New Twenty One Pilots single breaks away from industry norms, returns to origins

Screenshot+from+Twenty+One+Pilots%E2%80%99+music+video+for+%E2%80%9CChoker%2C%E2%80%9D+featuring+frontman+Tyler+Joseph+and+drummer+Josh+Dun.+Released+on+April+21%2C+%E2%80%9CChoker%2C%E2%80%9D+features+distinct+influences+from+their+first+two+albums+%E2%80%9CSelf-Titled%E2%80%9D+and+%E2%80%9CRegional+At+Best.%E2%80%9D+Along+with+these+influences%2C+%E2%80%9CChoker%E2%80%9D+continues+Twenty+One+Pilots%E2%80%99+reputation+of+breaking+away+from+mainstream+norms+in+the+music+industry.

Screenshot via YouTube (twenty one pilots)

Screenshot from Twenty One Pilots’ music video for “Choker,” featuring frontman Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun. Released on April 21, “Choker,” features distinct influences from their first two albums “Self-Titled” and “Regional At Best.” Along with these influences, “Choker” continues Twenty One Pilots’ reputation of breaking away from mainstream norms in the music industry.

Known for their darker themes and heavy sounds at the height of their career, Twenty One Pilots has brought in a new but still nostalgic perspective to their most recent songs. 

From its composition to its sound, ‘Choker’ is the perfect continuation of bringing the band back to its beginnings.”

— Staff Writer Joslyn Weber

Circling back to their roots has been a growing pattern as frontman Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun continue to release new music. “Shy Away,” released on April 7, started the return to sounds and themes first found on “Self-Titled” (2009) and “Regional At Best” (2011).

Their most recent release, “Choker,” dives even deeper into those origins. From its composition to its sound, “Choker” is the perfect continuation of bringing the band back to its beginnings. 

Joseph creates a sort of lyrical parallel between “Self-Titled” and “Choker.” When he starts out the slow rap part of the song, it sounds eerily close to the same section in “Taxi Cab,” featured on their debut album. 

Although it’s not necessarily close to “Taxi Cab” in terms of lyrics, fans have noticed its similarities in sound. All the way down to Joseph’s pacing in the expression of the lyrics and his distinct enunciation of the words, the slow rap verse in “Choker” has clear elements of Twenty One Pilots’ “Self Titled” origins.

In the first album, most songs were mainly made up of slow raps and background music. It wasn’t the typical make-up of a song nowadays, consisting of specific components in which the audience could pinpoint exactly where the chorus was, where verses one and two and maybe even three were, and where the bridge began. 

‘Self-Titled’ was an album that stood out from what the norm was at the time in the music industry. “Choker” continues this same pattern.”

— Staff Writer Joslyn Weber

Instead, “Self-Titled” was a way for Joseph to talk to his audience and pour out whatever he was feeling at the time, making it an emotional and unique album. It was an album that stood out from what the norm was at the time in the music industry. “Choker” continues this same pattern.

Not only does the slow rap verse sound a heck of a lot like “Taxi Cab” and break away from what Twenty One Pilots’ image was like at the height of their career, the overall sound of “Choker” and its background noises sound equivalent to the nostalgic feeling of “Regional At Best.” 

In the verses, Joseph’s voice sounds semi-nasally and unusual for what Twenty One Pilots’ most recent sound has been. However, it is the most important aspect of the song and stems from their “Regional At Best” roots.

While it’s hard to put into words how Joseph’s voice in “Choker” sounds distinctly similar to the “Regional At Best” sound, it’s the only way to describe it and is more something for the listener to experience themselves. Every component of “Choker,” especially Joseph’s voice, makes it feel like it truly belongs on “Regional At Best.”

While being similar to “Self-Titled” in the way that it was an outlet for Joseph to talk to his audience and connect with them, “Regional At Best” was definitely an album of its own. Characterized by its upbeat and spirited sound, “Regional At Best” was a fresh view from what the music industry was experimenting with at the time.

“Choker” has been one step closer to Twenty One Pilots breaking not only modern norms in the music industry today but their own musical norms from the past. 

Fans will have to wait until the full release of “Scaled and Icy” on May 21 to see if the blending of old sounds and fresh ideas continues.

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