013   Link
  • +4
    My Interpretation:I get the prostitute interpretation thing, I think it really work out that way. But after reading the interview, I think there's a more personal meaning for Brendon about it, but he covers it up with the tale of the prostitute. Since everyone has got the prostitute thing down, I'll try interpreting it from the way Brendon talks about his struggling. Here's my take about it:

    The "he" and "she" are the dualities of his personality, the one Brendon mentioned in the interview. So, he's saying there's only one person, and that's him. "She" is the one that "fucks everything up and destroys everything" while "he" refers to the "other side that tries to pick up the slack." When I talk about "he" and "she" in quotation marks, I'll be referring to the dualities of his personalities. So now let's take a look at the lyrics:

    [She paints her fingers with a close precision]
    Here he talks about how "she" messes up his life playfully. When girls paint their fingers, it's usually because they want to to make themselves look pretty and to flirt and stuff, and also to cover up the ugly parts of theirs (I don't think it just means painting one's fingers; it's probably a metaphor for something else). [with a close precision] may refer to how girls are meticulous about painting their nails, which could mean that he/Brendon is trying to cover up his lack of self-confidence or his ugly sides (not that I think he has any ugly sides, but that's just my fangirlism acting up).


    [He starts to notice empty bottles of gin
    And takes a moment to assess the sin
    She's paid for]
    Brendon starts noticing how "she" is messing up his life. He notices how fucked up it is through "his" eyes, the eyes of this side of his personality that wants to fix things. "He" assesses the situation that "she" has made.

    [A lonely speaker in a conversation]
    Well, there's only one person here, and that's Brendon. The conversation takes place between the dualities of his personality. Probably, he's arguing with himself about how he should go about his life.

    [Her words are swimming through his ears again]
    "She" is trying to justify to "him" about her actions. Like, Brendon is trying to justify to himself why his sins aren't really sins. Or even if he wasn't justifying himself, he is probably becoming guilty of his conscience.

    [There's nothing wrong with just a taste of what you've paid for]
    There's nothing wrong with a taste of what you have done. Probably what "she" is trying to justify.

    [Say what you mean
    Tell me I'm right
    And let the sun rain down on me
    Give me a sign
    I want to believe]
    I haven't quite cracked this one yet, as it doesn't seem to fit as well with my theory. Actually, it still doesn't fit with the prostitution theory. At least, not as well as the other lines. It could be that Brendon can't understand himself, so he's asking someone to "tell him he's right"; to justify his actions.

    [Woah, Mona Lisa,
    You're guaranteed to run this town]
    If left unchecked, "she" might run his life. "She" is Mona Lisa.

    [Woah, Mona Lisa,
    I'd pay to see you frown]
    Alludes to the prostitution thing. Brendon is disguising his feelings through the story, remember? Not all of the lines have to refer to his personal feelings. The line gives more background o the prostitution story.

    [He senses something, call it desperation]
    Desperate to fix what "she" fucked up.

    [Another dollar, another day
    And if she had the proper words to say,
    She would tell him
    But she'd have nothing left to sell him]
    Again, alluding to the prostitution story.

    [Mona Lisa, wear me out
    Pleased to please ya
    Mona Lisa, wear me out]
    The side that messes things up is wearing Brendon out because, well, everything is messed up. Yet he is pleased to please "her" because, well, who doesn't like messing thins up once in a while? It's like when you do drugs or have an addiction or whatever. It messes you up, but you still do it because it gets you high.

    That's just my interpretation, and I'm open to all your opinions because even I don't fully believe my interpretation yet. I agree with the prostitution thing though. I didn't bother explaining it because everyone else is explaining it, and I was more interested with how Brendon said this was related to his inner struggles. All in all, it's a wonderful kick-off for the new album. Hope Ryan and Jon are back though. :/
    minewikion February 25, 2011   Link
  • +3
    Song Meaning:Quoted from a P!ATD interview with Spin Magazine that was posted on P!ATD's facebook wall:
    (spin.com/articles/…)

    Panic! recently released Vices & Virtues' first single, "The Ballad of Mona Lisa," an anthemic power-rock ballad with dark and personal undertones. "On the surface it can seem like just the story of drama between a guy and a girl," explains Urie. "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 fucks everything up and destroys everything and the other side that tries to pick up the slack."

    "It's all growing pains," he says.
    nekkidon February 09, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Comment:What a great song to start off the new album.
    omg1979on January 21, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Comment:I just noticed an error in the lyrics.

    In the line "A lonely speaker in a conversation, her words are spinning through his ears again" It should actually say "swimming through his ears again" It's a minor error, but an error nonetheless.
    PostImaginationon January 25, 2011   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation:If you are planning to read The Da Vinci Code and are not a fan of spoilers, I would stop reading.

    My theory of the meaning is completely based off of the video.

    Okay, maybe it's because I am currently reading The Da Vinci Code that I am thinking this, but, yeah. I think it has something to do with that. Because in the video the little girl holds up a sign that says, "Mary did it." Mary, as in Mary Magdelene, the supposed prostitute in the bible, believed by some to actually be Jesus's spouse or companion...a secret that everyone is trying to keep quiet. Which I haven't quite gotten to that part in the book, but I have a feeling that maybe it has something to do with a theory that her and Jesus actually had a child together, but I couldn't be sure...anyway. Then there is the fact the on the microphone or whatever that is in the video, there is a pentacle, or star, which is a huge part of The Da Vinci Code because of it's Pagan symbolism. Coincidence? Probably. But it's a fun theory. Then there is the fact that it is a little girl at the end who finds out the secret through the help of a dead man. This possibly representing the granddaughter in the book, Sophie Neveu and her grandfather, whom, in the beginning, is killed and before he dies, creates a way for her to follow clues that leads to the secret.

    It's a long shot and there are a ton of "coincidences," but you never know.
    Iblehson March 24, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:I agree, great song to start the buzz for Vices and Virtues. I can't wait for that album!

    And on to the lyrics: I think its about a prostitute?

    From what I get, without much analysis, its about this guy who pays for an escort but, idk, maybe he pays her to have her company more than her body. And she tells him its ok "there's nothing wrong with just a taste of what you´ve paid for"

    But maybe he likes her a bit more, or is more intrigued about her personality ("I'd pay to se you frown"), and she doesn't let him through because its not part of her job, so she keeps things for herself (even things she might want to say) or she'd lose a client. ("But she'd have nothing left to sell him")

    I think that's it

    I love this song! I can't wait to see what they've done with the video. I hope they release it soon.
    bittersweet_girlon January 21, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:"He senses something, call it desperation
    Another dollar, another day
    And if she had the proper words to say,
    She would tell him
    But she'd have nothing left to sell him"

    Deffinately about a prostitute
    SpaceBound1613on January 26, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation:This is how I see it, because Brendon said it's kinda like a couple fighting.

    A lonely speaker in a conversation
    Her words are spinning through his ears again
    (He doesn't listen to her.)

    Woah, Mona Lisa,
    You're guaranteed to run this town
    Woah, Mona Lisa,
    I'd pay to see you frown-
    (He doesn't listen, and she doesn't complain. [doesn't frown])

    He senses something, call it desperation
    Another dollar, another day
    (He's greedy, and all he can think about is money,)

    And if she had the proper words to say,
    She would tell him
    But she'd have nothing left to sell him
    (If she could tell him that she is mad at him, she would, but she can't)


    There's nothing wrong with just a taste of what you've paid for
    (She's be happy if he would just listen to her occasionally=Just a taste Marriage=of what you paid for)
    iamalwaysrelevanton January 27, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:When the chorus comes, it just sounds like he's talking about, well, mona lisa herself. Or comparing a very mysterious girl to monalisa.
    "You're guaranteed to run this town" - one of the things that brings people to Paris is her portrait
    "I'd pay to see you frown" - she is famous for her facial expression, a mix of frown and smile...and you do have to pay to see it

    "He senses something, call it desperation
    Another dollar, another day
    And if she had the proper words to say,
    She would tell him
    But she'd have nothing left to sell him"

    he keeps going back to try to understand her facial expression, but can't, and If she were to tell him he'd have no more admiration for that mysteriousness...


    that's how I first understood this song, but the ideas of a couple fighting or a prostitute are pretty interesting as well.
    Jubispoon February 05, 2011   Link

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