Stressed Out?

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our mama sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

Millennial neuroticism and nostalgia are perfectly captured in “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots. I realize that it’s an older song (came out in 2015), but lately, it’s been played on the radio every five minutes on every station, and there’s probably a reason for that: we can relate.

As millennials, we’re always getting teased for being that lazy, entitled generation, so why should we whine about being stressed out? All we do is couch-surf and binge-watch the old Nicktoons in our pajamas as we’re munching on avocado toast, right?

In the song, the sources of stress seem to be needing to “wake up and make money” and caring about what others think (also, a lack of mothers to sing us to sleep—instead, we have the Twenty One Pilots). Sounds kind of strange for a famous band that probably makes millions of dollars a year to be whining about having to make money, but at least they’re keeping it real.

As for caring about what others think, these lyrics bother me:

I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink
But now I’m insecure and I care what people think

Indeed, your childish fears do shrink, but they are replaced by different kinds of fears. It’s no longer the monster under your bed: it’s the IRS. It’s no longer being bullied at school: it’s being laid off from work. However, when you’re a child, you are less able to do something about your fears. As an adult, you have a little more control over your own destiny than you once did. (But make no mistake: no one is ever completely in control of anything.)

Feeling “secure” in oneself is supposed to come with age and time, so I’m wondering why the main character in the song is still worried about what others think, more so than when he was younger. Perhaps it’s because of that major stressor affecting millennials: social media and the resulting comparison of oneself to others based on very limited and biased evidence.

My advice to the people my age: Keep doing what you love. Don’t use social media to excess. Find some way to express yourself in a constructive way. Come back to church. Do some soul-searching. We do have a mama to sing us to sleep.

 

It Just Screams “Soundtrack”

I would say that “Heathens” by Twenty One Pilots is the most different song on the radio right now, probably because it isn’t about love or sex and it has a grunge vibe that hearkens back to the 1990s. The song is on the soundtrack of Suicide Squad, which I didn’t see because it is an action movie geared toward teenage boys and 20-something men (AKA a genre I am thoroughly sick of). Even before I knew the song had been on a movie soundtrack, I thought that it sounded appropriate for that purpose because of its dark, dramatic undertone and that weird crunchy guitar sound that got clearer and clearer during the song until it became “Watch it!”

I don’t know if “Heathens” was written specifically for the movie, but it certainly seems like it was. Suicide Squad is about a bunch of misfits from a secret government agency who are tasked with (big surprise—it’s a superhero movie) saving the world. They’re all crazy, they’re all “heathens,” and they’re all apparently ready to snap at the drop of a hat. I also imagined that “Heathens” would be the perfect song for a story I wrote, but the story takes place in 2012, and having a song from 2016 in the soundtrack would be just a tiny bit of an anachronism.

On a more negative note, it’s a little sad that “Heathens” won a Grammy for Best Rock Song when it seems to be light rock or rap-rock at best. What happened to the days of “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” “Big Empty,” and “Better Man“? (Hey, allow me to have a little millennial nostalgia.) 🙂