Paramore — “Misery Business”

Released: 7.15.07

Peak: #26

Teenage girls clearly deserve a better fount for their inchoate rage than Hayley Williams. She squanders no empathy when belting out her prerogatives, which, on “Misery Business,” range from objectifying pretty boys to pissing off pretty girls. Here’s pop-punk crammed into a VH-1 reality show template, with sexily unhinged women tussling over a guy who can’t possibly be worth the scratch marks. It’s enough to make Avril’s “Girlfriend” seem progressive.

In other words, Williams’ humorless intensity doesn’t even draw from the worthy seriousness than sexists (used to?) call “strident” in defiant women. She and her band are zeitgeist kiddies, powered by the joyless emo that’s become the default tenor of rockers dumb enough to be embarrassed about their Blink CDs. Only by accident does the title conceit suggests Soul Asylum’s “Misery,” that attempted (if dim) auto-critique of the whiny alt-anthem. Yes, Paramore have even less insight into their motives than Dave Pirner.

But that doesn’t mean Paramore can’t write, and this is probably where I should mention that “Misery Business” is a blast. Williams has a knack for phrase-tweaking, from the babe with the hourglass figure ticking like a clock to the dismissive “Once a whore/ You’re nothing more.” Like most volleys of bile, hers suggests a reflux of self-loathing, and the mixed emotions with which she exclaims “God, does it feel so good” satisfy my admittedly minimal (and admittedly stodgy) need for ideological “contradictions.” Plus, pop-punk machine-gun riffing fronted by an angry redhead chick sells for a very good reason. After all, there have been times that teenage girls have had no font for their rage whatever.

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