A ghost from my high school years visited me this week. It spoke to me over the radio on a sudden trip home, blasting from tinny speakers in a random storefront.
Staying purposefully out of touch with Top 20 radio, especially the songs that get spun in my hometown, I was shocked to hear what I heard -- Hayley Williams, asking me what I was "gonna do when the world don't orbit around you."
This past week, Paramore, Williams' Nashville-based pop-rock outfit that's celebrating their first full decade together, broke the Top 20 once again with the absurdly infectious "Ain't It Fun," their fourth single off their self-titled release from last April.
Within minutes of hearing the song I had downloaded it -- 23-years-old, windows down, driving home and belting it like I learned to sing again after years of vocal dormancy, on that Little Mermaid tip. Perhaps that's the testament right there to Paramore's staying power -- they are one of the last phenoms of the TRL pop-punk generation, then young enough to slip in the door, old enough to relate to their fans and savvy enough to grow with them.
For those who called Williams too pitchy, who knocked the band for being too theatrical, who said that they were too of the times to really make an lasting impact, the joke's on you.
Paramore is a prime example of a post-Y2K band that made all the right moves. Whether it's marketing -- their inclusion on the "Twilight" soundtrack ("Decode" is still a hell of a song, unlike Death Cab's "Meet Me On The Equinox"), the release of The Singles' Club to stoke the fire between brand new eyes and Paramore -- or the post-pseudo-breakup bounce-back after Josh and Zac Farro's departure and tabloid antics three years ago, it's undeniable that they're as bulletproof as that era got.
They're also a band whose records have seen upward trends over sales lags in the past ten years. For a outfit that once had singles Vanessa Minnillo introduced, debuting a record in 2014 and having it drop at number one is nothing to sniff at -- platinum, gold, whatever, they've got precious metal certification on every album they've released. Charting their LP releases -- 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2013, respectively -- they've also adhered to a pretty sparse release cycle, especially in a day and age where two or three years between major albums is considered an eternity for those who consume media at a Tumblr-worthy rate.
Go find their Youtube channel for a taste of their fan base's rabid appreciation and you'll see millions upon millions of views. Their team is still keyed in, getting the band into the right hands and still attracting fans ten years later to a genre that long ago had its moment.
I am a grown-ass man with an appreciation for a lot of music, but there's still something about the heart-on-sleeve, tongue-in-cheek lyricism and sometimes saccharine coating about Paramore that's still attractive and worthy of note, even if it just hearkens back to my sophomore year of high school.
If nothing else, they're a showcase for a proper and malleable model of how to make a band stick in a violently shifting musical landscape. For me, however, I'm just playing "Pressure" far too loudly next to you at stoplights and possibly singing to you if you're lucky.
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