In Defense Of Blurryface: The Album About Overcoming Itself
I think Blurryface has become quite overhated, but why is that? Isn’t this technically an improvement on Vessel, not exactly better than Vessel, but there’s improvements all around, it’s more varied, it’s more theatrical and bombastic, Tyler sounds more confident in his delivery and presence on the album, the fact there’s actual bass also helps a lot on the songs while the hooks are perhaps catchier, the production on this album is also really amazing and way better than on previous records. More songs immediately stand out on Blurryface than on Vessel in terms of sound and it’s not that much more up it’s own ass than Vessel was give or take like 3 lines everyone cannot seem to shut up about.
So why do people act like this is just the most pretentious and hypocritical record of all time? This is an album about Tyler overcoming his anxiety fears and frustrations about himself, his music and the music industry as a whole. And on the surface it really feels pretentious and hypocritical but if you give it another go and try to look below the surface of *oh he’s just bitching about the radio* you’ll see that there’s quite a lot more to it than meets the eye.
The album at points does indeed try to aim at the industry and the radio for trying to define their sound or because they don’t play their songs on the radio and granted that’s pretentious... but he knows this, this is why the real villain of the album isn’t the industry he takes shots at but his insecurities about it and other things, Blurryface if you will, he doesn’t frame the industry as the villains on songs like Lane Boy because he knows he can’t get away with it and even addresses his own hypocrisy with the the line: “I'm in constant confrontation with what I want an' what is poppin'” showing that while he might say people are trying to put him in a “lane”, it’s really himself trying to put himself in this lane, it’s not so black and white, and while he rants on the song about how the industry works and what it promotes he also knows that the songs he’s referring to as “heartless” or “okay” on Tear In My Heart (and the artists behind them) will be forgotten which only serves to drive the drama of the record as the album past this point stops being about the industry and the radio but his fear of being forgotten as he realizes his own hypocrisy, it’s quite compelling actually.
In the very next song, The Judge, he paints the Judge as the listener, knowing that he’s not the one who can judge whether his music is gonna be a success or not, seen as commercial or not and how people will interpret their lyrics.
Doubt, which is one of the more commercial sounding tracks on the album, literally goes “don’t forget about me” in the chorus. I see that song as directly aimed at the listener as he expresses his insecurities. The first verse sees him afraid of who he’s becoming and his limitations and how those fears will be the death of him as they lead to anxiety. The chorus and quite a bit of the song is a plea to not be forgotten by his fans and the listeners alike.
Fairly Local is actually a lot better than people think lyrically imo, I like how Tyler wrote the 2 verses of the song so they directly contradict each other showing the 2 sides of himself and yes I will agree the pre chorus gets kinda cringey, at least when it’s with the pitch shifted vocals, I don’t think the “yo, this song will never be on the radio” thing is supposed to be taken as him going *OH MY MUSIC IS SO EXPERIMENTAL IT’LL NEVER REACH THE RADIO!* but more of his insecurity about it telling him it won’t make it. The song is in some ways an inner monologue/inner struggle.
On the 2nd to last song, Not Today, we finally see Tyler get his insecurities out of his life for a moment. I like how in the end of the song he uses like *bah bah bah*s to represent him ignoring his insecurities while on the closer we see him directly battling his insecurities, I’ve seen some people point this out and I think it’s quite interesting, so throughout the song you can kinda hear some noises in the background that are supposed to represent Blurryface and at the end when the instrumental abruptly ends you can’t hear that noise anymore showing that Tyler did win and the album ends on a triumphant note as he overcomes his insecurities.
Now if you think the album might be a bit too focused on the concept you’d be kinda wrong because there’s plenty of moments that aren’t really about “blurryface” or his insecurities about the music industry/being forgotten. Stressed Out, Ride and Tear In My Heart being pretty obvious examples, I just wanted to talk about it for a bit because I think people kinda sleep on the emotional arc of the album a bit too much.
But okay enough about the concept because that’s only half of it, let’s talk about the sound of this thing.
HeavyDirtySoul is one hell of a banger imo, I love how if you have the album on repeat you’ll notice that Goner directly leads into this track, I love when albums have things like this. The beat on the song is crazy good, Tyler’s rapping is really great on here and shows improvements over Vessel in terms of flow and delivery and while yes that “this is not rap” line is pretty bad I’ll admit, the lyrics aren’t actually that bad. The chorus of the song is really catchy and memorable. The bridge has one of my fav lines on the whole album “Death inspires me like a dog inspires a rabbit” which is a really interesting analogy about how death scares him and inspires him to run like a rabbit when seeing a dog.
Stressed Out is...yes overplayed to death, but also still a really great alternative pop/rap pop song about reminiscing about childhood and wanting to go back there. Ride is an excellent song about his fears and how they stop him from really living his life but, on the chorus, deciding to just take the ride slowly and live life at your own pace and not worrying too much about it. I love the beat, the chorus is extremely catchy and the reggae sound is done in a tasteful and fun way. Fairly Local has a really great dubstep-y trap beat and that chorus kicks all kinds of ass. Tyler goes off at the end of the song and I love it. Those background vocals sound really majestic and add a lot to the atmosphere, especially in the bridge. Love the strings on the last chorus, makes the song feel more cinematic.
Tear In My Heart is a somewhat basic piano driven pop-rock track but also an extremely energetic and fun one. Love the electronic beat that comes in on the last half of the song and while yes some of the lyrics on this are extremely dumb (“my taste in music is your safe”) they’re dumb in a kinda charming way tbh.
I love the vocal delivery on Lane Boy and the bass on this song is really great tbh. That drum n bass section on the 2nd half is quite great and the buildup is done really well to give the song a lot of momentum. The drum solo that closes out the song is also pretty nice.
I love the ominous vibe built by The Judge before the playful vibe of the ukulele takes over. Tyler’s falsetto in the chorus sounds really smooth and nice, I love the hook on this song. The tempo changes keep the song engaging and interesting throughout it’s run and make it feel more unpredictable which is nice. Doubt has this pretty cool electronic beat to it, kinda wished he dialed back the autotune on this one because while it doesn’t take away from the song exactly, it probably could have worked better without it. Still he somehow makes one of those repeated syllable choruses (don’t forget a-bou-bou-bou-bout me) work simply with how catchy and nice the chorus sounds so it’s still a pretty great pop song all things considered. Polarize is probably my least favorite song on the record, it’s good I guess, like I enjoy the chorus and dig the lyrics it’s just the *Ah-da-da*s don’t do much for me and the trap snares on the chorus feel a bit unnecessary, still I can’t say the bridge of the song isn’t totally awesome with that eerie vibe coming from the distorted vocal samples in the background and his delivery that seems to get more intense with each line before he just straight up screams for a bit which I really dig and I can’t say that it doesn’t lead nicely into those *ah-da-da*s even if they particularly don’t do much for me.
We Don’t Believe What’s On TV is a really killer track, love the ukulele on it, the bass absolutely slaps on here, the fast pace of the song makes the song extremely fun and the horn that pops up on the chorus sounds great even if honestly I wish it was used a bit more. The harmonies that pop up just before the last chorus sound excellent.
I like the chants at the start of Message Man and after the chorus, also the way the song transitions into the chorus with those pitch shifted vocals actually works really well somehow, the chorus is really great imo. I like the guitars that pop up a bit on this song, sadly they only appear in the background and don’t do much but they still add a bit to the song. I like the way the song ends on that haunting beat which transitions nicely into Hometown. And man right from the start of the song, this dudes falsetto sounds so good. This song goes for a more synthpop driven sound and it pulls it off really well, love the synth line on the chorus.
Not Today is one of the most theatrical songs on the album and also one of my favs here. It’s really playful, I love the piano and the horn accent on the chorus. That *don’t you just me no, just because i play the piano doesn’t mean I, I’m not willing to take you down...I’m sorry* part is honestly really stupid but it’s also pretty funny and just comes out of nowhere (I mean all of this in a good way btw). The bridge on the song is quite stunning with those *uuuu*s and the horns giving it a summer-ish vibe. The organ that pops up after the bridge also really helps build into the last chorus.
Goner is an outstanding piano ballad. Love the way it builds up in the 2nd half with the drums coming in before Tyler seemingly gives up and the song ends THEN IT JUST EXPLODES into this really climactic and energetic part that’s all kinds of fantastic. An all around amazing closer for this album.
And those are my thoughts on Blurryface, ik it’s kind-of a hot take to do anything except shit on this album but honestly I think it’s judged too heavily, there’s a lot of amazing songs on here that get overlooked, okay as overlooked as any song on an album where every song has over 100 million streams on spotify at least. Maybe I’m overrating it, maybe I misjudged the album and it is actually as bad as people said or as pretentious as people say...but eh even if it’s as pretentious as people say at least it’s theatrical and bombastic enough to where I can get behind it in the same way as that Styx album although not nearly cheesy. Idk even concept and lyrics aside, this is a really fun and well put together pop record with a shit ton of memorable moments to keep you coming back time and time again imo. Not their best album by any means but it's still really great imo.
Fav Tracks: HeavyDirtySoul, Stressed Out, Ride, Fairly Local, Tear In My Heart, Lane Boy, The Judge, We Don’t Believe What’s On TV, Not Today and Goner