Today’s Song: “Ode To Sleep” by Twenty One Pilots

Twenty One Pilots

Like them or not, Twenty One Pilots are cool. The musical duo of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun defies all forms of old and new school genre classification, combining elements from electronic, indie pop, rock, and hip-hop music to create something that is truly not just a blend of other musical styles, but a style in and of itself. Twenty One Pilots are their own genre.

Listen: “Ode To Sleep” – Twenty One Pilots


Ode To Sleep,” the opening track to Twenty One Pilots’ 2013 label debut Vessel (Fueled by Ramen), epitomizes the act’s unique (and formidable) sound. The song’s entrance has a strong electronic influence, with a raw synth and drum kit creating an increasingly heavy environment. It’s the perfect atmosphere for dubstep or rap, and the latter wins: The weight of the music momentarily subsides to turn full attention toward Joseph. With an Eminem-like flow, the singer adds a dark twinge to the scene as he describes his daily slip from happiness following a peaceful awakening:

I wake up fine and dandy
But then by the time I find it handy
To rip my heart apart and start
Planning my crash landing…

Twenty One Pilots

Twenty One Pilots: Creating a lively genre unto themselves.

The electronic accompaniment grows in complexity around Joseph as his rap-singing gains depth and color. His words are vivid, and the intense music seems well-suited to the words.

I don’t wanna be the one
To have the sun’s blood on my hands
I’ll tell the moon
Take this weapon, forged in darkness
Some see a pen, I see a harpoon

The music hits its peak at “harpoon,” and after resting there for a few beats, “Ode To Sleep” transitions into the pre-chorus/bridge bearing a new musical identity. It’s like a Hitchcock film with a Woody Allen twist: Joseph vows to “stay awake, ’cause the dark’s not taking prisoners tonight,” and the synthesizer becomes a vessel of light, with major, melodic loops that are reminiscent of ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky.” It is during this pre-chorus that Joseph asks the song’s essential question: “Why am I not scared in the morning?” Joseph is singing in his full, clear tenor at this point:

Why am I not scared in the morning?
I don’t hear those voices calling
I must have kicked them out
I swear I heard demons yelling
Those crazy words they were spelling
They told me I was gone

Twenty One Pilots

This imagery leads “Ode To Sleep” into its chorus, where Joseph sings out against his darkness as if it’s a demonic being wrestling for control over his emotional psyche. This is a full-blown indie pop chorus, with jingling piano keys and rock drums. “Ode To Sleep” seems very much like a completely different song. Joseph sings out, loud like Cold War Kids’ Nathan Willett and emotive like The Royal Concept’s David Larson.

But I tell ’em
Why won’t you let me go
Do I threaten all your plans?
I’m insignificant
Please tell ’em
You have no plans for me
I will set my soul on fire
What have I become?

This is the climactic indie pop moment – the feel-good chorus, where the narrator is fighting for his life and the audience is throwing their hands in the air. The skin’s been ripped off, and the energy is once again reaching a pinnacle. Much like the electronic/hip-hop’s climax, the chorus’ end holds steady for a few beats, soaking in those last bits of warmth and jubilance before smoothly nosediving into electronic beats and a second, rapped verse.

Twenty One Pilots’ “Ode To Sleep” finds a narrator wrought with anxiety and depressive thoughts taking solace in, and paying literal tribute to, sleep and waking – two states in which he feels unencumbered by the dark feelings that develop within him throughout the day. The two-sided music feels unnatural – and it should to most, as indie pop and electronic hip-hop are not even distantly related – but the genre-swapping of “Ode To Sleep” fits its plot’s disorder nicely. The swooping changes in the music mimic the emotional roller coaster purportedly experienced by the narrator.

Some listen to this song and attach themselves to Tyler Joseph’s impressive rap skills. Others listen to “Ode To Sleep” for its anthemic pop chorus’ emotional release. I listen for both, because this song thrives off the disparity of its parts. “Ode To Sleep” is a truly unique and exciting song.

Twenty One Pilots

What is perhaps even more impressive than their ability to defy genre is Twenty One Pilots’ successful development of a sound that is cohesive and all their ownVessel is unmistakably a Twenty One Pilots record through and through: A Jackson Pollock-esque smattering of electronic, indie pop, rock, and hip-hop all together, sometimes blended as if by a juicer, and sometimes laid atop one another like oil and vinegar. For those who need classification, Twenty One Pilots can probably be best categorized as an indie pop/rock’ band for their utilization of pop/rock song structures and preference for anthemic choruses, but don’t be surprised by the curveballs they throw. Expect the unexpected when listening to this band.

Twenty One Pilots’ highly anticipated follow-up to Vessel, a new album entitled Blurryface, is due out later this month! If you like “Ode To Sleep,” listen to the rest of Vessel below and check out Twenty One Pilots’ new songs “Stressed Out” and “Tear In My Heart” from Blurryface – expected May 19.

If you think the music’s good, you’ll also be pleased to know that Twenty One Pilots are freaking incredible in concert. Check out the live video of “Ode To Sleep” to see just how crazy these two get on stage.

Watch: “Ode To Sleep (Live at Newport Music Hall)” – Twenty One Pilots

 

Listen: Vessel (album) – Twenty One Pilots

Twenty One Pilots ("Car Radio" screenshot)

Twenty One Pilots often perform while wearing black and white masks.

Twenty One Pilots live Ode To Sleep

“Ode To Sleep” – Twenty One Pilots

 I wake up fine and dandy
But then by the time I find it handy
To rip my heart apart and start
Planning my crash landing

I go up, up, up, up, up to the ceiling
Then I feel my soul start leaving

Like an old man’s hair receding
I’m pleading, “Please, oh please!”
On my knees repeatedly asking
Why it’s got to be like this
Is this living free?

I don’t wanna be the one
To have the sun’s blood on my hands
I’ll tell the moon

Take this weapon, forged in darkness
Some see a pen, I see a harpoon

I’ll stay awake
Cause the dark’s not taking prisoners tonight

Why am I not scared in the morning?
I don’t hear those voices calling

I must have kicked them out
I must have kicked them out

I swear I heard demons yelling
Those crazy words they were spelling
They told me I was gone
They told me I was gone

But I tell ’em
Why won’t you let me go
Do I threaten all your plans?
I’m insignificant

Please tell ’em
You have no plans for me
I will set my soul on fire
What have I become?

On the eve of a day that’s forgotten and fake
As the trees, they await, and clouds anticipate
The start of a day when we put on our face
A mask that portrays that we don’t need grace

On the eve of a day that is bigger than us
But we open our eyes, cause we’re told that we must

And the trees wave their arms and the clouds try to plead
Desperately yelling, “There’s something we need!”

I’m not free, I asked forgiveness three times
Same amount that I denied, I three-time MVP’d this crime

I’m afraid to tell you who I adore
Won’t tell you who I’m singing towards
Metaphorically, I’m a whore, and that’s denial number four

I’ll stay awake
Cause the dark’s not taking prisoners tonight

Why am I not scared in the morning?
I don’t hear those voices calling

I must have kicked them out
I must have kicked them out

I swear I heard demons yelling
Those crazy words they were spelling
They told me I was gone
They told me I was gone

But I’ll tell ’em
Why won’t you let me go
Do I threaten all your plans?
I’m insignificant

Please tell ’em
You have no plans for me
I will set my soul on fire
What have I become?

I’m sorry

source 

Vessel – Twenty One Pilots

Blurryface – Twenty One Pilots

Pre-Order Blurryface (5/19/2015) – Twenty One Pilots on iTunes 

Learn more about Twenty One Pilots online at www.twentyonepilots.com
Like Twenty One Pilots on Facebook  /  Follow Twenty One Pilots on Twitter

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com