Paramore’s Hayley Williams Took Accountability for Her Slut-Shaming Lyric in “Misery Business”

Hayley Williams is a singer, songwriter, and pop culture personality who became popular as the frontwoman for the rock band Paramore. A staple of the early 2000s pop culture scene, Paramore was responsible for songs like “The Only Exception” and “Ain’t It Fun.”

Their sound, a blend of rock fusion and pop, made the band popular with music fans of all ages. Although Paramore’s lineup has changed a few times, the group remains active in the music business.

Williams herself is a feminist icon, a powerful rock princess who marches to the beat of her own drum. Still, she has ended up in hot water a few times, most notably over the lyrics included in Paramore’s hit song “Misery Business.” 

How did Hayley Williams become a musician?

Hayley Williams of Paramore performs at Radio 104.5 Performance Theater October 9, 2017 in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
Hayley Williams of Paramore | Bill McCay/Getty Images

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Williams was born in Mississippi in 1988. In 2002, Williams moved to Franklin, Tennessee, where she met her future bandmates, Josh and Zac Farro. She began taking voice lessons at school, and not long after, she discovered that she had a real talent for performing. Williams tried out for a few local bands.

In 2003, she was discovered by some Nashville-based music producers. Not long after this, Williams formed the band, Paramore, with Josh and Zac Farro.

The group’s debut album, All We Know Is Falling, was released in 2005. At the time, Williams was only 16 years old. She, along with her bandmates, was catapulted to fame, and she has remained in the spotlight ever since. 

Hayley Williams rose to fame in the band Paramore

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In 2007, Paramore released the album Riot!, which served as the vehicle to superstardom for the group. The album spawned several hit singles, including “Crushcrushcrush” and “Misery Business” — the latter becoming one of Paramore’s biggest songs to date. The Riot! album ended up getting certified Platinum and earned the group several awards and nominations.

In the years since that album was first released, Paramore has curated three more studio albums and is reportedly hard at work on another one. The lineup has undergone several changes, but Williams has remained at the forefront of the group the whole time — always doing her own thing and making a strong impression, even as she has grown and matured. 

What did Hayley Williams say about the problematic lyrics in ‘Misery Business’?

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As much as fans love Paramore, some of their lyrics have been slammed from time to time -most notably, the seemingly slut-shaming lyrics in the hit song “Misery Business.” After critics took to Twitter in recent years to decry the song’s lyrics and message, Paramore even decided to pull the song from most of their live performances.

Williams has addressed the controversy, telling Track 7 in 2017 that, in spite of the song’s lyrics (which includes lines like “once a whore, you’re nothing more / I’m sorry that’ll never change”) she’s still a “proud feminist.”

As Williams stated: “It was important, however, for me to show humility in that moment. I was a 17-year-old kid when I wrote the lyrics in question and if I can somehow exemplify what it means to grow up, get information, and become any shade of ‘woke’, then that’s a-okay with me.”

She also explained that she’s fine with taking accountability: “I do like to know at the end of the day that I tried to do the right thing. For whatever reason, I believe I was supposed to have written those backwards words and I was supposed to learn something from them… years later.”