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Stressed Out
A Quick Music Discussion Guide for Parents
03/04/2016

Dynamic ImageThe Song: Stressed Out

Main Point: Life can be extremely stressful, but in Christ we have the promise of a peace that passes comprehension

Vital Info Before You Get Started:
The following info should help you contextualize this very popular song so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.

21 Pilots bring a mix of piano (sometimes an electronic keyboard or a keytar), synthesizer, drums (also mixed with electronic drums some parts), vocals, and occasionally ukulele. Their songs are poetry-based (written by Joseph and Dun). Joseph has stated that when poetry is too long, he needs to start rapping to fit the lyrics in.
People typically have trouble affiliating the band to a specific genre to describe them, since they bridge so many. However, many fans (and themselves to a degree) have labeled them "Schizophrenic pop" (also known as Schizoid pop), a technically unofficial subgenre of pop.
Although many of their songs contain allusions to Christian theology and have messages (even if implied) about God, and all members of the band (past and present) are Christians, 21 Pilots is not considered a Christian band. (www.wikipedia.com)
As of this writing, the song’s music video has been viewed more than 103 million times on YouTube.

IMPORTANT NOTE TO PARENTS: We at The Source for Parents believe that certain elements in our youth culture can serve as good discussion jump starters with students. At the same time, we would never hope to introduce students to a negative influence that they haven’t already encountered. This balance is a delicate one. In our experience most students, churched and unchurched, keep pretty current with music and music videos. Thanks to YouTube, MTV.com, and iTunes, the most popular music videos and songs are free to access only a click away. If you decide to use this, do so by catering it to fit your family’s needs.

Since this song is so popular, your kids most likely have heard it. When you sit down to discuss this song, make sure to have a copy of the lyrics available (below) and access to the music video (which we provided in the link below, as well).

Above all, don’t appear as if you have a “canned” discussion in your head and rattle off questions like a teacher giving a pop quiz—your kids get enough of that in school. This is a guide, primarily—not a verbatim script. Just familiarize yourself with the content here and start a conversation in the most natural, unforced way you know how.

The Music Video: It can be found online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXRviuL6vMY

The Music Video:

The music video can be played for free at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXRviuL6vMY



Song Lyrics:

"Stressed Out"

I wish I found some better sounds no one's ever heard,
I wish I had a better voice that sang some better words,
I wish I found some chords in an order that is new,
I wish I didn't have to rhyme every time I sang,

I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink,
But now I'm insecure and I care what people think.

My name's 'Blurryface' and I care what you think.
My name's 'Blurryface' and I care what you think.

Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol' days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we're stressed out.
Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol' days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we're stressed out.

We're stressed out.

Sometimes a certain smell will take me back to when I was young,
How come I'm never able to identify where it's coming from,
I'd make a candle out of it if I ever found it,
Try to sell it, never sell out of it, I'd probably only sell one,

It'd be to my brother, 'cause we have the same nose,
Same clothes homegrown a stone's throw from a creek we used to roam,
But it would remind us of when nothing really mattered,
Out of student loans and treehouse homes we all would take the latter.

My name's 'Blurryface' and I care what you think.
My name's 'Blurryface' and I care what you think.

Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol' days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we're stressed out.
Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol' days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we're stressed out.

We used to play pretend, give each other different names,
We would build a rocket ship and then we'd fly it far away,
Used to dream of outer space but now they're laughing at our face,
Saying, "Wake up, you need to make money."
Yo.

We used to play pretend, give each other different names,
We would build a rocket ship and then we'd fly it far away,
Used to dream of outer space but now they're laughing at our face,
Saying, "Wake up, you need to make money."
Yo.

Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol' days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we're stressed out.
Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol' days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we're stressed out.

Used to play pretend, used to play pretend, bunny
We used to play pretend, wake up, you need the money
Used to play pretend, used to play pretend, bunny
We used to play pretend, wake up, you need the money
We used to play pretend, give each other different names,
We would build a rocket ship and then we'd fly it far away,
Used to dream of outer space but now they're laughing at our face,
Saying, "Wake up, you need to make money."
Yo.


Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

Q: When it comes to this song, what’s the MUSIC VIDEO about and what are the LYRICS about? (Take a second look at each if necessary!)

A: The song’s music video/song is about the commonly felt nostalgia for childhood and the ever-increasing pressure that adulthood inevitably brings. Joseph (from 21 Pilots) explained to MTV News that 'Blurryface' is "a guy that kind of represents all the things that I as an individual - but also everyone around me - am insecure about." So basically the song/video are intended to illicit wistful feelings from childhood when things were seemingly more innocent and simple.

Q: Is it wrong to remember our childhood with nostalgia?
A: Yes and no. Yes, if it becomes a source of angst and a paralyzing trip down memory lane that keeps you from being a responsible and engaging person. No, if it helps you see how those ‘good old days’ helped make you the person you are today, and you can remember within a positive framework

Q: Why is the phrase ‘wake up you need to make money’ repeated so often?
A: The heart of this song seems to be an active protest of what is perceived to be a highly materialistic adult expectation. It seems that 21 Pilots are decrying the constant pressure of needing to make money, which is one of the reasons they miss their childhood and why they feel so “stressed out.”


Where to Take It from Here:
Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful! (There’s a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged—the next time it feels right, try out another song. Keep engaging them.

For Deeper Discussion:
If your kids seem into diving in deeper, the following discussion guide can help take you there.

Want help getting your teenager engaged in conversation? CLICK HERE for a helpful article from our "Parenting Help" page providing you with 3 Essentials to Talking with Today's Teens.

Transitional Statement:
Going over to a friend’s house, secret handshakes, garage bands…all reminders of the Americana childhood that most of us experienced in one way or another. The song/video does a great job of reminding us of how good we had it, and how quickly it changes during adolescence- especially when we feel the pressure to make money and be successful.


More Discussion Questions:
  1. HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share some of our favorite childhood memories

  2. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What activity or aspect of your childhood do you miss the most and why?

  3. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Do you agree that a major theme of adulthood is making more and more money? Why or why not?

  4. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Do you think childhood nostalgia is a positive thing to engage in? Why or why not?

  5. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: We’ve already talked about the difference between the song’s lyrics and the song’s music video. Take a few moments to look back over the lyrics. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being low and 10 being high, how would you rate your stress level right now?

  6. Read the following passage:

      Philippians 4:6-7
      Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

  7. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Is it possible to not ever worry about anything? Why or why not?

  8. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Have you ever experienced a peace that ‘exceeds anything we can understand’? If so, when was that?

  9. ASK FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: How is this passage a natural antidote to the stress that the world puts on us?

  10. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What is the connection between being thankful and experiencing God’s peace?

  11. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: How do we find the balance between taking life seriously and not giving into worry?

  12. HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: What are some specific ways you could pray about the things that stress you out?

Wrap Up:
No doubt, life in this day and age can be extremely stressful, and when we think about the simplicity of our childhood, it can add even more negative perspective to our circumstances. But life during the Apostle Paul’s day for Christians was arguably way more stressful than what we face on a normal basis. That’s why it is critical that we stay obedient to Paul’s exhortation to not worry about anything and pray about everything.

This week, let’s commit to starting each morning with a list of things for which we can be thankful, and also getting into the habit of laying our stresses and burdens at the feet of Jesus, then we will experience God’s peace that passes understanding.


Written by Lane Palmer


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