I recently finished listening to Hayley Williams' new solo album. She's the lead singer of Paramore. I remember hearing their song "Only Exception" and being surprised but encouraged by its hopeful(?) message even in the midst of some very real doubts about love and relationships, especially since the band came across as being somewhat pessimistic about such topics. I admit I teared up a little.
Their more recent album "After Laughter" was a special treat for my grown-up self and gave me something upbeat to dance to as I experienced various highs and lows in my own life. It kind of felt like a sequel to another one of their songs ("Ain't it Fun") I remember being surprised by on an earlier album. Their song "Pool" on the After Laughter album was lost on me for a few years until recently, when I actually realized it was talking about jumping back into a stifling and toxic relationship rather than jumping back into a loving relationship that was worth the risks and challenges. When I truly heard the lyrics they made me tear up as well, but this time in horror. I think some people may listen to it though and think that love looks and feels like that: something painful, tormenting and lethal. I've since listened to a few of their most piercing songs on past albums and can recognize that they paint a picture of someone drowning, in denial, and jaded at what they thought was love. More tearing up. It makes me sad that these are songs many of us can relate to but also glad that someone knows how to capture these emotions and thrown them back at us- possibly forcing us to process them. One of the reasons I've appreciated After Laughter so much is because I have already been doing the hard work of processing through my relationships, etc. for years. The album has been an acknowledgement and affirmation that I have learned some tough lessons and can now celebrate or continue to move forward towards something better.
Hayley has since stated she was trying so hard to make Pool a love song but couldn't after almost 10 years of things not being quite what she thought they'd be. After listening to her new album and learning that there was quite a bit going on in the background of her relationships despite what things looked like on the outside (or despite her silence), I've become even more convinced that we are being sold lies about love, romance, and relationships. We're made to feel that we have to paint a rosy picture about relationships when, for many of us, everyday life is not so rosy in our relationships. Either way, Hayley has spoken out about taking care of her mental health and focusing on healthy relationships even though this is somewhat scary and new to her. I applaud her. Especially for acknowledging that her past relationships weren't healthy and that unhealthy relationships are not what we should aim for, seeing as she contemplated suicide and jeopardized her health as a result of staying in certain relationships (Should such sacrifices be made? I don't think so). Most don't make it as far as Hayley has. Additionally, the majority of people never share the downsides of the so-called "love" they are experiencing on a day-to-day basis. We learn how to be good pretenders and start to contemplate how many crumbs we can survive on, rather then choosing to go find a healthy and full meal elsewhere.
Her last song "Crystal Clear" is my favorite song on her album. I feel that it is coming from an honest place and I appreciate this. It redeems and clarifies both Pool and Only Exception. Summed up, it talks about being present and moving towards something that's better: Choosing healthy relationships whether that's friendship or something more. Additionally, although the album starts off in a place of rage or anger, it does not stay there. I repeat. It. Does. Not. Stay. There. Some fans definitely wish it had but I am not one of them. In order to move forward, we need to lighten our load. If we don't, it may kill us... It will definitely rob us of present and future joy.
Of course I've teared up, but this time it's with joy and a nod to Hayley- I see you girl. Keep on going. Don't give in to the fear.