Hayley Williams, the Lead singer of the band Paramore, has recently dropped a bomb on fans. The band has announced that they will no longer be performing their hit song “Misery Business.” The decision came out of concern that some of the lyrics in the song were no longer representative of the bands views.
A particular verse contains language that is very condemning of certain women – a contrast from the new feminist message the band is trying to convey. The actual action of removing the song from performances signifies a potentially growing movement for feminist musicians.
The song itself tells a very standard high school style-competition between two girls over a boy. The lyrics contain verses like “when I thought he was mine, she caught him by the mouth.” The song continues to detail how the boy in question had originally been falling for the narrator, until another girl took him away. Ultimately, the narrator manages to recapture the boys attention and essentially gloats about it to the other girl.
In the process of doing this she infamously says “Once a whore, you’re nothing more, I’m sorry that’ll never change.” This line is the most aggressive and condemning in the entire song. The line itself clearly insinuates that the other girl has no worth because of her actions. This idea of self-worth based on previous actions with men is far from the values of our modern feminist revolution.
Williams explained in an interview that the song was written when she was seventeen and in high school. The content in the song is her reaction to something that happened in her life. This goes as far as to say that most of the lyrics in the song can be traced back directly to her diary pages. Paramore has for years been saying that they no longer stand by what is said in the song but it is only now, over a decade later that action is taken.
Even now, the action comes a quite a surprise to fans as “Misery Business” was one of their biggest hits. In an interview Williams explains that as a now 26-year-old woman, she can no longer relate to the song. Recent additions by her include “Rose-Colored Boy,” which contain a more accurate representation of her feminist views. It is important to remember, however, that Paramore’s debate as to whether to continue performing “Misery Business” has been going on for years.
With modern feminism garnering more mainstream support from celebrities and musicians, Paramore’s decision can potentially be indicative of the future of music. The question can be asked: will we see more artists retract older songs from performances out of disagreements with lyric content? If this is the case, we could witness a potential politicalization of music to a degree we haven’t seen before. More likely, however, is a new trend of lyric-conscious feminist musicians. I, for one, certainly welcome it. With that being said there are certain aspects of music that I believe should be left alone.
Music is first and foremost an art form. The lyrics and instrumental pieces are an extension of the artist and their environment at that time. Some may not like the content of a particular song and that is their right, but the art should not be censored to that taste. Music from decades ago can serve as a glimpse into that time period in which it was produced, which is why it should never be altered. We must also take into account the actual purpose of the creation.
Most times music is created as a form of self-expression, but sometimes it is simply meant to entertain. The lyrics of a particular song can be dramatized in order to appeal to a certain crowd or draw attention. The content of music and message should always be considered, but unless universally condemned, music deserves no censorship. Feminism’s message was a welcome place in music, but should not dictate the message of other artists.