In let’s talk about I describe my personal experience and opinion about a certain band or musician. This article is about an American musical duo that mixes hiphop and rock into an alternative sound; Twenty One Pilots.
When I think about Twenty One Pilots, I see a lonely boy alone in his room playing with an old keyboard. He is trying to make sense of the world around him and the thoughts in his head. These thoughts are not nice; he is thinking misery and death. This boy, Tyler Joseph gathers some friends and releases a first album; ‘Twenty One Pilots’ (2009). For explaining what this album is like, I take my favourite song of the band; ‘Addict With a Pen’. What you hear is a quite easy piano melody with a drumbeat. Over that, Tyler starts with spoken word that turns into singing. He is praying to God, searching for water (happiness) in the desert of his own mind. However, that is what Genius.com tells us. Based on the next performance of this song I see a deeper meaning in the song.
‘As I hold the water in the palm of my hand. Cause it’s all that I have and it’s all that I need. And the waves of the water mean nothing to me. But I try my best in all that I can to. Hold tightly onto what’s left in my hand.
The song is about cutting your wrist; the water is the blood, where he hopes to find his happiness.
This song has the same basic ingredients as their breakthrough hit in the alternative music scene; ‘Car Radio’. This song is part of the next album; ‘Vessel’ (2013). The instrumentals are better; more bass, better drums and less focus on a piano melody. ‘Car Radio’ is about having no music to distract your mind, because the car radio is stolen. This makes the person think that he can better ‘pull the steering wheel’. Those hidden meanings in the songs makes the lyrics of Twenty One Pilots more poetic. The fanbase of the band is thereby a real clique, sharing and knowing deeper meanings lead to more connection. A downside of this is however, that the music of Twenty One Pilots can be seen as a bit weird as an outsider.
In 2015 they brought out ‘Blurryface’. You can say that this was there big breakthrough in the pop industry, with ‘Stressed Out’ as a #1 hit is the biggest hitlists. In this album their mix between hiphop and rock becomes more clear; with ‘Heavydirtysoul’ as an example. There are alternative sounds, which show that their producing style is also improved. The difference between rapping and ‘normal’ singing show a kind of conservation between being bad and a change of being saved.
For explaining what Twenty One Pilots is like, I feel I have to show a lot of videos. The way both boys engage in their performance on an emotional level something you have to see, not to read. For this there are two live videos; Trees (Vessel, 2013) and Goner (Blurryface, 2015).
Their latest album ‘Trench’ (2018) has a new vibe. It is yellow, has more focus on bass and drums, which makes it more rock like. What I find wonderful of this album is that it criticizes their Blurryface phrase. Their songs are about depression and suicidal thoughts and became very romanticized by the big audience. In the song ‘Neon Gravestones’ Tyler sings about how his suicidal thoughts are romanticized, like the death of Chester Bennington, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse are. Tragic deaths were musicians have lost their selves. I am glad that Twenty One Pilots has not lost their sound or authenticity to the pop industry and are critical about their music and their imago. As you can hear in ‘Chlorine’ ; it is a own unique sound in the way beats, bass and vocals are mixed into a diverse cocktail.
Twenty One Pilots is alternative and thereby unique in the way they make music. What started as and poetic and emotional output with a piano melody, moved to a strong drum and bass instrumental basic. It may be hard to understand the deeper meanings within the songs, but once you’re in the clique you feel connected. They critical about everything that happens around their music; which keeps them authentic and not a victim of the pop industry.