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What Happens After Laughter: The Truth(s) as Told by Paramore

By Anjida Sripongworakul

Monday 17 July 2017 Music

In their latest album, Paramore explore life after laughter, the truths behind that brief moment of smile.

If you had asked middle school me what my second favourite rock band was, I would have replied, “Paramore”. And now, eleven long years later, the answer still stands.

Though time has passed, Paramore has grown with me and fellow devotees as a band, its punk, explosive beginnings now an alternative 70s and 80s colourful shade of mature existential musings, mirrored by the transformation of its lead singer, Hayley Williams, once known as the rockstar princess with ever-changing extreme hair colours, to a platinum blonde cool girl.

Formed in 2004 in Nashville, Tennessee by a group of junior high friends, Paramore was a mainstream rock band driven by Christian values in a town of country music. The band has undergone several changes since its early years, with members swapping in and out and internal lawsuits. Williams, the one constant ringleader and personification of Paramore, has stuck by her band through their struggles and successes, from previous hits like “Playing God,” “Misery Business,” “Brick by Boring Brick,” and its 2013 self-titled album’s Grammy-winning number, “Ain’t It Fun.”

After what seemed a much-awaited period, the band released its latest album, After Laughter, this past May 12, accompanied by a European and North American summer tour, with dates selling out major venues in Dublin, London, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Los Angeles, and New York when public bookings opened in late April. The album rocketed to Billboard’s Number One Top Rock Albums on May 27, and the music video of second single, “Told You So,” hit 10 million YouTube views on June 1. Why the immediate popularity and the warm response to this comeback? Paramore is no longer the band you think you knew, and in a much better way.

The band’s lead single, “Hard Times,” opened in bright colours, light, airy sounds and a clashing bassline, all driven by a relentless melody and Williams’s sweet, familiar voice riffing off all too relevant life struggles, regrets, and fears. They are candy-coated truths, head-bopping tunes about getting through your days in spite of life’s obstacles. “These lives,” sings Williams in “Hard Times,” “And I still don’t know how I even survive.” In the second (and my favourite) single, Williams confesses the frustrations of surviving mistakes and dismissing the persistent “Told You So,” from those around her, admitting, “The best is over and the worst is yet to come,” and asking, “Is it enough—to keep on hoping when the rest have given up?” Yet the song that exemplifies the album’s title is the upbeat, angst-ridden, “Fake Happy,” in which Williams, screaming, “Don’t make me play pretend,” fleshes out the truth that “everybody [here] is fake happy [too],” in a song on people hiding their true emotions behind smiles and laughter.

After Laughter is available now. Paramore played London’s Royal Albert Hall on 19 June.


 

Anjida Sri

I'm a Management Science (Decision Science Stream) Master's candidate at London School of Economics and Political Science. Originally from Thailand, I'm as passionate about the science, psychology, and statistics behind decision making as I am about film and writing. I enjoy opportunities to combine my passions in reviewing, discussing, and analysing films. My major influences include the New Yorker's James Wood, classic Russian literature, and Richard Siken's poetry. I've written film reviews, celebrity profiles, and news and technology coverage for my undergraduate engineering newspaper, the University of Waterloo's Iron Warrior. I'm also a guest blogger and Student Blog Editor for LSE's Department of Management. I believe pop culture, current affairs, and critical, world-changing ideas are integral to student lifestyle, and I'm committed to representing students' reality outside the classroom to society and the world. I hope to continue investigating this theme through NUS' platform for student voices.