Monday, November 18, 2013


They’ve been number one, 
but where does Paramore go next?

Hayley Williams of Paramore, B.o.B., and Dexter
     A couple of years ago I heard the song “Airplanes” continually on the radio and I wondered who was singing it.  I thought it was Rihanna since she sings for rappers between releasing her own albums every other year or so.  To be certain, I asked one of my students and she said, “B.o.B.”  “No,” I said, “that’s the artist, but who’s the singer?”  “Oh, the lead singer of Paramore.”  This past summer, Paramore’s self-titled CD was the top selling rock album and I’d never heard
one of their songs, to my knowledge.  Bryce said he thought they were a good band, when I asked him during his visit, but he didn’t have any of their albums.  With a CD player, but no CDs, and mountain inference on a recent trip to Colorado, I picked up Paramore in a Best Buy along the northern Front Range.

     Paramore is a very generous band as evidenced by eighteen tracks.  LPs and cassette tapes had eight to ten songs, while eight tracks lived up to their name.  I wish artists and producers would limit themselves to twelve tracks at the most.  Generally, country musicians and management do so and it results in the establishment of a consistent point of view on an album and weeding out weaker tracks.  Mary J. Blige – yes, we love her because she’ll sing anywhere, anytime, and always genuinely looks surprised that fans are so welcoming.  A couple of years ago, she really was the embodiment of James Brown’s ‘hardest working (wo)man in show business.’  However, she also strays on the side of giving too much and if she were to cut back to a dozen tracks per album, the focus would be stronger. 

     Paramore, a big album that broadly goes all over the place, feels like when Blondie’s Parallel Lines took them from the downtown New York music scene to a national (and international) platform.  Actually, on the majority of tracks that feel like a collective, singer Hayley Williams, bassist Jeremy Davis, and guitarist Taylor York play as tightly as that seminal New Wave band, yet are open to influences that are outside of contemporary commercial pop.  Blondie moved the mainstream pop music world forward by integrating reggae, but more influentially incorporated rap into “Rapture.”  Paramore presents a couple of songs that sound like the Americana or roots genres, thereby stretching their instrumentation to include what I think was an unexpected banjo.  

Hayley Williams

     There have been changes in the band’s musicians, including two of the founders, just as there were in Blondie.  Williams’ voice – strong, subtle, and capable of a greater range than her peers – works as an armature for wherever the group wants to take their music.  The main issue facing them involves committing to a signature sound. 

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