Colorful retro looks and neon lights: Since Paramore released their new wave synth pop LP ‘After Laughter’ on May 12, 2017, the rock band innovated themselves on a whole different level. Their looks and their sounds differ from their former alternative rock, sometimes pop-rock, style of their earlier recordings since debuting in 2005. Back in 2007, their rocky single ‘Misery Business’ brought them into the spotlight and onto music channels like MTV. The accompanying music video, where Hayley gets revenge on a bratty teenage girl, rolled out the red carpet for them, presenting a rock group that doesn’t want to seek popularity but is rather cool on their own. Paramore, whose name came from a maiden name of the mom of one of the first bass players they had, continued with great successes. Singles like ‘The Only Exception’, ‘Still Into You’, and Grammy-winning ‘Ain’t It Fun’ continued their fame.
Five albums were released (including ‘After Laughter’) but several line up changes in the 2010s made for some troubled internal conflicts. Farro brothers Josh (guitar) and Zac (drums) left the band due to contract conflicts, as lead singer Hayley Williams was the only band member signed to Atlantic Records, which she later admitted. Former guitarist Josh later claimed on his blogger the band was “a manufactured product of a major-label” adding that the bandmates were simply “riding on the coattails of [Hayley’s] dream.”
The band decided to continue with remaining members Hayley, guitarist Taylor York, and bassist Jeremy Davis. Their self-titled LP released in 2013 discusses some of these challenges, like in lead single ‘Now’ as Hayley sings: ‘Lost the battle win the war/Bringing my sinking ship back to the shore.’ Later on, however, bassist Jeremy Davis was also not pleased with the treatment of the band, leaving Paramore on December 14, 2015, and embroiled in a legal battle, claiming ownership of their last record, where he later reached a settlement with the band in April 2017. Lead singer Hayley admitted later on that she was also extremely unhappy during that time on Paramore and wanted to quit, but was encouraged by guitarist Taylor to continue on. They managed to get one of the Farro brothers, Zac, back in the band, and finalized the happy sounding synth-pop record ‘After Laughter’.
Indeed, the lyrical content of the album is definitely not laughable, as many songs on the LP are dark toned, depressed and unhappy, linked to the band’s own experiences the last couple of years. But moreover, Paramore was able to mix up the downer lyrics with upbeat music and colorful videos. Five singles were released in 2017 and 2018, with music videos as artsy and flashy as ever. Paramore shows a completely different side, giving the viewer some fun and enjoyable bubble-gum pink-filled vintage wonders. A must watch for music lovers of all genres.
Here are the five music videos that shape the style and direction of newly reinvented Paramore:
Reminiscent to the title, lead singer Hayley Williams finds herself trapped in ‘hard times’ – crashing her car into a colorful cloud-filled room. The car’s window shield is decorated with neon lights letters – saying the words ‘hard times’ as well. Hayley takes the microphone on her hand, Taylor playing his guitar, and Zac playing the drums. The clouds are filled with electricity, ready to burst. In hand-drawn animation effects, similar to A-ha’s ‘Take On Me‘, Hayley gets hit by lightning from the clouds, and later on, is surrounded by tiny animated UFOs together with the other band members. The whole video is very colorful, with graphic and minimalistic art, as it looks for a lively and spaced-out way to depict the ‘hard times’. Fun to watch.
Told You So
Paramore in red – Hayley, Taylor, and Zac in Beatnik style with hipster sunglasses, French berets, and gloves. Driving a vintage car to… well, basically… nowhere as it seems, observing the outside. Hayley is first seen in an empty darkened room before joining the others in the car – with Zac on the driver’s seat swaying his tambourine, Taylor on the backseat with his electric guitar, and Hayley riding shotgun. Fun fact: The scenes of Hayley being in the house is guitarist Taylor’s actual house, the car is drummer Zac’s own. Zac also co-directed the video with Aaron Joseph.
As the lyrics cope with being literally ‘fake happy’, and that others may pretend to be happy too, Hayley is seen stranding through New York City in a sequined bodysuit, strolling around. All the faces of passerbyers are animated with upside down smiley faces, frowning instead of smiling, illustrating being ‘fake happy’. Hayley ends up in Times Square and is surrounded by large crowds of countless upside down smiley faces. She then uses a plate with the same upside down smiley to cover her own face. Fun fact: Directed solely by drummer Zac Farro.
Another uplifting electro-pop alternative sound, the lyrics depicts once again mental health issues, as they explained the lyrical content on Twitter: “‘Rose-Colored Boy’ is a song about feeling pressured to look at the world with blind optimism when you actually feel very hopeless about the world and your part in it,” Paramore continues by saying “…There is so much social pressure to be (or appear to be) “happy” that we can actually feel shame when we aren’t.”
The music video directly address the issue, as the band members are portrayed as newscasters of a made up 80s news show ‘Wake Up! Roseville’. Hayley, Zac, and Taylor all pretend to be happy newscasters and are forced to smile to get ratings on point. Hayley comments on a bake sale, Zac on sports, and Taylor reporting on the sunny weather in Roseville. Their guest speaker Bogie the Dog, a weather predictor, and happiness guru Summer Goodson, all play along with the forced happy-go-lucky attitude of the show. As Hayley meets her younger kid self in a dream – asking current Hayley ‘what are you doing?’, she realizes being untrue of herself, as her dream was actually being a real newscaster with real news. The band eventually trashes the studio to outpour their disgust. A clear statement of bringing back something real towards the table.
Caught in the Middle
Literally a song about being trapped in the middle, Paramore uses the 70s and 80s as pop art style to describe the feeling of being in different worlds. Walking around giant oranges and apples while also trying to evade (or avoid) various other fruits. In the next scenario, the band ends up in a place full of clay mountains melting down. The VHS style music video later shows the viewer they are actually trapped in postcards stuck on a fridge, while ‘real’ Hayley walks unexplored next to the fridge in the kitchen.
While After Laughter’s entire album is basically a disgusting life pill Paramore tries to swallow down, the band compensated the dark depressing lyrics with upbeat sounds and melodies. Especially the visuals are as colorful (and retro) as ever but still reminds the viewer of depressing moments when losing life’s touch. On a side note, every feeling can be described in creative artforms. The music video’s are definitely the base towards that. Visuals who offer innovation, and are fun to watch.
Paramore: Taylor York (orange), Hayley Williams (yellow), and Zac Farro (green).