Columbus, Ohio natives Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun make up the duo known as twenty one pilots (and no, they don’t capitalize their name). Since 2009, they’ve been producing hit track after hit track, making their way to the top of various music charts, and touring not only the United States, but the globe. Their most recent record, ‘Blurryface’, has only expanded their collection of meaningful and emotionally resonant tracks, but to me, there is one song that stands out amongst the rest: The Judge.
Tyler and Josh are no strangers to tempo change; in fact, they seem to be huge fans of it! This track begins with a slow fade-in and then the gentle strumming of Tyler’s ukulele (in a soothing A minor, F, C, D minor pattern I might add). Combine this with a catchy tune from Tyler himself and already the song has me invested. The opening lyrics are almost like a poem: “When the leader of the bad guys sang, something soft and soaked in pain, I heard the echo from his secret hideaway...he must’ve forgot to close his door, as he cranked out those dismal chords, and his four walls declared him insane.” To me, this is a commentary on maintaining appearances vs letting your true feelings show, something that Tyler has admitted he struggles with on a daily basis. Then, it speeds up as the pre-chorus approaches.
Later, the track adds more electronics as the chorus blares: “You’re the judge, oh no, set me freeeee…” and the second verse starts with Tyler rapping a fast-paced confessional of sorts, with lines such as “I’m a pro at imperfections and I’m best friends with my doubt”. Once again delving into the deeply internal and personal, Tyler speaks of how he is always doubting himself despite the accolades that he receives daily. In some interviews, Josh and Tyler have both stated that although they’re proud of how far they’ve come, they are always striving to improve their skills and get better.
Another tempo change appears as the track slows down for the bridge. The lyrics are the same as the chorus, but with a much more “chilled out” feel to them, and then the tempo speeds up once again to finish the track off. It is interesting to note that at the 4:25 mark in the song, Tyler can be heard screaming “Josh Dun!” in the background, a funny gesture and testament to the friendship between the two of them.
So far, no music video has been released for ‘The Judge’, but once it is, you can bet that it will be nothing short of phenomenal. It is a song about battling inner demons, letting your true colors shine through, and working to improve yourself. If you haven’t listened to this musical journey yet, I’ve included a YouTube link on this article! Find out for yourself whether twenty one pilots is the new, intelligent band that you’ve been searching for.