Hayley Williams teases key influence behind Paramore’s new album
Hayley Williams has revealed details of how Bloc Party shaped Paramore’s upcoming record.
Let’s be honest, an Essential Paramore Videos list would need to contain… pretty much most of them to date. Throughout the band’s career they’ve been incredibly consistent not only in delivering outstanding songs, but also assembling a smorgasbord of iconic videos. In order to narrow it down to just 10, then, we decided to lay some ground rules.
Rule Number One/CONTENTIOUS DECISION ALERT: We have disqualified the superbly moody Decode as it’s really half-video, half-Twilight trailer.
Rule Number Two: ‘Best videos’ does not mean ‘best songs’; CrushCrushCrush is a classic Paramore track (c’mon, it made a stadium-sized chorus out of the words ‘nothing compares to a quiet evening alone’!) but its video narrowly misses out on our list.
What we’re looking for is the cream of the crop: the ones that defined moments in Paramore’s story and evolution. Here goes nothing…
The Paramore videography officially started with Pressure, but Emergency was even better when it came to capturing the elemental qualities that would go on to make them superstars. Any other band would have just filmed themselves all bloodied and bruised ’cause it, like, totally looks cool on screen and stuff. Instead, Paramore inverted our expectations and broadcast a degree of self-awareness that their pop-punk and emo peers simply didn’t possess. Not only did they film a video about themselves filming a video, they also served up a commentary on the shallowness of the music industry. As the band are given a bloody makeover in order to appease a director (played by – yep – the real director), they are plunged into a world in which appearances trump authenticity. The result? A video that’s anything but shallow.
The power of The Only Exception as a song largely revolves around just how unafraid it is of being deeply, deeply sentimental. The video is no different. In truth, it could have been someone quietly licking postage stamps and it probably would have reduced people to tears. Throw in Hayley Williams bringing the lyrics to life by walking through different scenarios of a person’s formative experiences of love – not to mention performing on a bed of Valentine cards – and it’s game over, man. It hits your tear ducts with the devastating combined force of a million rom-com endings.
And so to the video that introduced the latest era of Paramore in grandstanding fashion. In all honesty, the brilliant video for Hard Times warrants inclusion simply because it features Hayley Williams wearing The Greatest Backpack Of All Time. That it also features an array of retro effects, swirls of colour, and freestyle dancing are definite plusses. The main draw, however, is the way it straddles both gonzo humour and arch seriousness so effortlessly. That, folks, is one special effect you can’t make on a computer.
When Paramore returned with their bruised third album Brand New Eyes and its jagged lead single Ignorance, it was evident that things had changed. If the song signposted that Paramore 3.0 was going to be a much darker proposition, the video took that message to its logical conclusion. With the band practically playing through the gaps in each others’ arms in confined places, not to mention Hayley Williams’ ability to make a light bulb seem genuinely threatening, Ignorance captured Paramore as they’d never been seen before at the time: defiant, yet grizzled and battle-scarred.
While we haven’t officially audited their books yet, on a technical level, you could well argue that either the incredible disenchanted fairytale of Brick By Boring Brick or the neon powder paint fest of Now look like the biggest-budget Paramore videos to date (those weren’t ordinary Joe Schmoes as extras in the latter; everyone fighting to the death was either ex-military or ex-police, FYI). But for our money, the blockbuster video for Monster is the most exciting one simply because it mixes big effects with a genuinely intense performance from the band. Also, let us allay your fears, no Paramore was harmed in the making of this video: if you watch the Making Of on YouTube you’ll see they kinda had fun running away from timed explosions in the corridors of a decommissioned hospital. Maybe we’ll try it sometime.
Paramore have a lot of videos that feature them performing live. Indeed, it was very tempting to include, say, Careful or Hallelujah because of the way in which they document defining moments onstage/on tour. Still, there’s just something so brilliantly no-frills about the video for That’s What You Get that it should be on some sort of syllabus for all up-and-coming bands to watch. No, you don’t need to bankrupt yourself with a treatment featuring pyro, lasers, or a convoluted subplot about time travel. Instead just film yourself playing to a bunch of your mates on your home turf. Yup, That’s What You Get is basically a New York hardcore video of yore translated to a backyard in Nashville. And it’s awesome.
Many of the videos from the After Laughter album have been variations on a particularly potent theme: overpowering sadness camouflaged as joy. Musically, the album did that by welding lyrical trauma to ’80s pop influences. The videos, meanwhile, focussed on double lives. Rose Coloured Boy is the glossiest example of it – and it is excellent – but we’re going with Fake Happy on this list. Chances are you might not have even clocked just how good it is on the first few watches. Directed by Paramore’s drummer/Spielberg, Zac Farro, what begins with the sight of Hayley Williams unflinchingly staring down the camera morphs into her dancing and pirouetting around passers-by in New York. Yes, it sums up the sentiment of the song perfectly. Equally as powerful, however, is the fact we’re seeing one of the world’s most recognisable rock stars disappear anonymously into the world around her; just another stranger in the crowd. It’s a curio in their videography, but a magnificent one.
According to The Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs’ official website, the organisation’s goal is “To unite Women’s Clubs that encourage the study of literature, current and world events, promote and raise funds for charitable activities, address social issues and provide ways and means for solutions, under the roof of Federation.” What this Austin, Texas union left out here is that they also let amazing bands film equally amazing videos at their HQ. Enter: Paramore. Now, they knew when they were recording the song that it perhaps risked overdosing on cutesiness and schmaltz (which is its eternal charm), so they cleverly side-stepped the tired romantic narratives and clichés of a million other videos with director Isaac Rentz, instead focusing on representing what love feels like, rather than looks like. And, quite frankly, if no-one has ever made you feel like riding a bike inside a mansion, rowing a boat through balloons or dancing with ballerinas, we feel sorry for you…
Quite where Misery Business fits into the Paramore story in 2020 and beyond is an interesting question. The band confirmed during the final show of their After Laughter tour in Nashville that they were retiring the song from their live sets, Hayley having previously admitted she regretted penning the lyrics ‘once a whore you’re nothing more / I’m sorry that will never change.’ Strictly for the purposes of this list, however, its iconic video (high school + high drama = high-ranking video) still remains the image perhaps most strongly associated with the band. In the blink of an eye (if you take three minutes and 19 seconds to blink), they established themselves as bona fide stars on a world stage.
And you thought Ain’t It Fun was going to be number one… Oh wait, it is! If the pop affectations and gospel reverie of Ain’t It Fun did much to usher a host of new fans into Paramore’s world, the video effectively blew the doors off the hinges so even more people could surge in. As with almost all the best videos, its premise is absurdly simple: break as many world records as possible on a beautiful autumnal day. In theory, there’s no way the act of mummification should be associated with this single. But now? It would be impossible to think of this song having any other treatment. If you’re the only person in the world not to have watched the individually-filmed footage for each record that made up the clip, get on it. But first, re-watch this classic video.
Hayley Williams has revealed details of how Bloc Party shaped Paramore’s upcoming record.
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