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Welcome to the Pop Song Professor! My name's Clifford, and I explain song lyrics so that you can know what your artists are saying and can enjoy your music more. 

What does "Message Man" by Twenty One Pilots mean?

What does "Message Man" by Twenty One Pilots mean?

"Message Man" Lyrics Meaning

Upon first listen, "Message Man" seems to be a warning against those who think they can understand Twenty One Pilots' lead singer Tyler Joseph through what he writes in his song lyrics. While that may serve as a warning against what you probably just Googled and what I'm about to write, we shall continue. The 11th track on Blurryface means something, and we want to know what that is. [Future Cliff speaking here: I've just written the rest of this blog post. The song and its meaning are very worth discovering. Proceed with enthusiasm.] 

"Message Man" has a hint of a reggae beat to it, but most of the song is full of intense bass drum and organ focused on Tyler's chanting and rapping verses and choruses that warn audiences that "[t]hese lyrics aren't for everyone" and that "these are just triplets"; "[y]ou don't know my brain / The way you know my name." Whatever Tyler truly hopes the audience to get out of "Message Man," he wants them to recognize the differences between song, artist, and meaning as well as the difference between understanding lyrics and just hearing them.

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The Meaning of "Message Man"

After a few "Eh!'s," "No!'s," and "Yeah!'s," Tyler begins the first verse by singing that "[t]he loser hides behind / A mask of my disguise." The type of disguise-perhaps one of a nice and successful person-that Tyler uses hides a person who feels like a failure. In addition, "who I am today / Is worse than other times." Tyler's good at pretending to be someone he's not, but today he's feeling a little bit more true to the dark and hopeless part of himself. After establishing that, he sings, "You don't know what I've done / I'm wanted and on the run / So, I'm taking this moment to live in the future." Tyler is struggling, but hopes that his situation will improve.

In the chorus, he sings, "Release me from the present," and goes on to explain what he's experiencing: "I'm obsessing, all these questions." He's confused because he's "in denial / That they tried this suicidal session." "[T]his suicidal session" seems to be a reference to this song, since much of the rest of the song is self-referential and because Tyler has mentioned before that he uses his music to distract him from the painful questions he has.

He asks his listeners to "use discretion" when they're "messing with the message man" who appears to be Tyler himself. He wants listeners to not misuse his lyrics which "aren't for everyone." He warns that "[o]nly few understand." The rest need to be careful.

In the second verse, Tyler warns listeners that they don't actually know him: "You don't know my brain / The way you know my name / You don't know my heart / The way you know my face." People have seen his face and know his name-he's famous-but they don't know who he really is on the inside. They "don't know what [he's] done."

The bridge is an impressive rap that begins with "my people singing," which will be especially important in a live concert when Tyler is singing with fans. He continues rapping, "Hope you're dead 'cause how could you sleep at a time like this?" This is an important time to be awake and alive, and if people are sleeping, they've made a big mistake and need to pay attention.

Next, Tyler breaks apart the illusion of a song by becoming intensely self-aware ("meta" for some), saying that "we're all impressed by" when "[p]eople they rhyme like this"; "[t]hey rip it, they flip it, but these are just triplets." Tyler's saying that even though singers can be impressive, people need to realize that it's just music. There's something even more important happening than what Tyler "[w]rote . . . in three minutes, three words to a line."

But while "[i]t's just poetry divided, I'm the kind of guy / Who takes every moment, he knows he can fight it / And music to use it, for other to use it." Tyler wants his feelings to be expressed through this song so that listeners can be encouraged and so that he can help them to be strong. His struggles will show them that they're not alone and that he has experienced what they have.

Tyler sings that "[l]ife is up here," but his listeners "comment below." They're so busy thinking about the music and the song (possibly criticizing it, per Genius.com) while the meaning of the music is so much harder to understand. Tyler wants the music's message to lead people to life, not to spending more time obsessing over what he's written.

The next part's a little bit tricky, but when the "Message Man" says that "the comments will always become common / Motivation to promote your show's next episode," he seems to be referencing how people who create online content like comments because it means more interaction and higher return rates from their viewers (*hint* *hint). So the comments that Tyler's singing about are going to lead viewers to watch another episode of a show and remain in the creator's world instead of doing something themselves (per Genius.com).

This desire to just keep watching the next episode [sounds like me watching Lost on Netflix the past three nights] will lead people's "brain . . . to keep going even though hope / Is far from this moment . . ." These people just keep watching what others have done even though they don't know that they're nowhere near hope themselves. Tyler still wants to encourage them to go where life really is.

He says that things will get "getter when morning finally rears its head." There's a dawn coming and people will be able to overcome their inability to create and to simply survive without hope. Hope itself is coming in the future that Tyler wished for earlier, but its coming will entail loss: "Remember that morning is when night is dead." To gain hope, people will have to give up on the darker world they inhabit now, a transition which could be painful.

"Message Man" is a twisty and complicated song that would take several more blog posts to completely sort out, but the basic messages are still clear: Don't rely too heavily and don't dig too deeply into Tyler's songs to feel hope. Hope itself will come, and it may be hard to receive. Be strong.

What do you think "Message Man" from Twenty One Pilots' Blurryface is about? Did I oversimplify? There's a lot here, so what did you get out of it personally?

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