Hayley Williams is a Musical Genius: Paramore’s “This is Why” is the Greatest Album Ever Written


Zachary Gray

Paramore’s “This is Why” album cover. Photographed by Zachary Gray, courtesy of Atlantic Records

On February 10, Paramore released their sixth studio album, “This is Why”, the band’s first album in nearly 6 years. The album has already achieved great success, receiving high praise and fantastic reviews from folks inside the music industry.

I want to take a second and give an honest—albeit very biased—review as a fan of not just Paramore, but a die-hard Hayley Williams apologist for almost an entire decade.

I’ve had a running joke with one of my best friends from middle school, that once Paramore and Fall Out Boy released new music, we would both finally be able to die peacefully. It was all we wanted. We were stupid teenagers who only cared about our stupid little emo bands, and now we’re adults who have made it out to the other side and it’s actually happening.

It’s so interesting to me that we have been begging for this new music for half a decade, and it’s finally here, and it is phenomenal. Plus, by the time this article is published there will be a new Fall Out boy album as well, which will be their first album in five years. Somebody pinch me.

The first single and title track “This is Why” has been stuck in my head basically 24/7 since its release back in September. Shortly after this song came out, one of my friends who is very fond of hair dye asked if she could use my hair as a canvas to do some experiments on and ended up dying my hair orange. I didn’t even make the connection until a few days later when my friend told me I was in my “Hayley Williams era.”

I really took the end of the hiatus to heart without even registering it. And for good reason, this is a no-skip album. I have listened to it practically non-stop since its release and this has resulted in Paramore immediately becoming my top spotify artist for the last 4 weeks.

I have been a huge fan of Paramore since their self-titled album released in May of 2013, when I had just turned 11 and was finishing up 2nd grade. Paramore’s next album was “After Laughter” which was released in 2017, when I was 14 years old and at the end of my freshman year in high school. I am now 21 and a junior in college, so it’s safe to say that this new album has been in high anticipation for me for a very long time.

Every one of these albums has been released during very poignant times in my early life and childhood development, and despite so many years between them, and being a completely different person at every point, I keep coming back, and I’m still not exactly sure why. It’s almost like I am under a spell to give Hayley Williams all of my money until the day I die, and honestly I’m here for it.

My favorite tracks at the time of writing are a three-way tie between “Figure 8”, “Running out of Time”, and “The News”. All of these songs are very blatantly about the fallacies that are commonplace with simply being a human.

“Figure 8” is about toxic relationships, and feeling like you are running in circles trying to keep everything from falling apart. It covers a pretty heavy topic of destroying yourself for another person’s benefit, and the negative side of that dynamic.

“Running out of Time” is a self-proclaimed diss-track about Hayley’s poor time management skills. We get a glimpse into how Hayley is afraid of change, which results in having no desires or passions that motivate her to get out of bed.

“The News” is a poignant take on how the news cycle right now is almost painful to listen to, but the fear of being ill-informed about current events forces you to keep paying attention despite it sometimes being detrimental to your mental health to keep seeing all of the negative media coverage.

The whole album follows similar narrative themes, as Williams expresses her newfound frustrations with the world. Her inability to possess control over situations in life, feeling like everything is spiraling out of her control, and also the fear of change and the unknown are all topics that are not shied away from, but instead are covered openly and honestly.

Alongside all this, a common theme running through the album is societal issues and political tensions causing anxieties in the younger generation. There are many young people who are afraid of what the future will hold, fear of social collapse, global warming, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and the overall panic and disarray associated with the world in its current state. They are simply paralyzed and have no idea what to do to make the situation better.

These are all things that are unfortunately very topical and painfully relatable for Paramore’s core demographic of formerly emo gay teenagers, and now young adults. Paramore has done a fantastic job evolving over time and growing up alongside their audience, not in spite of them. “This Is Why” will go down in history as one of the greatest albums of the 2020’s, and in my very biased opinion, is definitely the best album to come out in 2023 thus far.

“This is Why” serves as an album for those anxious people, reminding you that it is okay to be scared, and that it is okay to have fun while you still can, despite all of the negativity in the world. Because no matter what happens in the long run, we are still only here for a short while.

I am a sucker for sad songs that sound happy. They give me an excuse to dance around like a lunatic while thinking about starting a political uprising or stressing over the inevitable heat-death of the universe, and Hayley Williams is a musical genius who knows just the right formula to do that.