Livin’ In The Real World
By: Connor Lenahan
The other day while poking around the world wide web I came across the performance above. Paramore, one of my favorite bands, performed their song “Ain’t It Fun” on the finale of American Idol. This made me excited for two reasons.
First: It gave me an excuse to start playing Paramore songs in the office all morning. Something that absolutely no one argued with. This in turn made me extremely excited to learn I was surrounded by fellow Paramore fans.
Second: It gave me a reason to write about Paramore.
Recently I had started listening to the band’s 2013 album Paramore pretty frequently. It’s not uncommon for me to hear a new single or something from the radio for a band and go flipping back through their discography for a couple of weeks at a time. When I do this I look for some excuse to write about the artist I’m listening to. In the past concerts have been reason enough for me to write about Childish Gambino or Fiona Apple, but seeing as Paramore wouldn’t be coming near me for another few weeks I was in a bind. Then “Ain’t It Fun” started to pick up more steam as a single, getting more airplay, and allowed me the opportunity to write about one of my favorite bands.
I still find it weird how I discovered Paramore in the first place. I have a tendency to wake up in the middle of the night for no reason. These spurts only last five or so minutes. They don’t really interrupt my night all that much; all I do is check my phone for any breaking news before dozing off again. Back in 2007 I happened to have perfect timing waking up. With my TV set on MTV I awoke to the brand new video for “Misery Business.”
There is an over 100% chance that anyone my age has heard this song. It has been for close to a decade one of my favorite songs. I have never been able to pin point the exact reason why this song stuck me, but I’m fairly certain it’s Hayley Williams’s vocals with the tempo. Williams has an incredible voice that, even with the song blitzing it’s way to a barely-over-three-minute run time, still floors me to this day. More accurately the song probably struck me because I was super attracted to Hayley Williams in 2007. So was every male friend of mine. I have no shame in this. Why should I? Williams is stunning. And that voice. I made a comment out loud in our office about what her boyfriend had to offer over me other than “money and fame,” a comment I stand by, only to have my boss respond “keep dreaming Connor.”
I will. I always will. No shame. She’s a goddess. Plus she’s crazy talented. Something I didn’t realize until recently is that the debut Paramore album, All We Know Is Falling, was released when Williams was sixteen. This means she recorded a few of the strongest songs in the Paramore discography, “Pressure,” “All We Know,” “Emergency,” “Conspiracy,” etc, before she could drive a car.
Then she kept getting better. I was full on obsessed with the band’s 2007 album Riot! when it first came out. Unsurprisingly, I listened to the album recently and discovered that I still knew every lyric. That’s the level that I loved that album.
I’m not sure why, but I pretty much ignored Brand New Eyes except for “The Only Exception.” I didn’t realize until I went on my recent Paramore binge how stupid I was. This album is and was incredible. It’s not like Paramore had betrayed me or changed their sound in such a drastic way that I wished they didn’t make albums anymore like Linkin Park. I just didn’t realize how great of an album was right in front of me. It must have come out right as I was entering the world of rap music. I was distracted. It’s not an excuse but an explanation. I’m sorry Hayley, I hope you can forgive me before the wedding.
I heard “Brick By Boring Brick” for the first time a few weeks ago and played it around seven times in a row. I had seen with every list that a web search of “best Paramore songs” would bring that “Brick By Boring Brick” was near or at the top of every one. I didn’t understand why. Now I do. It deserves to be there too.
Last spring came the release of Paramore and the return of the band to my consciousness. If it weren’t for Yeezus around the same time then I would have spent my summer in my leg cast getting to know the album deeper and deeper. I remember on my first few listens having the thought that it was a spectacular album. Not just good by Paramore standards but a legitimately awesome album. I looked around and saw I wasn’t alone in thinking this. Metacritic has the album rated at an 81, which indicated “universal acclaim.” This made me excited as one of my favorite bands seemed to somehow get better.
I love the Paramore album. It’s not perfect but it’s pretty amazing. My favorite part about the entire composition is the exploration and evolution of the sound for the band. By 2013 we had a full eight years of proven music from the band that showed they were an excellent punk-pop band. It would be easy to drop another album with the same sound and make everyone happy – this would assuredly be a safe move from a financial sense, Riot! and Brand New Eyes sold well – but instead they went for broke and played around with what was possible for them to do.
What happened? We get songs that sound like classic No Doubt in “Fast In My Car,” probably the best song the band has ever made in “Ain’t It Fun, ” which features an exceedingly fun choir backing vocal, the sneaky sequel to one of Riot!‘s standout tracks “Let The Flames Begin” in “Part II,” a smash hit in “Still Into You,” a ballad in the same line as “The Only Exception” in “Hate To See Your Heart Break,” a personal favorite in “(One of Those) Crazy Girls,” and the beautifully abstract “Future.” We don’t get these awesome songs if Williams and her bandmates stay their lane. This is what made me fall in love all over again. The ability to experiment with their sound without losing the charm and magic that makes Paramore so wonderful.
That’s why I’ve spent the better part of May listening to the band on repeat. It shouldn’t make sense for me to have a shuffle where “Aquemini” by OutKast, a mellow, funky classic, can fade into “Born For This,” but great music is great music. I don’t discriminate. I love it all.
I might not get a chance to see Paramore this summer, as their tour stops just outside of the city and I don’t have a car. I’m not worried though. I can be patient. If I’ve learned anything it’s that the band gets better with each album. And with the appearance on American Idol they are growing in popularity. Soon enough I’ll get to see them in the TD Garden. All will be right with the world.
Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a sophomore at Boston University, majoring in journalism.