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"Level of Concern" by Twenty One Pilots

Updated: Aug 9

Illustration by Michelle Dong, referenced off of song cover

On April 9th, the famed musical duo known as Twenty One Pilots released their brand new single “Level of Concern”. Tyler Joseph, the writer and singer of the song, presents a unique take on current events by comparing the surreal feeling of being in a pandemic to the rush of being in love. Initially, the analogy seems unconventional to say the least. How could something as beautiful and passionate as the experience of falling in love be used to describe the fear and heartache eating at our population? At first glance, they seem to be worlds apart. But after fully evaluating its lyrics, it’s evident that the song’s execution does this comparison justice.


The first lines, “Things are starting to get heavy; I can’t help but think I haven’t felt this way since I asked you to go steady.” start the song off strongly and set the foundation for the message of the piece. The heaviness Tyler speaks of refers to the atmosphere that’s settled on the world since the mass spread of COVID-19. After a quarantine was established to prevent more cases of the disease, many felt their mental health declining, especially those with preexisting conditions. Tyler expresses the societal impact of other people’s panic on one’s mindset in the lines “Panic on the brain, Michael’s gone insane; Julie starts to make me nervous” and “I’m asking you to stay in my bunker underneath the surface”. Here he is referencing the anxiety that is not only brought on from internal worries but from the impact of media coverage and unknown circumstances about the coronavirus. With the world turned upside down, a secret hideaway (or in this case bunker) seems like a pretty good option at the moment. Emotions like worry, anxiety, and doubt began to arise--the same emotions that can be attributed to a romantic confession. The butterflies in one’s stomach or the second guesses that cross one’s mind when love related matters are involved can be overwhelming and scary.


Finally, the main phrase of the song brings the meaning home with a catchy and purposeful line, “ You could bring down my level of concern, just tell me we’re alright, tell me we’re okay”. The fear of not being accepted or possibly even losing someone you care about is based on uncertainty, and uncertainty is the very thing that is most prevalent in today’s world. Many of us have been thrusted into situations we have never before encountered, leaving us unsure of where to look next and how to regain control of our lives. However, the risk and rush of being vulnerable with someone you care for can also result in immense comfort and reciprocated love. In the same way that thoughts of the pandemic eventually passing has lifted spirits and kept hope alive, love can be a means of quelling one’s level of concern.



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