I hate Christmas songs. Not all of them, obviously. The old classics I can endure, but somewhere between ‘All I Want For Christmas’ and ‘Last Christmas’, my ears always seem to get an extreme urge to crumble to pieces, which means I’ve been avoiding them for years. It comes as no surprise then that I’m also not the biggest fan of this current trend of popular artists releasing modern Christmas songs. As Simon Cowell would say, “it’s a no from me”. If it wasn’t for this one special band, the one and only Twenty One Pilots, who, completely out of nowhere, managed to stun me with a Christmas song that I will happily play once Christmas Day comes around. So, how did they do that?
It’s been a very quiet year for Twenty One Pilots fans, for the clique, and myself. Admittedly, it has been a rather mellow year for the whole world and the biggest part of the music industry, but with countless musicians and bands doing livestream gigs, Q&As on Instagram Live and even releasing full documentaries on Netflix, clikkies have been left behind. We’ve been stuck in a world where getting the notification from Instagram that Jenna Joseph, wife of lead singer and bassist Tyler Joseph, has posted a new picture on her account sparks a huge ball a joy. A world with a strong resemblance to the last time the band disappeared for a break – a voluntarily one, I need to add – that had fans zooming into pictures and looking at reflections of mirrors just to get a glimpse of their favourite two guys. Desperate times.
This is why the announcement of Tyler Joseph taking part in a streamed Fortnite tournament and having a nice sort of Christmas party with everyone, created a bigger uproar amongst the fans than most things this year. Tyler Joseph was going to show his face to the world? In 2020? Shut up. But only a few weeks later, there he was – dressed as a rather ridiculous kind of elf, with big headphones on and surrounded by not just one, but three fully decorated Christmas trees. And what started as a usual session of Fortnite – this is me talking as if I know what the game is about in the slightest – quickly turned into a mix between a therapy session and a very needed family reunion. Or as clikkies would say, it felt like coming home.
From drummer and better half Josh Dun popping up on a separate screen from an apparently “undisclosed” location to wife Jenna and baby-daughter Rosie saying hi, mixed with Dun’s wife Debby Ryan taking over for a while, video producer and friend Mark Eshleman greeting everyone from his (Tyler’s) basement and even Joseph’s parents popping in to critique their son’s gaming skills – there was no end to the surprises. And while Tyler managed to get himself a name of the maybe worst player at Fortnite, daughter Rosie showed off her waving and saying ‘blrblrblr’ skills, effortlessly winning the whole crowd of over 30.000 live watchers over and turning herself into the possibly cutest highlight of the three-hour-long stream. To put it short, my entire Twitter feed was on fire and everyone wished for this evening to never find its end.
But obviously, all good things have come to an end at a certain point, and so did the stream. If it wasn’t for this one last surprise, this one last cherry on top. The gift that Joseph had been hinting at throughout the duration of the stream, while even mentioning the group’s upcoming album and Dun adding that it was “favourite record yet”. Let’s just say, the tension was on a level close to bursting in my London flat in the middle of the night. Watching some famous guy play Fortnite for charity at 3am on a weekday? That’s what I call dedication. And obviously, the whole clique had been expecting something rather big. A vague idea that quickly became general knowledge as soon as Josh suddenly showed up right next to Tyler, making it instantly clear that the whole family had been together all this time. And that what was about to come would be something very special. And rather unexpected.
Believe it or not – it was a Christmas song. From a guy that always used to promise to never write a Christmas jingle to anyone who asked. But I guess that is just what happens when you are “stuck at home” with the love of your life and your new-born daughter. You can’t help but fall for a holiday that is all about family, togetherness, and human connection. And if you are Tyler Joseph, naturally you have to go and put it into a song. So he did.
And there I was, on the other side of the screen, listening to this story being told and then to this track that I was set up to dislike – a modern Christmas song, from a popular band. But contrary to my own expectations, I didn’t react with a scrunched up face and unsure feelings, but rather happy tears rolling down my cheeks. Happy tears from being able to be part of this big family again. Happy tears from getting to see Tyler’s and Josh’s faces again. And happy tears from hearing a song that, for the first time this year, managed to make me feel this small spark of Christmas, that managed to make me believe that there really is hope, that 2021 might look better than its predecessor.
Obviously, when it comes to the record, I am more than biased. But having shared the track with other people and receiving positive feedback in return, it is safe to say that Twenty One Pilots have just released a new song into the big void that the world has become – and the void happily accepted it. Maybe that is because it has something for both ends of the spectrum – the jolly Christmas music lovers and stringent haters alike. Because if it wasn’t for the jingly bells in the background, the obvious lyrics, and the quiet ‘ho ho ho’ at the end, it would be rather hard to tell that we are talking about a Christmas song. Additionally, the stunning in-house production finish by Joseph himself and the “we know it all too well” RnB beats the group has become known for underlying the whole track, make for a base that only the best kind of music can grow out of. The song is Twenty One Pilots at their best – just as a merrier version.
I might not be the biggest fan of Christmas songs and the world as it is now might look a bit bleak, but in a matter of just three hours, Twenty One Pilots managed to convince me of the opposite. Maybe I actually like Christmas music. And maybe Christmas will really save the year. I guess we just have to wait and see. And in the meantime, I might just go and give Fortnite a try. I can hardly be worse at it than Tyler.
Written by Laura Weingrill