I'm Clifford Stumme, and I use literary analysis and research to explain the deeper meanings of pop songs. Feel free to leave a comment or to email me at with questions or ideas!

The Meaning of Blurryface's Album Cover

The Meaning of Blurryface's Album Cover

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Blurryface Album Cover Meaning

When Twenty One Pilots released Blurryface, they designed their album cover to be very symbolic and very cryptic just as Tyler Joseph promised. In an interview with Alternative Press, he says, "There are so many layers-both literally and in the meaning of the album cover-that are so important to Josh & I. We've worked very hard on it. We can't wait for you guys to discover it once you get your hands on it. But every element was very thought-through, and very intentional."

The Skeleton Clique's been trying to explain the album cover since it dropped a day early on May 18th, but the answer is still eluding most listeners.

So, I decided to throw my own theory into the mix.

Here it is:

 The album cover tells the story of the album itself.

1. At the top is the band's title, "Twenty One Pilots." The journey begins with them.

Blurryface Album Cover - Clifford Stumme
Blurryface Album Cover - Clifford Stumme

2. Then we have nine circles with a different design in each. Each circle stands for a different song on the album-a song that means something especially important to the journey through the album. Tyler said (I can't find where again) that the album was a comprehensive whole, in which all of the songs belong together as a unit.

But which circle represents which song? Tyler and Josh Dun have done most of the work for us. They and Fueled by Ramen have released audio and music videos for the songs on YouTube, the last nine coming out two days ago. Each of the audio videos contains the sound of the song and a black-and-white picture of a pattern. And guess what...


Thus... (from left to right and up to down)

Circle #1 = Heavydirtysoul

Circle #3 = Ride  [Twenty One Pilots released a video on Instagram that contained a portion of "Ride" and this image in white. They released a similar video for "Lane Boy," the texture of which matched the texture on YouTube.]

Ride Artwork - Twenty One Pilots - Clifford Stumme
Ride Artwork - Twenty One Pilots - Clifford Stumme

Circle #4 = Polarize

Circle #5 = Doubt

Circle #9 = Goner

This leaves four circles unnamed, and when you eliminate the audio videos that don't have patterns from the album cover, that leaves only three songs, which I admit is a problem. (Solution: The "Lane Boy" pattern from YouTube looks similar to the sixth circle but not identical. It could be added to the three.)

Of course, this theory also puts songs out of order on the album, notably switching "Polarize" and "Doubt."

As for continuing to guess circles, here's my best attempt, but I could really use your help. Please comment below if you find more evidence or have a guess about which song goes where on the album cover.

Circle #2 = Stressed Out [I know it's proven that order doesn't really matter with these circles, but I decided to hazard a guess of it here. "Stressed Out" is second on the album, and this is the second circle.]

Circle #6 = Lane Boy (Maybe Tear in My Heart) [The pattern in the circle looks similar but not identical to the one on the audio video for "Lane Boy." Though the embroidered texture seems more like something that would have to do with a song about tearing.]

Circle #7 = Tear in My Heart [Based on elimination. Honestly, this is a wild guess-maybe it's actually "Lane Boy."]

Circle #8 = Fairly Local[In the music video, Tyler's voice drops to become Blurryface's while he's singing in a red-lit room. In the AltPress article mentioned above, Tyler says that red stands for Blurryface, and this circle is red, so there's a chance at least.]


Once you make it through the songs, you come to the word "Blurryface" crossed through, except for the "U," which Reddit user DJTorch26 pointed out. I think Blurryface being at the bottom signifies that the album is meant to reveal Blurryface and to suggest that the audience that it is addressed to may find part of themselves in Blurryface or part of him in them.

Once Twenty One Pilots has made it through the songs and what they have to say, they can finally deal with Blurryface.

[Note: I've been informed that the hard copy album actually gives away which song is which pattern, which is totally awesome and news for all of us who got it on MP3. Anyone want to spill the beans for the rest of us? Which is which? Also, any ideas behind what the patterns mean or why two circles are red? Thanks!]

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