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At one of their most recent concerts, Twenty One Pilots front man Tyler Joseph changed things up a bit by satirically changing one of the verses of the song to play on commonly repeated qualms over their hit song “Stressed Out”; most notably the fact that it has become overplayed in its radio circulation. The original verse which went “I wish I found some better sounds no ones ever heard / I wish I had a better voice to sing some better words / I wish I found some chords in an order that was new / I wish I didn’t have to rhyme every time I sang / I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink, but now I’m insecure and I care what people think”  was subsequently, to the surprise and appreciation of the crowd, changed to “I wish my mom would just admit she’s sick of every word / Overplayed overstayed it was a smash hit / funny how overplayed songs sound like crap / I was told that our true fans don’t like this song, but I hope they sing along, I hope they sing along”. Inserted casually and meant to be funny, this is interesting in how true it really is. Where most bands might ignore such criticisms from their fans, or fight back the idea that they have sold out and criticize the fans in turn for not being supportive. It has the power to turn dramatic very quickly, but Joseph and his fellow performer Josh Dun decided to handle it with grace. Having been around to see the effects of our generations radio compulsion on other performers, they know full well how the radio can turn gold to rust very quickly. From a fans perspective it feels like you are being heard and that the duo understands. But, in all honesty, though they may feel a true fans pain, how much can the band actually do about it?

Now this is a refreshingly honest take on the radio spin cycle from a band who one would assume was reaping the benefits of it, when in reality they may be reaping more consequences than we think. Over the past couple of years, a variety of songs have shot up in popularity and notoriety through consistent radio play – yet when does repetitive radio play become too much? If one looks at songs such as “Stressed Out”, Pharrell’s “Happy” and a variety of other songs, the trend is much more noticeable in recent years. In its heyday there were times when one could switch between three different radio stations and hear “Happy” on at the same time. Once a song hailed as original, it soon became the target of ridicule and annoyance as it polluted the airwaves. A similar fate seems to be destined for a song like “Stressed Out”, maybe not as vehemently as it did to “Happy”, but along the same lines.

One may argue that, for a band like Twenty One Pilots, the consistent radio play helped the group reach out beyond their die-hard fan base and touch the ears of those who may not have been previously interested in alternative music. Likewise, it can be deemed somewhat as an accomplishment from a band who previously was receiving no radio play at all. Do these benefits then reap enough rewards to cancel out the fall out that comes from too much exposure? It is a complicated landscape that begins positively, bringing new and exciting music to a larger audience, only to decline by turning great music sour.

Despite all of this the question still remains – does the radio spin cycle, in the end, hurt artists more than help them? As can be seen by such songs, the radio has the power to turn unique or catchy songs into hated pieces that only inspire people to groan or change stations. It is a problem that makes record labels smile and bands cringe. The success of a bands hit single and or hit album brings in more cash flow and notoriety for their label, while subsequently affecting the relationship, as pointed out, between fans and the band. It is a system that is flawed and oversaturated through playing the same music over and over again to the point where it becomes stale. A possible solution could be opening up the pool – instead of playing the same songs over and over again, why not open up the floor to more artists, more music, and more originality. Instead of taking the spark away from great music, why not add more into the mix? The next great band, the next Twenty One Pilots may be out there somewhere and it shouldn’t take years and an overplayed single to find them.

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