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Twenty One Pilots’ New Single Is Inspired By Social Distancing

With the implementation of the nationwide lockdown, artists have been quickly creating impromptu music and releasing it without too much refinement. Whether it stems out of boredom to fill up spare time or out of an effort to add some positivity in the current situation, artists have comforted fans with new singles and remixes. Musical duo, Twenty One Pilots, recently released a new single named “Level of Concern.” The song  directly correlates  to the ongoing crisis with its lyrics and visual references in the music video. 

The video starts with Twenty One Pilots’ frontman, Tyler Joseph, setting up a camera in his studio space and then somewhat awkwardly playing the first couple of notes. He starts singing, “Panic on the brain, world has gone insane,” in an ironically optimistic style. The song is saved on a flash drive, which Joseph sends to his bandmate Josh Dun. Dun sets up his own camera at home and adds in drum beats. The flash drive goes back and forth, with Joseph and Dun attempting to reach new levels of creativity in their homes — strobe lights, glow-in-the-dark stars and even incorporating their loved ones into the project. Joseph’s two-month-old daughter makes an appearance while his wife adjusts the lighting. Dun’s fiancée, Debby Ryan — an actress best known for her starring roles in the Disney shows “Jessie” and “Suite Life on Deck” — is also featured in the music video. 

Dun and Joseph continue passing the flash drive to each other, with the surprisingly cheerful notes contrasting the desolate lyrics such as, “Need you to tell me we’re alright / Tell me we’re okay” and “Bring down my level of concern.” This is not the first occasion that Twenty One Pilots has used this technique. Their song “Not Today” has the same effect, with Joseph singing, “This one’s a contradiction because of how happy it sounds / But the lyrics are so down.” Joseph has the capacity to take on serious themes by addressing them respectfully and incorporating them into what he calls “danceable” songs.

Twenty One Pilots officially began their music career in 2009 in their hometown of Columbus, Ohio. Their musical style has varied over the years without conforming to the restrictions of one genre. Some have attempted to label them as alternative rock or alternative hip hop, while others prefer rap rock or electropop. However, the only thing that has remained consistent is how their tracks bring something new and exciting to the table. By choosing to openly talk about grave topics such as religious doubts or anxiety, Joseph and Dun’s admirable quality are evident in their songs. “Level of Concern” is no exception. This is the first single Twenty One Pilots has released in two years; while unfortunate, it seems like the vulnerability created by this pandemic stirred the duo’s creativity and need to express themselves. The duo is seen in a more intimate light while being filmed at home as they continue to leave the flash drive in each other’s mailboxes. They do find ways to have fun with the social distancing theme; the video ends at a wider shot to show Joseph and Dun safely standing over six feet apart, quarantining next door to each other.

Lucia Arreola is an Entertainment Staff Writer. She can be reached at arreol1@uci.edu.