Paramore’s Hayley Williams responds to criticism of ‘anti-feminist’ ‘Misery Business’ lyrics

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"The lyrics literally came from a page in my diary"

Paramore‘s Hayley Williams has responded to criticism of the lyrics to the band’s hit single ‘Misery Business’ in a new interview.

The track was the band’s breakthrough single upon its release in June 2007, but received some backlash in later years due to its lyrical content – most notably the ‘anti-feminist’ lines “Once a whore, you’re nothing more / I’m sorry, that will never change.”

Now, the singer has reflected upon those lyrics in a new interview, ten years on from the song’s release.

Speaking to Track 7Williams has remarked on the backlash to the song.

“The thing that annoyed me,” Hayley Williams says, “was that I had already done so much soul-searching about it, years before anyone else had decided there was an issue. When the article began circulating, I sort of had to go and rehash everything in front of everybody. It was important, however, for me to show humility in that moment. I was a 17 year old kid when I wrote the lyrics in question and if I can somehow exemplify what it means to grow up, get information, and become any shade of ‘woke’, then that’s a-okay with me.”

She continues: “[The lyrics] literally came from a page in my diary. What I couldn’t have known at the time was that I was feeding into a lie that I’d bought into, just like so many other teenagers – and many adults – before me. The whole, ‘I’m not like the other girls’ thing… this ‘cool girl’ religion. What even is that? Who are the gatekeepers of ‘cool’ anyway? Are they all men? Are they women that we’ve put on top of an unreachable pedestal?

“The problem with the lyrics is not that I had an issue with someone I went to school with. That’s just high school and friendships and breakups. It’s the way I tried to call her out using words that didn’t belong in the conversation. It’s the fact that the story was setup inside the context of a competition that didn’t exist over some fantasy romance.”

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At a recent Paramore show at London’s Royal Albert Hall, Hayley Williams also opted not to sing the lines in question.

“For whatever reason, I believe I was supposed to have written those backwards words and I was supposed to learn something from them,” she continues. “It’s made me more compassionate toward other women, who maybe have social anxieties… and toward younger girls who are at this very moment learning to cope and to relate and to connect. We’re all just trying our damnedest. It’s a lot easier when we have support and community with each other. Vulnerability helps lay the foundation for all that.”

Read the full interview here.

Paramore released their latest album ‘After Laughter’ last month – read the NME review here. Williams later revealed that she left the band for a period in 2015 after suffering extensively from depression.

Stating that she quit Paramore for a period in 2015, Williams continued: “I just was done. I thought, There’s gotta be something else that I’m good at in my life. Maybe it’s time for me to go find that.”