Twenty One Pilots charted at No. 213 in 2019's edition of Halvy's Hot 100 with a grand total of 5 listens. In 2020, it took them until February 8th to register a listen; it was 10:22 a.m. that cold Saturday morning when their song The Hype came on as I escaped the city limits of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. After that there were 13 more listens in the month of February, six more in March, five more in April and two in May. Then things started picking up in June.
99 listens in June turned into an incredible 659 listens in July. No longer did I just think of them as the Tear In My Heart and Heathens band as you might be tempted to. As I listened to all three of their record label released albums, it became clear how talented this band is. What started out as just an obsession with Trench quickly developed into deep dives into Blurryface and Vessel, with Vessel featuring the No. 1 song of 2020 Car Radio, which was the only song to reach the triple-digit listen mark this year.
Car Radio's lyrics with vocalist Tyler Joseph's haunting delivery combine multiple genres and emotions to form a song that is easy to listen to on repeat. Soft spoken rapping at the beginning give way to ironic screams about sitting in silence, making it hard not to get sucked into the power written about something so simple--Joseph's car radio getting stolen.
Twenty One Pilots put so much of themselves into these songs and craft each word to perfection. Joseph's struggles with mental illness have produced some amazing music, and the more I dig back into his solo catalog and the band's two independently released album's, the more fall in love with his music. Joseph and drummer Josh Dun also put on tremendous live performances, and one of my greatest regrets in life was choosing not to see them a couple years ago. Believe me, I will not miss the next opportunity to see this incredibly talented duo.
After years of Shinedown and Shawn Mendes going back and forth between one and two, Twenty One Pilots soared to the top this year with only seven months of consistent play. Congratulations to the top artist of 2021, Twenty One Pilots.