Adrie’s Beats of the Week: Twenty One Pilots, ‘Level of Concern’

This week we have yet another first edition beats, and a life experience that I don’t ever want to revisit.


Here I am March of 2020 walking through my neighbors yard during my mom-specially-allocated hour of “outdoor time.”

by Adrie Starkenburg , Copy Editor

Welcome to Adrie’s beats of the week, a weekly column dedicated to remarking upon the intricacies of modern music. To submit any songs for entry, please contact starken69[email protected], with the subject line, ‘beats of the week.’ 

This week’s first edition Beats doesn’t need much pre-explanation, it’s pretty much all there. Except maybe to say that even since last November, the world has come a long way. In what direction I will let you decide for yourself, but that said some of the comments made in the following work might be slightly outdated. The heart of it is still valid I think though, and I am still proud to share it with you. 

Mid March of 2020, I had the pleasure of being dumped headfirst, with the rest of the world, into a global pandemic. It was horrific, but for the first at least twelve hours, rather exciting. I was in my school cafeteria when it was announced that school was shutting down; one person looks up from their phone with a ‘holy crap what is going on’ face, and then as the news spreads – utter chaos. Nobody really knew what was going on, but I do remember that we all thought we would be back in school in six weeks (and then by the end of the year, and then by the beginning of the next year, and then by halfway through that next year). It very quickly became apparent that nobody was going anywhere anytime soon, and while my own little universe was in absolute disarray, there was something beautiful and ‘faith in humanity’ restoring about the way that the world came together in those first few months. 

When I got home from that last day of school though, I sat down and watched Radio Rebel; one of the numerous early 2000’s Disney produced cinematic masterpieces. The movie features Debby Ryan as Tara Adams, a shy high schooler who also has a secret radio show. Of course everyone loves her (eventually), and then she gets the cute boy, and defeats the popular girl and so on and so forth. It’s one of the few things that I can tolerate Debby Ryan in, mostly because the movie as a whole is just bad. I am not sure where my general disdain for her comes from (maybe this, or this (0:32)), but she just feels like a part of my childhood that I don’t want to revisit. 

So I was thoroughly surprised when I saw her in the Twenty One Pilots “Level of Concern” music video (she is apparently married to Josh Dun). and  even more surprised, when I didn’t immediately cringe and fight the urge to give her a (much needed) bobby pin. I actually felt so neutral about her that I didn’t even remember she was in it until seeing the video again for the first time recently. I would go as far to say that I appreciated her here, as irrelevant as my awkward connection to this song is. 

Video aside, I really enjoy the song. To me it really well encapsulates that way that I felt in early quarantine times. I was freaked out, but it was new, and exciting, and I danced a lot. I love the lyric “I’m asking you to stay/ In my bunker underneath the surface.” I think when we went into lockdown a lot of people moved really quickly into the depths of relationships, and things that weren’t supposed to come out until much later, were forced out of hiding, just because of the sheer amount of time that people were spending together. I don’t yet have a bunker, but if I did, asking someone to stay in it with me would feel like the ultimate level of commitment, a decision that I’m not sure if I would be able to make rather split second as the world was falling apart. Maybe that’s what did it though, the split second rush of the world falling apart. 

The world is now semi-normal, but I feel pretty confident in forecasting the phrase “quarantine couple” as commonly used slang of the future. The concept is forever immortalized in this song. I think we all just needed someone that was going to tell us everything would be fine, and then stick with us when everything was definitely not fine. I think we all just needed another human that at the very least would provide us with some sort of companionship. 

I am sure in the future though, when they try to reach the ever more cynical hearts of our children in history classes, they can play them this song.  I think that not only will it provide them with historical, factual evidence, but also give them a little bit of the feeling of what it was like (because the stories we tell them definitely won’t be enough). I will be glad to see a time when lockdown is a thing of the past, but I hope that we can carry with us the importance of having other people around us. Also the cruciality of bad teenage movies about finding oneself, and much better music videos.