Tuesday, February 09, 2016
"My name's Blurryface and I care what you think"
I've not read a peep about this song - last week at #3 in the US 100 - from the serious commentariat. Which is odd because even as an annoyance you'd think it had some text-generative potential. twenty one pilots seem to have been deemed not worthy of consideration.... literally beneath contempt in the sense of not even deserving to be actively despised!
For sure, I hated "Stressed Out" on the first radio hearing too. But by the third I'd decided it has a certain gauche genius - the missing link between "Thrift Store" and New Muzik, via emo and White Town. A catchiness not limited to the melody but the phrasing, the texture, the unique dinky toy-music atmosphere.
Strangely, it was a medium-size hit last May and then came back - rereleased, or just resurged? - to penetrate the upper reaches of Billboard. I was thinking it might go all the way - become 2016's "Somebody That I Used To Know" : ubiquitous, long-lasting. But this week it has slipped to #4. Maybe just a blip.
The long player it's from, Blurryface, reached Number One on its release last spring. It's some kind of concept album. I've yet to really get to grips with the concept, or indeed its contents, beyond a sense that "Stressed Out" is not a fluke.
The lyrics to "Stressed Out" - touching on belatedness syndrome, nostalgia, the lost promise of outer space - stray into Retromania territory:
I wish I found some better sounds no one's ever heard,
I wish I had a better voice that sang some better words,
I wish I found some chords in an order that is new
Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol' days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we're stressed out.
Used to dream of outer space but now they're laughing at our face,
Saying, "Wake up, you need to make money."