Have you ever had that feeling, when a song gets stuck in your head, and you just know that it’s something special? Something different? That’s what happened to me with Twenty One Pilots. I’ll be completely honest – I didn’t get Twenty One Pilots at first. Their style was super different to anything else I was listening to at the time, so I just kinda turned off. But then it got stuck in my head. For weeks. It didn’t matter what else I listened to, it always came back. Around this time, Twenty One Pilots were gearing up for the release of their second studio album, Blurryface. So with all of this adding up, I decided that I needed to give them another try. I am endlessly glad that I did. Going in more open-minded this time, I quickly fell in love with their unusual style, and, more importantly, their soul-touching lyrics. It wasn’t long before Twenty One Pilots became my favourite band, a place they still occupy in my heart.
Twenty One Pilots: A Brief History
Formed in 2009 in Columbus, Ohio, Twenty One Pilots consisted of vocalist Tyler Joseph, bassist Nick Thomas, and drummer Chris Salih. Playing at a wide variety of venues in Columbus, the electronic, hardcore, and metal influences of the various venues resulted in the unique pastiche of sound that Twenty One Pilots have become known for. At the end of 2009, December 29th saw the release of their eponymous first album. Between the self-titled album’s release and 2011, the trio continued to play shows and build up their fanbase from the grassroots.
With the end of 2011, however, came the end of an era; the departure of Nick Thomas and Chris Salih leaving frontman Tyler Joseph alone in the band. This solitude, however, did not last for long, with Tyler’s friend Josh Dun quitting his job to fill in for one single show. This one show resulted in Josh joining the band full time, laying the foundations for Twenty One Pilots to become the world famous duo that they are today. Following the release of Regional At Best, Twenty One Pilots built up a following in the midwest, leading to their record label deal with alternative heavy-weights Fueled By Ramen. The release of their 2013 label-debut, Vessel, saw them grow in popularity rapidly, with fans across the world growing in number. However, it was the 2015 album Blurryface that solidified their world-class status. While Blurryface was an initial hit among their fanbase, it wasn’t until 2016 that the rest of the world caught on, with singles Stressed Out, Ride, and Heathens achieving massive mainstream success.
The achievements of Twenty One Pilots are too many to list here, but notable ones include:
- The first band to have every song on the album certified gold and/or platinum
- Grammy for best pop duo/group performance (Stressed Out)
- Most views in twenty four hours on Youtube, with 2018 song Jumpsuit beating previous record holder Heathens, also by Twenty One Pilots
- Most weeks at #1 on Billboard Hot Rock charts (Stressed Out, Ride, and Heathens racking up a collective 59 weeks)
After the success they achieved on the back of Blurryface, the boys decided to take a step back from it all to write their next album. A year-long hiatus then began, with complete silence from the band from July 6th, 2017. While contact with the fans begun via a cryptic site called dma.org in the months prior, July 11th (2018) marked their official return; unannounced, two songs dropped on youtube, called Jumpsuit and Nico and the Niners. Despite the lack of marketing, Jumpsuit went on to break the record for most views on youtube in 24 hours. With the release of these two singles also came the announcement of the Bandito world tour, and their third studio album, Trench.
What Makes Them Special?
To list all of the things that make Twenty One Pilots special would take far more time than either you or I have; everything about them is unique. From their pioneering, genre-mashing sound, to their meaningful lyrics, there is no shortage of differentiating aspects of the band. Arguably, however, the ways in which Twenty One Pilots impact the lives of their fans are the most important; I have met so many people that claim to have been saved by Twenty One Pilots, and honestly? I get it.
The parting live message of “We Are Twenty One Pilots, And So Are You” really epitomises why this band is so important – they understand their fans, they understand what they have been through, because they have been through it too. They break down that divide between artist and fan, and give people struggling with purpose something to be apart of. Twenty One Pilots are never afraid to push the boundaries, to try something new, to reach for the stars – and in doing so, inspire millions of people just like them. I am proud to say that I am one of those people.
The Listen List
I feel like if you listened to the radio in 2016, you’ve already heard at least one of their hits, whether that’s Stressed Out, Ride, or Heathens. For the sake of giving you something new to listen to, I’m going to skip over these, albeit great, songs. I’ve made a Spotify playlist with all of my favourite songs from each album (minus Regional At Best, which is no longer on any streaming services or available to buy - but can be found on Youtube). Choosing only a few songs from each album was incredibly difficult, and to be honest if I did it again in two months there would probably be some changes, as all of their songs are incredible. Because of this, I’ve also linked their artist profile here, so you can check out the rest of their songs.
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