ATP! Killin' It: Hayley Williams
Hayley Williams is arguably the most important woman in the pop/rock community. In a scene still heavily dominated by males, Williams has paved the way to involve more ladies in pop/rock. When popular magazines like Alternative Press compare a female-fronted band to another in the industry, Paramore is always mentioned, because there aren’t that many other groups to talk about. Nowadays, with bands like We Are The In Crowd and Tonight Alive getting bigger, the future of females in the genre seems to be looking bright. But it all started with Hayley.
In the early days, Williams faced a lot of sexism for being the female frontwoman of a band full of guys. “I think some of them didn’t know how to handle a girl being in a position of authority,” she told Rolling Stone. Female bands are often marked with the girl being the sex appeal of the band, or another pretty face. Williams steers clear of that, and leads the band with her sheer amount of talent. Her voice is one, if not the absolute best, of the voices in music today, with an insane range and soaring high notes. Instead of using backing tracks like some other female singers, she sings her stuff live, sounding even better than she does on recorded music.
Even after the departure of two of Paramore’s founding members, Williams and her band decided to keep on doing the thing they loved most and made the best album of Paramore’s career as a trio. Never one to follow outside pressure, Williams has a writing credit on every song on Paramore, along with guitarist Taylor York.
“We’ve never done anything that doesn’t feel real to us,” Williams told Rolling Stone. “We wouldn’t just throw all of the things we’ve been through and all of the people we’ve played for out the window just to have a successful song.”
Some have criticized the Paramore self-titled album for being too pop, yet the album was an experiment of various genres, with 17 tracks including instrumentals and interludes. An ambitious experiment, the self-titled album ultimately solidified that Williams wasn’t going to do what anyone expected, and Paramore would be whatever the band wanted it to be, regardless of what anyone else thought. She’s not just a talent in Paramore, either. She’s been sought out for features on various other songs, like Zedd’s “Stay The Night” in 2013. Critics highlighted her soaring vocals and it became a huge hit, selling over a million copies in the United States alone. Her voice can transcend genres, exposing followers of Paramore and her voice to new types of music they might not have experienced before.
As a tribute for being a “standout female artist who breaks from convention to make a unique mark in music and pave the way for other talent,” according to the Billboard website, the company awarded Williams the first-ever Trailblazer award at the Billboard Music Awards. This proves that the industry is recognizing Williams for her awesomeness and all the things she’s done to help out other women in music.
She’s shown that it’s possible to be a woman headlining a hugely successful band, and to be respected by the music industry, instead of being turned into the sexy frontwoman stereotype. She gives girls who may want to start a band a role model to show that it’s possible to be successful while keeping your integrity and staying true to yourself, no matter what.
“I can remember a time when I would’ve been made fun of for doing things differently. Now I’m getting an award for it? This is too much,” Williams told Billboard. “There are women in this industry who totally bulldozed walls down for the likes of me to come along and do what I believe in. I want to be that for even one girl in the future.”
We think it’s safe to say she’s already there.
Words by Lauren Jones