Twenty-One Pilots is a Grammy award-winning duo with a ridiculous discography of work. Columbus, Ohio, may not be the first place you think to look for good music, but that’s where Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun are from. It’s not hard to hear why Pilots’ mellow and versatile hip-hop rap style appeals to so many listeners. In 2013, their album Vessel became the second album in history where every track received at least a gold certification. Although we’ve curated the ten best Twenty One Pilots songs of all time, it was incredibly difficult to narrow it down.
Giving up is no joke. Life is genuinely difficult, and it is far too easy to become a statistic. Truce is all about fighting n when you don’t want to. Emotions are temporary, but life is lasting. If anything, this song is a reminder to everyone that life is precious. It’s a ballad for the wounded soul with excellent piano and a modern feel that gives it a unique flavor.
You may recognize this from The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, where the band played live. As one Reddit user pointed out, the performance was utterly raw and totally unexpected. Before that performance, Heavydirtysoul was one of their less popular tunes. However, Twenty One Pilots took it as an opportunity to show off their musical prowess and their sheer powerful stage presence as they mesmerized the viewers with a visceral rendition of a song they clearly love to play.
8. Guns For Hands
Guns for Hands was released as a single in Japan, but not the US. Despite that odd marketing quirk, it’s another in a long line of excellent musical offerings from Twenty One Pilots. Like much of their music, this song takes on a mental health-related issue. In this case, the topic is self-harm, which is often covered up and swept under the rug. By bringing these issues to light and giving them a voice, Pilots is helping people feel seen and showing them that there’s another way to deal with pain.
Creativity is often described as fickle. The ability and impetus to create are very dual-sided. Doubts like imposter syndrome and fears of failure by with the incredible highs that an artist gets from the creative process when it’s going well. Chlorine is both cleansing and killing, depending on how you use it. This is a song about the nature of songwriting and creation. According to Medium’s Metamorfia, the monster in the video personifies those negative emotions.
Polarize is about bipolar disorder. Opening up about severe mental health issues is never easy. The stigma attached to being ‘crazy’ in America is worse than the disorder by far, and the stigma is untreated. Well, that’s not entirely true. Treating the stigma that stops people from seeking potentially life-saving treatment and help is the same as fighting it. By making music about such an underserved yet widespread issue, this is more than a song, it is a demand for social change and an act of bravery.
5. Stressed Out
The old saying about the grass being greener somewhere else has a modern psychological equivalent in this song. While the Stressed Out video shows adult-sized Big Wheels and has a childish sense of fun, the lyrics are another story entirely. Most kids, at some point, wish they were older because they think it means they won’t have worries and will magically gain total control of their lives. Alternately, adults wish they could step back to a time when their problems were simpler and less overwhelming. Sadly, your stress level has nothing to do with age, though the triggers for frustration mature over time.
If you only know one song by Twenty One Pilots, first that is sad, and second, it’s Heathens. The YouTube video alone has over a billion and a half views as of this publication. The popularity of this particular track comes from inclusion in the Suicide Squad movie. This track’s slow, melodic quality exemplifies the sheer musical diversity of a band that is already hard to classify at best.
3. Holding On To You
Depression is a common theme for Tyler and Twenty One Pilots. Holding On to You isn’t about someone else. Instead, it is about fighting yourself. A tangible outside force is far easier to fight than your own instincts. Especially when your own brain chemistry is the enemy. The religious overtones here are very intentional, as is the hopeful message. Both Tyler and Josh were raised by religious parents who initially suppressed their creative urges and steered them toward a specific Christian perspective. Faith versus personal urges and desires is a common struggle when your experience tells you that they are at odds.
Trees is more than a great song because it may be the oldest of all Twenty One Pilots Songs. According to Lyric Interpretations, Tyler wrote this song when he was still in high school. To have such a powerful voice while you’re still basically a child is incredible. Moreover, expressing your anxiety, fear, and desire to connect with a higher power in a relatable, non-preachy way is hard at any age.
1. Car Radio
Car Radio is number one on a huge list of truly amazing songs. The memorable sound has his voice taking the spotlight and the music a mere supporting role despite its excellence is a powerful sound. The feeling of missing something, negative or suicidal thoughts, and ‘battling fear’ is universal. Writing a unique song, easy to listen to but hard to hear once you grasp the meaning and yet utterly evocative of the human condition, is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Listening to Twenty One Pilots genre-defying music is easy on the ears even as the lyrics tug at your heart. The blend of indie, electro-pop, pop, and more in a rap-ish, punk-ish, hip hop-ish package wrapped in drums and piano comes as naturally to these guys as breathing water does to a fish. It’s easy to bop to the beat of most 21P songs, but the real value is in the thoughtful lyric choices. Play each song twice. The first time you can just dance, but after that listen to the quality dramatically lyrical center of the songs.