ATP! Lists: Five Reasons Hayley Williams Is A Role Model
For over a decade, Hayley Williams has been proving the critics wrong. Sexism and a male-dominated music industry immediately labelled Paramore as just another No Doubt copycat. Critics were quick to compare Hayley to Gwen Stefani, unable to see beyond her gender and see that she's less Stefani and more Freddie Mercury, especially during live performances, when she electrifies crowds like a thunder storm of bubble-gum spunk and roaring vocals.
Perhaps Hayley is a rock 'n' roll super hero or Lisbeth Salander-tinged heroine, but what cannot be debated is her ability to inspire through infectious music that's about as perfectly pop as cotton candy at the County Fair. Hayley is the exception to the rule: straight edge, vocally talented, and driven to succeed with her music rather than her behavior on the "scene." If the recently wrapped 'Paratour' is any indication of the future, she seems to destined to continue shattering the glass ceiling, hanging with the boys, and proving that being genuine is the most valuable currency in life.
As if you didn't love her enough already, here are five reasons why Hayley Williams is a true role model for the millions of teenagers chasing their dreams and following in her footsteps.
After Josh and Zac Farro left Paramore in 2010, critics would spend the next two years hurling unfair accusations at Hayley. Some even accused her of being the cause of the breakup. Her artistic integrity was being attacked by journalists who seemed incapable of writing about Hayley without discussing her gender. They even questioned Hayley's heart. Then in 2013, Paramore would release their self-titled pop masterpiece. Wearing a rainbow leather jacket and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-inspired makeup, Hayley would lead Paramore on a tour that exploded like a neutron bomb on energy, passion, and proof that she would not back down from her critics. Leather-fisted gloves and fiery red hair, Hayley would "Grow Up" and deliver performance after performance that dripped sweaty perseverance. In less than a year, Hayley would help Paramore transform from pop punk darlings into full-blown rock gods. With the chips clearly stacked against her, Hayley jump-kicked her way to new heights in 2013 and continued to prove everyone wrong.
Hayley is probably the spunkiest rockstar on the planet. But that doesn't mean she doesn't write lovelorn lyrics about breakups, jealousy, and gloom. On "Misery Business," when Hayley sings, "Second chances they don't ever matter/ people never change/once a whore, you're nothing more/I'm sorry, that'll never change," she's belting out pseudo-feminist lyrics about an ex-boyfriend being swooned by a less punk girl. It's vindictive and like any good Taylor Swift song, dipped in vat of sparkly glitter, bubble gum, and venom. But it's not cheesy pop, it's emotional pop punk, inspirational and driven by a motorbike rumble of aggression Hayley developed during her Warped Tour days. Every teenage girl that doesn't aspire to be a cheerleader or sorority sister - the same types who read graphic novels and skate - continue to look to Hayley for catchy spirit revivers. Boys are equally mesmerized by her fighting spirit to defend her band, vent her aggression on the microphone, and defy the haters one bouncy rock 'n' roll anthem at a time. Hayley is the ultimate release for anyone too edgy for Taylor Swift and too bubbly for Courtney Love. She's just right.
Hayley seems absolutely immune to any outside criticism. She's not driven to prove that she's punk rock. In fact, she's punk rock because she's absolutely unwilling to be anything but herself. Whether she's releasing her own line of hair dye or proving that melting tights are still all the rage, Hayley seems to embody the notion that being punk isn't about doing drugs or smashing guitars, but an ability to be genuine, even if being that means embracing the color pink and talking about "big girl problems" on ukulele sing-alongs. Her Instagram account is littered with inspirational snippets from a girl daring enough, especially when the critics were questioning her DIY credentials, to cut a song like "Ain't it Fun," taking Paramore's sound in a more rhythm and blues direction. Well that's not very punk rock, or at least the perception of punk rock, which Hayley doesn't seem interested in mirroring; especially during a live show, where she transforms from a tiny 5' 2" pop crooner into an X-Men character with thick skin, super human powers, and bulletproof confidence. She's fearless and a shining example of how it's cool to just be yourself and love every second of it.
Hayley Williams continues to be one of a handful of women fronting a mainstream band. Seriously, even in 2014, it's a short list, and Hayley is on it along with the likes of Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches. While the music industry continues to objectify women by marketing them as a "girl singer," often favoring sex-appeal over talent, Hayley has managed to steer clear of record labels and managers looking to capitalize on a pretty face. Her talent, which includes vocal range that goes beyond almost any of our current pop stars, is all Hayley needs to hang with the boys. She's a force of nature on the stage, and along with her superior singing ability, could very well be the most powerful frontperson in music today. Hayley has always stood behind Paramore and fought for the artistic integrity of her band form the start, never allowing the industry to turn them into something they're not. For all it's worth, Hayley Williams is a feminist role model, without trying to be a feminist role model, and that's powerful stuff.
Signed to her first recording contract as a teenager, one would expect Hayley Williams to succumb to the same pitfalls of some of her peers who found early success. But Hayley has managed to stay strong in the face of endless pressure and temptation. She's straight edge (doesn't drink or take drugs), and for the most part, a homebody who spends her free time off the road with partner Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory. It all sounds pretty pedestrian for one of rock's most charismatic lead singers, but for Hayley, it's just part of being normal. She's proof that even with great success, which also comes with added pressures, one can still maintain their composure and keep it classy. Hayley is truly an exception to the rule, and for that reason, she is a role model for every aspiring star.
- Art Tavana