There’s a type of obsession associated with fans and their favorite musicians but that’s not the type of obsession I’m talking about here. I’m not talking about the fanaticism that comes with the likes of Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber. Do I jam those two without hesitation? Of course. I’m not too proud (in this sphere, at least) to admit that.
What I’m referring to is more of a connection. Not an obsession, but a fusion of souls with humans you’ve never encountered, yet everything inside of you gravitates towards them. The words they speak, you feel. Everything relates to what you feel. Relates to the hooks they’ve crafted, the melodies in the bridge, the lyrics within each and every verse of each and every song. Every chord progression. Every spoken word. Everything. That’s what I’m talking about.
Let’s bring it back down.
Music is my life. I can’t play any instrument per se(though that’s on the to-do list for a redo, as many attempts have equated in less-than-admirable results), but it’s something I cannot live without. Something needed in my day-to-day. It’s my air. It’s my water. It’s my pulse. Somehow, it adds into my purpose.
See, life is hard. There are mountains that exist solely just to keep you barricaded and stumped. There are people who have ill intentions and end up crushing what feels like every fiber of your being. Things will happen, friendships will crumble, rip and entirely combust at the seams. There will be times when you battle with yourself—a battle between your heart and/or your mind—and you’ll feel completely isolated, alone, and abandoned.Bet you felt like the only thing that didn’t leave your side was music.
For me specifically, my battle with heart and mind is one of severe anxiety with a (hearty) side of panic disorder. This is something I’ve unknowingly battled my entire life, and thanks to a certain former non-ex ex (dating is fun), I was able to realize I had gone too far crossed too many lines, and didn’t have my mind and soul understood or under control. My life was consumed with anxiety and panic attacks. I felt alone. Then…there was Twenty One Pilots. If you don’t know anything about these guys, here’s a brief related overview: The lead singer, Tyler Joseph, openly battles with anxiety and hyper self-awareness. When I was at this low point (once again, shout out to the non-ex ex), they fell into my lap; right into the palm of my hand and the center of my soul, as if to throw a life-saver to keep me from drowning. Did they know this? No. And from listening to their album breakdowns on Spotify, I realized there were many who felt the same. Many who related to the struggle of simply existing on the world, let alone the stresses and anxiety that come with it. To Tyler and Josh, drummer and sole other member of the band, it’s not about making music for people to blast on the radio and dance to, or even music for people to request and like on Top 40. It’s not about telling a bullshit story about the silver lining behind every breakdown.
It’s mid-anxiety attack.
It’s the battles within our minds that we, as imperfect humans, face.
“…we realized that once you’re honest and you say some of the things that you’re going through, you realize there’s a lot of people thinking the same thing.”-Tyler Joseph
He hit the nail on the head with sheer perfection and precision. When you’re in that place, that dark place, it’s reassuring to know there are others at different ages, different stages in their careers and lives and etc., who also struggle. Who also feel the loneliness take over.
The lyrics within Twenty One Pilots’ songs quite literally and metaphorically save your life in those moments. Why? Because they’re about the human condition. They take away the glitz and BS that’s ever-present in the music industry, and are using music as an outlet. As a mental sanctuary. As a therapy session. As a reminder that life can be hard, but when you’re honest and look around, you’re not the only one who’s felt that way.
Disclaimer: “the human condition” was in no way my genius creation. I wish I could take credit for it because it’s just that—genius. If you’re a follower of his music, you’ll know the reference. If not, “The Human Condition” is Jon Bellion’s 4th (yet first commercial) album, where he covers topics from self-doubt, fear of failing, and paranoia to relationships, sex, and…God.
Who in their right mind enters an industry micro-monitored and managed by C-Suiters, and creates album after album where these themes are consistently showcased on a grand scale?
Jon Bellion, that’s who.
Bellion has (clearly) done things differently within the industry, but that’s not entirely what I’m getting at. Simply naming an album, “The Human Condition” kind of says it all: this record is going to ride through the triumphs, confusion, fear, anger and temptation that comes with simply existing in this world; simply existing as a human being.
He, like Twenty One Pilots, is raw.
He is genuine.
He is everything music has needed.
And his music? His music is everything we, as humans, need to revel in.
Face it: being a human is hard. Life is beautiful, don’t get me wrong; but it’s a beautiful cluster fuck at that. The industry candy coats the bad and praises a glamorized reality. But you know what? It’s no service to anyone when that reality is doused in chocolate with a cherry on top.
My struggle is simply managing my existence. Of accepting that everything can’t and never will be presented with a cherry on top. The OCD control freak in me that screams for structure that battles with my inability to keep my feet on the ground and my head out of the clouds. What helps—truly, genuinely, and wholeheartedly helps—is getting lost in the lyrical world of Tyler, Josh, and Jon. Getting entranced by their authenticity, allowing myself to feel the negative emotions I’d been suppressing in attempt to keep it at 100 24/7. Because one of the hardest things to accept is that we are never going to always be OK. We’re never going to always make it out alive and unharmed alone. We can’t be the silver lining’s of the world all the time. Twenty One Pilots and Jon Bellion showed me that. They not only showed me that you can’t be, but also that it’s OK that you can’t. They’re the perfect reminder of this. The prime example that this life stuff—it’s rough. Lust is real, but so is love. Substance abuse is real, but so is mental illness. Negativity is a ever-present part of life, and as much it sucks—it’s essential. It’s a part of being human. It’s the struggle we all go through. These are the realities we all face,and the world needs to be reminded of this. You need to be reminded of this. Hell, I need to remember this. In the golden words of Kehlani, “It’s OK to not think you’re fine or that you should feel any better.”
Fight it all you want, but you probably won’t get very far in that battle. That’s reality. Shit sucks sometimes, and you don’t always have to snap out of it. You don’t have to ignore it. You don’t have to suppress it. It’s all just a part of the human condition; a constant reminder from _____ to forget your pride and feel. Confide in a friend. Confide in a pen and paper. Confide in the music. I’ll be the first to admit that the whole owning up to your feelings, weaknesses, and breakdowns is hard. It’s uncomfortable. But with the likes of Twenty One Pilots, Jon Bellion and others who see what you see and feel what you feel speaking organically on the human experience as it truly is…we can swallow the pride that says it’s not OK to have a bad day, week, or month. That it’s not OK to suffer from mental illness.
Though it may seem ugly, it’s these imperfections; these self-proclaimed flaws that make life (and you) so beautiful. It’s what makes us relatable. It’s what unifies us. It’s what grounds us. When the real in musicians recognizes the real in the world; there’s unity and understanding. There’s acceptance. There’s connection. And that…that is beauty.