With one album, thousands of road miles and accolades in the music press under their belts, Paramore were already looking like veterans of the pop-punk and emo scenes in 2007. The fact they were all still teenagers belied the songwriting prowess already demonstrated by, in particular, frontwoman Hayley Williams in the run up to the release of their second album, Riot! While the band have made much of the fact that they are just that – a band, as their leader scrawled on T-shirts, Blondie-style – there’s no escaping that it’s Williams who set Paramore apart from anything else in the scene in the mid-2000s.
Listen to ‘Riot!’ here.
“You know what? There hasn’t been a girl in rock for so long”
Until that point, emo and pop-punk was dominated by the likes of Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco. There was plenty of superficial appeal about these groups for female fans – they were essentially marketed as boy bands with guitars. But for those who dug a little deeper, the lyrical content of their music could increasingly be perceived as unwelcoming to females – a breeding ground for misogyny, even, given the propensity for painting women as lying cheats. Not that Williams was intimidated by any of that. Even at 17 years old – as she was during the early gestation of Riot! – she knew who she was, where she wanted to go and exactly what it would take to get there.
The industry surrounding the band, too, saw a gap in the market. “I listened to [Paramore’s debut album] All We Know Is Falling, and I thought Hayley was sensational,” Riot!’s producer, David Bendeth, told Billboard in 2017. “There was a song on there called Emergency and I thought [it] was really good. I was like, you know what? There hasn’t been a girl in rock for so long. There were lots of pop girls, Britney Spears and everything else, but there were no rock girls.” It was a hole that Williams knew exactly how to fill.