Level of Concern

"Level of Concern" is a song written and recorded by American musical duo Twenty One Pilots. It was originally released as a standalone single on April 9, 2020, through Fueled by Ramen.[1] The song would later be featured on the extended play Location Sessions and the livestream version of Scaled and Icy in 2021.

"Level of Concern"
Twenty One Pilots - Level of Concern.png
Single by Twenty One Pilots
from the album Scaled and Icy (Livestream Version)
ReleasedApril 9, 2020 (2020-04-09)
Recorded2020
Genre
Length3:40
LabelFueled by Ramen
Songwriter(s)Tyler Joseph
Producer(s)
Twenty One Pilots singles chronology
"The Hype"
(2019)
"Level of Concern"
(2020)
"Christmas Saves the Year"
(2020)
Music video
"Level of Concern" on YouTube

"Level of Concern" is a dance-pop, pop rock and dance-rock song produced by lead singer Tyler Joseph alongside Paul Meany of alternative rock band Mutemath, and its lyrics revolve around the COVID-19 pandemic during which it was written and recorded. The song encourages hope during challenging times, while also addressing the widespread fear and panic associated with the pandemic. A portion of the song's proceeds were donated to the charity named Crew Nation, a global relief fund made by Live Nation for touring and venue personnel made redundant due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A music video for the track was uploaded upon the single's release. The song peaked at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the duo's fourth highest charting song behind "Stressed Out", "Heathens" and "Ride".

Background and recordingEdit

At the beginning of March 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States stood at 70, but by the following month it had grown by hundreds of thousands with an increasing death rate, resulting in the closure of schools and the banning of large gatherings. Social distancing measures, such as staying home as much as possible, had been widely recommended, and gatherings of over 10 people had been discouraged.[2][3] Twenty One Pilots wrote and recorded "Level of Concern", their first new music released since their album Trench (2018), in self-isolation.[4] His mother, in part, influenced Joseph's decision to write a song about the pandemic.[5]

"Level of Concern" was written by lead singer Tyler Joseph, who produced it alongside Paul Meany of the alternative rock band Mutemath.[6] The two had previously collaborated in this capacity on the band's previous album Trench,[7] but the song is a departure from the conceptual nature of that record as well as its predecessor Blurryface (2015).[8] On April 6, Joseph disclosed on Twitter that it was the first song he had written on an electric guitar, although he needed "a few days to finish it up". He added that he would send his bandmate Josh Dun the files for the song.[9] The song was released as a standalone single three days later.[10][8] A portion of the revenue generated by the single was donated to the charity Crew Nation, a global relief fund made by Live Nation for touring and venue personnel adversely affected by the pandemic.[11]

CompositionEdit

"Level of Concern" is defined as a dance-pop, pop rock and dance-rock song with elements of funk, pop and soft rock that runs for a duration of three minutes and forty seconds.[12][13][14][15][16] According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Alfred Music, it is written in the time signature of common time, with a moderately fast tempo of 122 beats per minute.[15] "Level of Concern" is composed in the key of E minor, while Tyler Joseph's vocal range spans two octaves, from the low-note of D3 to the high-note of D5.[15] The song has a basic sequence of Cmaj7–Bm7–Am7 in the introduction and verses, alternates between the chords of Cmaj7 and Am7 during the pre-chorus, and follows Em–C–Am–G–D at the refrain, bridge and outro as its chord progression.[15]

The musical arrangement has an "upbeat groove" built around a "shimmering disco-esque guitar" before a beat played by Dun is added.[11] Entertainment Weekly's Omar Sanchez compared its groove to the band's single "Ride",[17] while Billboard journalist Chris Payne opined that the beat had "strong "Walking on a Dream" vibes," and also dubbed the single a "hashtag-2020 song" due its frequent references to the coronavirus pandemic.[18] The lyrics focus on finding hope and optimism in difficult times, with Joseph describing it as "simple but hopeful," but are "still earnest and honest about the chaos everywhere".[10][11] Chris Willman of Variety considered that the upbeat instrumental assuages the "anxiety" found in the lyrics, which also discuss "finding the right bunker-mate" with lines such as "would you be my little quarantine".[12][10]

Critical receptionEdit

Chris Payne of Billboard described "Level of Concern" as a "bop" with a "nimble" chorus,[18] while Caryn Ganz called it "a delicious bit of '80s pop-funk that revels in its simplicity" in her assessment for The New York Times.[19] Variety's Chris Willman found that, rather than being a "quick novelty knock-off" about quarantining, the track sounded "fully produced".[12] Jason Lipshutz, also of Billboard, claimed that the track is "the first true anthem of the coronavirus age", and speculated that it could become a commercial success due to it having a more radio-friendly style than Trench, as well as "words that anyone could relate to at this moment".[13] Similarly, Entertainment Weekly's Omar Sanchez dubbed it "the first quarantine anthem".[17]

Commercial performanceEdit

Despite not registering a full week of tracking activity, "Level of Concern" debuted at number three on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart (an extension of the Billboard Hot 100), number two on the Hot Rock Songs chart and number nineteen on the Alternative Songs chart in the United States with 7,000 digital sales.[20] In its first full week of tracking, the track entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number twenty-three with 10.6 million streams and 12,000 downloads, making it their second-highest debut on that chart, and unseated Panic! at the Disco's "High Hopes" from the top of the Hot Rock Songs chart, becoming the first song at number one on the chart not by Panic! at the Disco since November 2018.[21] It also became their seventh number-one hit on the Alternative Songs chart, making them the seventh band with the most number-one hits on the chart at the time, which they are now the fourth as of 2022.[22]

Music videoEdit

The music video for "Level of Concern" was shared upon the song's release on April 9, 2020, and was directed by frequent collaborator Reel Bear Media.[12] It features additional appearances from Joseph's wife Jenna, their daughter Rosie, and Dun's wife[23] Debby Ryan. It loosely documents the creation of the song and video as Joseph and Dun individually record and film their parts, uploading the audio and video onto a USB flash drive and sending it via snail-mail (although it is revealed that the two are living next door to each other at the end of the video). This is cut between clips of Joseph and Dun spending time with their respective partners and decorating their houses with flashing lights and fluorescent stars.[11][12][24][25][26] As of April 2022, the video has received over 80 million views on YouTube.

A separate music video for the song was released in the form of a continuous stream. Dubbed the "never-ending music video", it ran for 178 days, from June 22 to December 18, 2020.[27] Guinness World Records certified it as the longest music video in history.[28]

Alternate reality gameEdit

On June 12, 2020, a subset of the official Twenty One Pilots website began to accept alphanumerical codes in a specific format: "LOC-XXX-XXX-XXXXY", with "X" being digits and "Y" being letters. These events followed a Tweet made on the official band account that included a code in the format reading, "LOC-061-220-2012P".[29] Fans determined that the code translated to the 12th of June, 2020, at 12 pm, which was when the YouTube livestream began and the website began to accept codes. The livestream, which streamed from the official band account and ultimately lasted 24 hours, included clues to codes, although later codes were more dependent on files that users unlocked and downloaded through the website using the previous codes. These file downloads included clues that became progressively more difficult to decipher, such as images, words and short videos. Through the images, fans were able to create an alphabet based on the symbols included, which ultimately led to the solutions of later downloads. Behind-the-scenes clips and pictures of the band were also included inside the files, which were titled "USB", followed with the number of the code that unlocked the file (i.e., USB20). Codes 1 to 20 have been found.[30]

The final file download led users to a website that initially allowed them to input their name, mailing address, and Twitter handle. The first 500 individuals to do so received a physical flash drive containing exclusive images, videos, and old demo tracks from 2011.[31] As more responses were entered, the website was changed to show only a message of congratulations.

Credits and personnelEdit

Credits adapted from Tidal.[6]

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Certifications and sales for "Level of Concern"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[70] Gold 20,000 
Canada (Music Canada)[71] Platinum 80,000 
Poland (ZPAV)[72] Gold 25,000 
United States (RIAA)[73] Platinum 1,000,000 

  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit