You are not a true fan until you have experienced the original, and that goes for everything. Whether it is your favorite author and their first book, your favorite candy and it’s original flavor, or your favorite artist and their first album, they all have a starting place. For the Alternative/ Rock band Twenty One Pilots that place is their 2009 Album called Twenty One Pilots. It is the rough draft to their career. What makes this album so special is the fact that it was produced under their own name oppose to a label, years before they got their record deal. This album is a personal favorite of mine due to it’s audacity to be different. In this album they labeled themselves as a rock band, and in each track you will hear four main aspects: (things they continued to include in their new songs as well on their most recent album Vessel) singing, rapping, piano, and drums. The musical duo’s lead singer, Tyler Joseph, is responsible for the vocals, piano, and other electronic sounds mixed into each track. Josh Dun is the second contributor to the album and plays the drums.
Like most alternative bands this album is filled with figurative language in order to paint a picture and tell the story for each listener. You can choose to take each lyric seriously or figuratively as intended. Use this lyric as an example from one of the slower songs on the album called Addict With a Pen “I’ve been traveling in the deserts of my mind and I, I haven’t found a drop of life.” Music’s modern day poetry is one of many ways to explain it. Listening to the album at first you might think that it was a soundtrack from a Broadway musical that has yet to make any sense. Each soundtrack is dramatically composed and sung with intense emotion to fit each abstract lyric. Every song is unique and brings it’s own feel to the album. My personal favorite is the song titled Fall Away. It is very piano driven and has a way of representing the band as a whole while their main four aspects just hit hard.
In comparison to their ‘debut’ album Vessel released in 2013, one can say they are polar opposite twins. Sure, they have a similar sound considering it includes the same aspects and band members but it does not have the same feel or lyrical quality. Every song in Vessel makes sense and lacks the imagination effect that Twenty One Pilots dared to give. I have half a mind to say their label, Fueled by Ramen, had much to do with it. They went from labeling themselves a rock band to alternative, which is a more appropriate title. Twenty One Pilots, the album, should have been their debut but it was not what the people wanted to hear at that time. So, they got signed and changed their symbol and cover, but at what cost?
A loss of their originality. I am a huge fan of Twenty One Pilots, the band, and an even bigger fan of the label they were signed to, but I believe that their new look is nothing compared to their original sound. In the words of Cynder D. Earthial, “Nothing beats the classics.”
Although what I may label as a loss of originality, others may call reinivative. There is no denying how accomplished their latest album became. Blurryface hit No. 1 on the billboard charts for best album in 2015. It granted them mainstream privellages as their songs looped on pop radio and their fan base multiplied. It’s been reported that Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun were caught “scuffing the lines between rock, hip-hop, and electro” for this album. (Fueled by Ramen) Their top hit off the record, Stressed Out, deemed relateable to their teenage fan base and became the anthem of high schoolers everywhere. It is clearly evident that their new music, in comparison to the classics, have a more ‘poppy’ vibe, if that is even an adjective. Tyler Joesph seemed to be struggling with his out put of creativity in his song Lane Boy.
“Regardless, all these songs I’m hearing are so heartless. Don’t trust a perfect person, and don’t trust a song that’s flawless. Honest, there’s a few songs on this record that feel common. I’m in constant confrontation with what I want and what is popping in the industry. It seems to me that singles on the radio are currency. My creativity’s only free when I’m playing shows.” Tyler Joesph, Lane Boy.
The artist addressed his band’s music and how mainstream it has become. He also appeared to address other pop singers and their lack of true meaning within their music. Maybe mainstream music is all just for the currency. However, milennials often misinterpret the term ‘mainstream’ for having a negative connotation. This comes as confusing to me considering what most artisits strie for is the opportunity for their music to be heard by millions of people.. therefore they would have to sell out right? The sad part in this truth is that ‘selling out’ may cause certain artist to release music that is not reall them.
All in all, I am not an expert in the industry. I am merely a bystander watching artists ‘reinvent’ themselves while loosing their originality in the mean time. Doing so is not always a bad thing. That is what I fear Twenty One Pilots is struggling with. They want to maintain their classic vibe but also keep a steady following. I am extremely curious to see what they release in this upcoming year, and If they choose to cater more towards themselves or their quirky original lyrics from 2009.