Blurryface intertextual connections theory

*Disclaimer* Unfinished product, open to suggestion, super excited about this!

If you know anything about me, or anything about this website, you know that I am a huge twenty one pilots fan and that I love to explore any content or theories relating to them.

Not to anyone’s surprise, when my WEPO professor told us that we had “free reign” over a project on intertextual connections, I chose twenty one pilot’s Blurryface. Blurryface is a persona, an era, an identifying factor representing Tyler Joseph’s insecurities of depression and anxiety.

We see blurryface most predominantly in the album released in 2015 Blurryface. The album consisted of songs heavydirtysoul, Stressed Out, Ride, Fairly Local, Tear in My Heart, Lane Boy, The Judge, Doubt, Polarize, We Don’t Believe What’s On TV, Message Man, Hometown, Not Today, and Goner. These songs all encompass the persona of Blurryface.


The album begins with heavydirtysoul

Just another attempt to make the voices stop

Can you save. Can you save my. Can you save my heavydirtysoul?

  • These lyrics personify blurryface as “the voices”, what makes Tyler Joseph’s soul Heavy and Dirty.
  • HDSgif.gif

The album continues with Stressed Out

My name’s Blurryface and I care what you think

Wish we could turn back time to the good ole’ days when our mama’s sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

  • These lyrics give blurryface the characteristic of being the kind of persona that makes Tyler Jospeh insecure. His insecurities are what make him stressed out, because in ‘the good ole’ days’ he wasn’t “stressed out” to the point of being insecure.
  • stressedoutgif

The album continues with Ride

I just want to stay in the sun where I find I know it’s hard sometimes.

All my enemies who wouldn’t wish who I was, but it’s fun to fantasize

I’d die for you that’s easy to say

I’d live for you and that’s hard to do

I’ve been thinking too much, help me.

  • These lyrics personify Tyler under blurryface. He knows the real world is “hard sometimes” but without blurryface, it’s “fun to fantasize”.
  • Tyler’s depression under blurryface comes out with “I’d die for you, I’d live for you”. It’s easy for him to want to die under the insecurities of blurryface, but living is what’s hard.
  • Thinking too much, under blurryface, about his insecurities.


The album progresses with Fairly Local

I’m evil to the core
What I shouldn’t do I will
They say I’m emotional
What I wanna save I’ll kill
Is that who I truly am?
I truly don’t have a chance
Tomorrow I’ll keep a beat
And repeat yesterday’s dance

I’m not evil to the core
What I shouldn’t do I will fight
I know I’m emotional
What I wanna save I will try
I know who I truly am
I truly do have a chance
Tomorrow I’ll switch the beat
To avoid yesterday’s dance

  • These lyrics are Tyler speaking as blurryface and then speaking in the absence of blurryface. On one hand he is evil, on the other hand he is not, etc.
  • The song itself has sound bytes of blurryface (characterized by a deep voice) singing “this song will never be on the radio”


The album continues with Tear in My Heart:

Sometimes you’ve got to bleed to know that you’re alive and have a soul

  • The lyrics have meaning in that Tyler found someone to cut away at his blurryface, someone to see through his insecurities to get past his blurryface to the real him.


Now what you’re really here for


Blurryface has been around for a very long time, dating all the way back to 2009 with the Album No Phun Intended.

No Phun Intended:

This album was created by a 17 year old Tyler Joseph in his basement with a few other friends. The album is known to the Skeleton Clique as a part of the twenty one pilots repertoire. The album includes the songs Drown, Just Like Yesterday, and Falling Too.

These songs have almost direct connections or allusions of foreshadowing to the blurryface persona, or Tyler’s insecurities.

Just Like Yesterday:

The start of a day when we put on our face

a mask that portrays that we don’t need grace.

  • These lyrics connect to the lyrics in Goner “having two faces”. The idea of putting on a mask to create a second face.
  • A mask portraying not needing grace shows Tyler Josephs internal battle with his faith that we can see in this album of No Phun Intended, a battle that will soon turn into a battle with Blurryface.
  • These lyrics transfer into Ode To Sleep, a song from the album Vessel.

Falling Too:

But then I found you were afraid
And that means life is not okay

I wonder what’s inside your mind
And if there’s anything to find

  • These lyrics connect more to finding someone else’s “blurryface” or insecurities. This relates to blurryface instilling fear in someone.
  • Tyler finds someone afraid, and that makes him question if they have insecurities as well.


‘Cause I will save a face for name’s sake
Abuse grace, take a aim to obtain a new name in a newer place
But my name is lame, I can’t walk and I ain’t the same
And my name became a new destiny to the grave

  • Saving face is a metaphor for losing his own identity to the identity of blurry face.
  • The same goes for the name becoming a new destiny to the grave, his own name is dead and becomes the object of his insecurities.
  • These lyrics transfer into twenty one pilots Self-Titled album, showing that blurryface is a predominant factor in Tyler’s writing.


Self-Titled was the First album released by twenty one pilots, but the second album in the repertoire of Tyler Joseph. This album includes the songs Fall Away, March to the Sea, Trapdoor, and Before you Start your Day.

Fall Away:

Cause I will save face
For name’s sake
Abuse grace
Take aim to obtain a new name
And a newer place
But my name is lame
I can’t walk and I ain’t the same
And my name became
A new destiny to the grave

  • These lyrics were transferred from No Phun intended, which show how predominant the insecurities are in Tyler Joseph’s writing.

March to The Sea:

Then the wages of war will start
Inside my head with my counterpart

  • These lyrics show that Tyler is now specifically identifying that he has a counterpart.
  • They also show that within his counterpart, wages of war happen.
  • There is also mention of “waging wars” in the song Migraine in the album Vessel.


Throws on a mask that will alter his face

  • Once again going to the masks, relating to the idea of having two faces.
  • This time the idea alters his face, showing that his insecurities now alter his own person.

Before you Start your Day:

Open the slits in your face and start your day
You don’t have much time to make your slits look just right
I’m in your mind

  • These lyrics could be Tyler’s insecurities talking to him before he begins his day. Something is in his mind telling him that he doesn’t have time, but he has to do what he has to.

Regional At Best:

This album was released after self-titled, it’s off the market and copies today can only be found online selling for thousands of dollars.

Kitchen Sink

No one else is dealing with your demons meaning maybe defeating them could be the beginning of your meaning friend.

Go away

Go away

  • Tyler approaches the fact that everyone deals with a blurryface, or a demon. But defeating that blurryface or that demon can mean the beginning of themselves.
  • Tyler sings to blurryface himself saying “go away”, go away to the demons.


Won’t you go to someone else’s dreams?

Won’t you go to someone else’s head?

Haven’t you taken enough from me?

Won’t you torture someone else’s dream?

  • Tyler is speaking directly to his blurryface, saying that he’s tired of being pestered by him and that he just wants to be left alone.
  • He acknowledges that blurryface has already taken enough from him.


I wish that I had two faces to prove which theory worked

  • Two faces. One blurry and one not. “I’ve got two faces, blurry’s the one I’m not” correlating to Goner from the blurryface album.
  • This ties to the idea of having two faces.


Vessel is still produced by Fueled by Ramen and is still on the charts. It is one if twenty one pilots most popular albums.


I’m never what I like, I’m double sided.

And I just can’t hide, I kinda like it when I make you cry

Cause I’m twisted up, I’m twisted up inside.

My shadows grow taller along with my fears

  • It’s almost as if Tyler is speaking as blurryface and that he’s personifying the demon inside of him and how messed up blurryface is.
  • His shadows grow taller (dark imagery correlating to blurryface) along with fears, anxiety with blurryface.

Holding On To You:

I fought it a lot and it seems a lot like flesh is all I got

  • He fought what? maybe blurryface. Flesh being the only thing he has in comparison to blurryface, we later see in the song that “flesh [goes] out the door”


Being tested by a ruthless examiner thats represented best by my depressing thoughts

  • A ruthless examiner can be blurryface. Blurryface examines his thoughts and causes Tyler to have anxiety.

Ode To Sleep:

I don’t hear those voices calling

I must’ve kicked them out

I must’ve kicked them out

  • The voices are remnants of blurryface. He kicks them out in the morning after he is awake.

Fake You Out:

You say I’m not alone, but I am petrified

I’m so afraid of what you have to say. cause I am quiet now and silence gives you space.

  • Tyler acknowledges blurryface and that he is never alone because blurryface is always there. When Tyler is not “speaking”, blurryface takes over and gives room for the anxiety to creep in.


Tyler’s Blurryface appearance:

“Insecurity for me feels like the sensation of suffocating. So that’s why I do the neck thing,” he explains. “The other thing I’m most insecure about is saying, ‘This is what I created. This is mine. This is the best  I can do.’ So there’s black on my hands to represent that. The live show is a moment where that character is realized and confronted and hopefully conquered. As the show goes on, the make-up starts to wear away.”

-From Interview with The Evening Standard

The more and more I got to know the character Blurryface, the more I realized that the color blue was not a part of who he was. And because of that, red represents him on this record.

-From alternative Press interview 2015

Josh’s ‘blurryface’ appearance:

Josh identifies his insecurities through the color red on his eyes. It is his war paint because he has anxiety when performing on stage.

Black Ski Masks:

Provide the “blurry” allusion that there is a blurry face. They have been doing this since early concerts even before Josh was in the band.



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