By Jay Tilles
It’s a time-honored tradition in rock music that bands learn a lot of covers, along with their original material.
Back in 1962 when the Beatles played their legendary residency at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany, they played nearly all covers of American rock and roll. Bruce Springsteen did time in a series of Jersey shore bar bands, covering Creedence Clearwater Revival and other classic rock acts and Metallica used to round out their early sets with covers by bands from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement of the 1970s.
Twenty One Pilots are much like the bands who have come before them; lovers of music. They’ve covered an impressive variety of songs—from Elvis to Lana Del Rey.
“I think a lot times it doesn’t make sense what songs we cover,” Josh Dunn told KROQ’s Kevin & Bean recently. “It helps that there’s just two of us because we can literally just be eating lunch and be like, ‘hey let’s work on this’ and then put together a track and learn it on whatever instrument and try to play it to the best of our ability.”
Here are some of our favorite covers by Twenty One Pilots.
Elvis “Can’t Help Falling In Love”
Frontman Tyler Joseph pays homage to the King of Rock n Roll by playing the memorable tune on his ukulele, while being shadowed by a camera. The video below seamlessly follows the 27 year-old singing the song before, during and after a concert, both with crowd participation and alone, with only his bandmate Josh Dunn listening. It’s a must-watch for any Twenty One Pilots fan.
Justin Bieber “Love Yourself”
Twenty One Pilots pull out the stops whenever they play their home state of Ohio. This horn-laden version was crowd pleaser.
Bob Marley “No Woman, No Cry”
Complete with horns, Twenty One Pilots surprised fans at Live 105’s BFD this year with a cover of Marley’s classic sing-along before transitioning into their hit, “Ride.”
Tears for Fears “Mad World.”
The band created this video documenting the preparation for their performance at the 2014 MTV Movie Awards.
DJ Khaled “All I Do Is Win” and Ace Hood “Bugatti”
The duo drove the crowd into a frenzy with this medley performed in Singapore in May.
House of Pain “Jump Around”
The band has performed this song many times, although rarely in its entirety.
Van Morrison “Brown Eyed Girl”
The duo performed this 1967 classic on December 16th, 2013 while on the Vessel Tour stop at Rams Head Live in Baltimore, Maryland.
Lana Del Rey “Summertime Sadness”
The band performed the track in September 2014 at a Quiet Is Viølent World Tour stop in Columbus, Ohio.
Christina Perri “Jar of Hearts”
One of the band’s earliest covers, Twenty One Pilots’ video crew captured moments at Newport Music Hall in Columbus, OH in 2011.
Capitol Cities “Safe and Sound” and Daft Punk “Get Lucky” mashup
Twenty One Pilots have covered the Daft Punk hit a few times live in concert, but the best recording of the track was made when Tyler and Josh stopped by Radio 3FM in Holland. Note the addition of the band’s tour manager, front-of-house engineer and guitar tech, none of which are singers—which is immediately evident.