As a product of the 90s, I grew up listening to pop divas like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, but I never really identified with them. Don’t get wrong, I’m definitely all for women expressing sexuality, but for me, that isn’t where I draw my confidence.
It was really hard for me to find a female figure in music to look up to. That is, until about 2005 when I got into punk rock and a fiery redhead frontwoman caught my eye. In case you’re still lost, I’m talking about Paramore’s very own Hayley Williams.
I seriously remember distinctively where I was when my love affair came with this band. Here I am in small town Arkansas, sitting on my living room couch with Fuse TV playing on the background. Paramore’s “Pressure” video appeared and it didn’t take long for me to get hooked.
Hayley had it all – the attitude, cool vintage tees, and the straight hair with the perfect fringe. To me, this was a role model. Maybe not fashion, because I could never pull off that hair, but rather someone who didn’t let stereotypes of a typical frontwoman bother her. I don’t think I ever spent a summer in my teens without a Paramore concert. With her being close to my age, Hayley was someone I looked up to and I still do.
The thing that really gets me with Hayley is that she became the superstar that she is by simply being her. We get told all the time to be authentic – don’t copy someone’s look or sound – and quite honestly, that’s really tough in the music industry. Hayley has had her own look for as long as I can remember.
For the record, I’m not trying to diss any of the popstars before and now in the limelight with her. It’s just crazy to see a girl out there just being here without pardon my language, being a “slut.” She hasn’t had to produce racy videos or do all the risqué stuff on stage. She was confident in her talent and managed to headline Warped tour year after year. Not to mention tour successfully around the world.
I grew up with each album. All We Know Is Falling really got to me when I began high school and started finding out who really mattered in life. Riot! is just great in that it helped shaped my independent, as-a-matter-of-fact attitude. Brand New Eyes was there for me as I was maneuvering my life as a college student who was mature but still felt like she was a teenager. Their self-titled album, Paramore, was the perfect mix for the year I decided to move 300 miles or so away from home. Even when it was hard to meet new people, music was there for me and it still is.
While her bandmates have changed through these years, Hayley’s been the glue holding the group together. I listened to their interview with Zane Lowe and I realized how much I took Paramore for granted. It wasn’t until Hayley said that she almost didn’t want to make an album that I realized how important she was to me.
Here we are in 2017, with a new album and sound with After Laughter. And once again, this album fits my life. No, it isn’t the typical sound – but you can’t expect someone to stay the same after a decade, right? We change, and it’s only right that our bands change with us.
After Laughter provides you with those mixed emotions of your 20s – light, happy, and even confused. But mostly happy. I think I played 26 on loop right before my 27th birthday as I tried to reflect on each major event that got me to this point. If I ever get the chance to meet Hayley one day I hope to thank her for what she’s done for me as a teenager and now an adult. Also, if you haven’t even listened to their new album, what are you doing with your life?!
Watch Misery Business for old times sake, and then their new vid for Hard Times. We love you Hayley.