10 reasons why Hayley Williams never really left the scene
The Paramore frontwoman may not make pop punk anymore, but her emo roots are still intact.May 8, 2020
Paramore are one of the definitive bands of the Warped Tour era. Though some of their peers are still churning out pop-punk tunes in the same vein as their first batch of records, Paramore have moved on to something different. On their 2013 self-titled LP, Hayley Williams and her bandmates took their emo foundation but painted everything with a fresh coat of pop-centric paint. They took matters further with the glossy, ’80s-esque After Laughter.
Now, with Williams making her solo debut album, Petals For Armor, she’s exploring muted indie pop. But what’s running through all of her work are her emo roots, as she’s never quite abandoned them outright. These are 10 reasons why Williams never left the scene.
1. She’s opening up about her mental health
In both After Laughter and her solo material, Williams has maintained transparency about mental health and the importance of discussing it. After Laughter largely centers on Williams’ struggle with depression, often masking it with uptempo, danceable grooves and pop melodies. On Petals For Armor, the sparse instrumentals lay her emotions bare. Even outside of music, Williams advocates for the value of discussing mental health while calling out online trolls on Twitter.
2. She doesn’t want to be too famous
Having a Great Day. ++®☀️🌬 pic.twitter.com/hoTccJYsDD
— Uzi London 🌎☄️💕® (@LILUZIVERT) January 7, 2016
In a recent interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music, Williams mentioned that she’s been offered guest spots from country singers as well as Lil Uzi Vert. When asked to work with the hip-hop star and huge Paramore fan, she said she wrote back to him on Instagram. “Buddy, I love you so much, but I don’t want to be that famous,” she says. Although a collaboration between the rapper and Williams would have been fascinating to hear, this shows that Williams still cares about the underground. Maybe it will happen someday, but in the meantime, enjoy Lil Uzi Vert jamming out to “Ain’t It Fun” above.
3. She’s focused on self-care through music
Through her lyrics, Williams makes it clear that music is a form of catharsis for her. Even during the bleak periods of Paramore’s history, she resurfaced and found solace in music. Despite dark thematic material on both Paramore and After Laughter, it sounds like Williams is truly enjoying herself, perhaps even reveling in letting her anxieties run free. Aside from her music, Good Dye Young helps both her and fans alike treat themselves to a bit of self-care.
4. She’s evolved with the times
Many bands from the scene have had their fair share of problematic lyrics. Though the misogyny in “Misery Business” (“Once a whore, you’re nothing more/I’m sorry that’ll never change”) isn’t quite as head-turning compared to some other groups’ lyrics, Williams has directly addressed the issue herself. Because of this, Williams announced at a Nashville show in September 2018 that Paramore wouldn’t be performing the song live for a long time. It’s important for artists to adjust their material with the times. And the decision to not play “Misery Business” because of its questionable aspects is a highly respectable choice.
5. She’s still championing emo
Though Williams’ solo material may not be outright emo, she’s still championing and collaborating with several artists in the genre. Aaron Weiss from mewithoutYou, Williams’ favorite band, appeared on Paramore’s 2017 track “No Friend.” She also lent her own voice to Midwestern emo legends American Football’s “Uncomfortably Numb” this past year. Most recently, she featured the indie-rock supergroup boygenius on her solo song, “Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris.” Even if she isn’t making emo music herself, she’s still working in the genre’s circles.
6. Her onstage energy is contagious
Paramore have always been known for their hyperenergetic live shows. This is mainly courtesy of Williams jumping around the stage and inviting fans up to sing “Misery Business” with her. Although most of her solo tour dates have been indefinitely postponed, her performance of “Simmer” at a fashion show in New York proves that her solo shows will match the energy and charisma of her performances with Paramore.
7. She’s still making new Paramore music
It’s been three years since Paramore’s latest record, After Laughter, released. Even though Williams is pursuing a solo career, that doesn’t mean she’s finished with the band. Last month, she essentially confirmed that their sixth LP is in the works and that they even plan on continuing their Parahoy cruise. This week, she also teased who they’re considering as producers and potential sound experiments. We may not know many details, but longtime fans can rest easy knowing that Paramore aren’t anywhere near finished.
8. She still listens to the Used
Occasionally, former scene kids need a throwback to simpler times, and it seems that Williams embraces that mentality, as well. In early April, she posted a clip on her Instagram story, dedicating it to “that one guy on the internet who says he misses the old me.” It turns out that she still listens to the Used, as she was belting “The Taste Of Ink,” reigniting the emo kid in all of us.
9. Her solo era is as vibrant as ever
The scene was always known for simultaneously being hauntingly dark and vibrantly colorful. With Petals For Armor, Williams is blending both, but she’s leaning more heavily into the vibrant side of things. Just look at her notably bright music video for “Cinnamon,” and she even brought back her orange hair from the Riot! era. Petals For Armor may not sound anything like Riot!, but it’s equally as lively.
10. She’s taking control of her creative direction
Perhaps what Williams’ solo era represents most of all is that she’s taking control of her creative direction. Petals For Armor is entirely her own artistic vision, and it’s turning out to be her most eclectic work yet, as she’s traversing plenty of previously unexplored terrain. There’s the hushed soft rock of “Leave It Alone,” the jittery dance-punk of “Over Yet” and the swung indie rock of “Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris.” The vocalist even worked with bandmate Taylor York and touring bassist Joey Howard throughout the record. Her style has certainly changed, but Williams has never left the scene that she’s come to help define.