The Paramore Paradox: Why Hayley Williams Can't Leave the Band That Made Her Famous
Hayley Williams says she's not leaving Paramore. Even though she sang the hook on B.o.B's "Airplanes," one of the biggest songs of the summer, and seems perfectly set up to stop splitting Paramore's paychecks five ways, you have to take her at her word.
Why? Because Paramore is possibly the least controversial band in the world.
Maybe it's their crypto-Christian rock background or maybe it's a new era of musical acts that have abandoned the debauchery of previous eras. If you're looking for some juicy angle on Paramore, good luck. Can a band whose antics inspire yawns still hold up the musical end of the rock 'n' roll bargain?
A recent Spin feature on the band made a big deal out of how boring the band is on the road, but was that a big revelation? Even without the one-girl-and-a-bunch-of-guys dynamic, nothing about Paramore screams that they're likely to provide any material for a Hammer of the Gods/The Dirt-type tour exposé. They post videos online capturing a pickup soccer game in a hotel parking lot, after all. As journalists, maybe we want scandal and excitement because it's easier to write about.
Hayley Williams' blog rebuttal to the
Spin article wondered why people can't just focus on the band as a whole. There's no big secret there: Put Williams' pic on the cover and copies fly off the newsstand, but the story inside? Kinda dull.
The nature of Paramore's "360" deal with Warner Music and Fueled by Ramen (the band gets extra promotion and other marketing considerations from the label in exchange for a cut of tour and merch action, which the band usually would keep for itself) is interesting in a industry-wonk sort of way, but that's not likely to fly with Spin readers. Maybe a band can be fun to listen to and nothing else. The Paramore show at the Dodge will likely be passionately energetic, they'll play a few acoustic numbers that will dull their appeal to anyone but the diehard fans, and they'll finish with the big hits. What more is there to ask from a band?
On Paramore's Facebook page, merch is paramount — T-shirts and links to exclusive merchandise sold at Hot Topic and Target are the first things you see. It's this kind of retail redirection that explain why Williams is likely to stay with the band. Paramore has more marketing power as an emotionally meaningful rock act with a dynamic lead singer than does Williams as solo act with a little edge and a little style but a boring personal life. When the band is at its best, playing hook-laden guitar pop, the songs are fun — despite lyrics seemingly pulled from the back of her fifth-period social studies notebook. Paramore offers fans the opportunity to be cute and still have feelings.
At least for the time being, the pop charts demand from women a variation on sorta-subversive-but-not-really sexual provocation. Katy Perry shoots whipped-cream jets from her bra, Ke$ha tells stories of waking up in gutters, and Lady Gaga throws the wildest fantasies of every drag queen with a cabaret act into a blender to see what comes out. Williams had a vaguely salacious topless Twitpic leak and is dating a guy from New Found Glory. That's just not going to be enough scandal to make it on her own.
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