Twenty One Pilots’ “Tear In My Heart”: Disappointing delivery

The video starts off culturally confused. The first shot puts the band in front of some beautiful Chinese architecture in Chinatown. But it is the Korean greeting, ” annyeong-haseyo”, they shout as a cue to start. A more amusing contradiction is the song title. The first thing that comes into mind when you read “A tear in my heart”, will probably be “Oh, it’s a breakup song” — but no, in fact it turns out to be a love song, of sorts.

Jarring opening sequence aside, the video cues in a strong bass; a jazzy influence; and a refreshing wide-angle lens shot of a charming street. But the loose plotline takes a big u–turn with quite disturbing visuals as the video progresses.

The first blatantly obvious annoyance is the excessive use of lens flare. There’s no good use for lens flare. It’s just plain distracting. A lot of generic pop music videos use it a lot, but with every cut, the flare changes location and you can’t help but follow it with your eyes. The first few times it may have been forgivably “cool”, but not with such frequency.

Overall, I did not enjoy this presentation, either concept or production-wise. There doesn’t seem to be any strong, underlying focal point, and although the video attempts a little story-telling, it is too fragmented to follow. All you will remember from this weak story is that lead singer, Tyler, gets beaten up by a woman (played by Jenna, his wife in real life!) whom he tails into a diner.

twenty_one_pilots1The reused takes of passersby look cheesy and low-budget. They could have just got stock videos and inserted them into the music video and it wouldn’t have made a difference. In fact it might actually have been a little better. With High-Definition quality stock videos readily available, we wouldn’t have to suffer through many repetitions of unfocused images of passersby as the video zooms into them. The same unimaginative ‘screenshot and zoom’ technique is used constantly throughout the video which reminds me of the kind of videos we would hastily edit together for a school production or a group project. The zooming into Tyler’s and Jenna’s expressions during their confrontation reminds me of a 90’s sitcom, accentuating the tackiness of the production. There is also an attempt to make something of enlarging the eyes of some of the passersby but all it looks like somebody going crazy with the different tools available, having discovered Photoshop for the first time.

The video doesn’t give us a break. I continued cringing in my seat as I saw the sub-par computer generated images of the Chinese-style gate being exploded in slow motion. The splintering of wood and shattering of tiles and glass is cartoony, clearly CGI, which emphasizes how unrealistic it looks.

The video has room to improve. Much of the above visual effects seem randomly thrown in the pot without a common focal point or narrative thread holding them all together. The lyrics still feature their usual off-beat imagery, but here, nothing in particular stands out. The only line that I found partially interesting is:

“But that’s OK, I’ll just avoid the holes so you sleep fine.
I’m driving here I sit, cursing my government,
For not using my taxes to fill holes with more cement.”

I only found this amusing as it’s quite the opposite in Singapore. People curse the government for repaving roads because it usually results in traffic congestion! Ok, random association, but I just had to say it… though I can’t quite explain why the sudden compulsion.

Twenty one pilots mentioned that they don’t release individual songs as isolated bodies of art. So with the recurring makeup style of Josh the drummer and now with Tyler’s hands and neck being painted black, maybe there is still more to come. Could painting his hands and neck, the parts of him that create music, black mean something more? It doesn’t seem like it fits into this song, so it might be a lead-in to their next release. Although this music video has been quite a let down, this little teaser still makes me want to see if anything happens in their next album launch. But even then, hopefully twenty one pilots steps up their game. We don’t want to be disappointed any further.

Twenty one pilots’ music video for ‘Tear In My Heart’ from the upcoming album, Blurryface was released on April 5 2015 on YouTube.