twenty one pilots love nothing better than leaking their own music. I face a moral dilemma when this occurs because, as a fan, I have always been an advocate for waiting until the official release of my favourite bands’ music. But then I think about the reasoning behind my motives and I realise that it’s all in the name of supporting them and, if they are leaking it themselves, surely listening to it before the official release is supporting them, right?
So when their new song Heathens leaked, I caved. Not that I can say I tried particularly hard to resist – within seconds of having WiFi back, I was on YouTube searching for an upload that I could listen to on repeat for 6 hours until it was available for me to buy on iTunes later that evening.
“I wish I found some better sounds no one’s ever heard.
I wish I had a better voice to sing some better words,
I wish I found some chords in an order that is new,
I wish I didn’t have to rhyme every time I sang.
I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink,
But now I’m insecure, and I care what people think.”
“I wish I wrote a different song that no one ever heard,
I wish my mom would just admit she’s sick of every word,
Overplayed, over stayed, it was a smash hit,
Funny how overplayed songs sound like crap,
I was told our true fans don’t like this song,
But I hope they sing along. I hope they sing along.”
The change in lyrics is, to me, an acknowledgement of the feelings that so-called ‘true fans’ have expressed about twenty one pilots’ unexpected and sudden rise to fame after Stressed Out was released. I have noticed a number of older fans voicing their concerns that new fans don’t understand true meaning behind the songs that have helped them through difficult times over the years. Tyler Joseph – the band’s songwriter – has often expressed his discomfort with fame and these new lyrics suggest that the fans’ reactions has only exacerbated the anxiety he is feeling. I hear a plea to accept the fame and to stick with them despite the worries they have that the true meaning is lost on new fans. It’s a plea to not give up on them.
Heathens expands on this. An entire song asking these old fans to give the new ones the benefit of the doubt and for the new ones to give us time to be cautious before embracing them into the Skeleton Clique. Everyone can seem shallow on the outside – only listening to a song because it’s popular or because it’s catchy and sounds cool – but just as we don’t always overtly talk about our issues, so might be the case with these people. It is urging all of us to understand that each of us has endured something that has ultimately drawn us to a band that uses their fame to let people know it’s okay not to be okay.
“All my friends are heathens take it slow,
Wait for them to ask you who you know,
Please don’t make any sudden moves,
You don’t know the half of the abuse.”
The new track conveys a certain understanding from the perspective of both the old and the new fans and I think that how you read into it will depend on which group you feel that you belong to. The older fans have issues with trusting that the new fans are real and true and have good intentions. The new fans don’t understand why we can’t see that they need this band just as much as anyone else.
As always, twenty one pilots have something to say and, as always, I am reminded that music is more than just pretty sounds. I feel encouraged to give people a chance to show that they do understand the music and to see that when we peel back the layers, they are just like us. Ultimately I think Tyler and Josh are fighting for the dissolution of an ‘us’ and a ‘them’.
“And now they’re outside ready to bust,
It looks like you might be one of us.”
In short, the song is a total jam. I am never let down by this band and their ability to write songs that don’t just sound incredible but also always have a deeper meaning for people to look into that is undoubtedly going to inspire. As a fan that has seen them 8 times over the past 2 and a half years, I am never bored and always surprised by the masterpieces this band produces, both on record and on stage.
Heathens is available on iTunes/Apple Music and Spotify now and is a part of Suicide Squad: The Album featuring other artists such as Panic! at the Disco, Grimes, Eminem, and Action Bronson available from August 5th following the movie’s NZ release date on August 4th.
- “Purple Lamborghini” – Skrillex & Rick Ross
- “Sucker For Pain” – Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons (with Logic, Ty Dolla $ign & X Ambassadors)
- “Heathens” – twenty one pilots
- “Standing In The Rain” – Action Bronson & Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys) (feat. Mark Ronson)
- “Gangsta” – Kehlani
- “Know Better” – Kevin Gates
- “You Don’t Own Me” – Grace (feat. G-Eazy)
- “Without Me” – Eminem
- “Wreak Havoc” – Skylar Grey
- “Medieval Warfare” – Grimes
- “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Panic! At The Disco
- “Slippin’ Into Darkness” – War
- “Fortunate Son” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
- “I Started a Joke” – ConfidentialMX (feat. Becky Hanson)