Hayley Williams' New Song "Simmer" is the Anthem We Need in 2020

You remember the band Paramore, right? In the mid-2000s, they were right up there with Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, and Panic! At The Disco in terms of popularity in the pop-punk music genre, thanks in part to their iconic 2007 banger “Misery Business” off their album “Riot!”. The music video for “Misery Business” is instantly recognizable for anyone who was a teen during the rise of pop-punk (or if you were a Tumblr user in 2014). In it, the band’s frontrunner, Hayley Willams, who was just 18 at the time,  sported teased orange and yellow dyed hair, a look that fully encapsulates the scene and emo subcultures of the time. The amount of emo vibes the image below radiates is off the charts.

But time passed, people stopped saying “rawr XD”, MCR broke up, Paramore’s band members changed, and pop-punk fell out of the mainstream. Paramore still continued releasing albums and touring across the country performing for their niche group of dedicated fans, of course. Over time, as the 2000s came to an end and the 2010s began,  the band leaned into the “pop” side of pop-punk music in order to keep up with the trends in music at the time. The band rose to prominence again in 2014 when their song “Ain’t It Fun” off their self-titled album peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and won the award for Best Rock Song at the 2015 Grammys.

And yet… Paramore still faded from people’s memory. Time passed. Members changed. The entire band fell apart and nearly broke up. 

Hayley Williams, in particular, was going through a lot personally and professionally: there was a lawsuit from one of her former band members, a wedding to her boyfriend of 8 years, an appearance in a Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video, a divorce, “lots of therapy”, and many, many different hair colors. 

Things changed, however, in 2016 and guitarist Taylor York (a childhood friend of Hayley’s and an official Paramore member since 2009) came to together to mess around and just play music together as friends. The two ended up writing a whole album’s worth of songs.  Songs with a new wave sound and somber themes that none of the band’s other ventures had explored before. They brought back their original drummer, Zac Farro, to rejoin the band. And so, Hayley, Taylor, and Zac could confidently declare that Paramore was back and better than ever. 

In May 2017, the band dropped their fifth studio album, After Laughter to wide acclaim. Its short year and a half long album cycle consisted of five tours all across the globe. Then, just as quickly as they reappeared, Paramore was gone again. In September 2018, the band went on hiatus with no implications on when or if they would return with new music. Updates from Hayley on social media were few and far between. Rumors among fans were rampant. Is Paramore really done this time? Until January 2020 came around.

Hayley announced her own solo project, separate from Paramore, which, she confirmed, was still on hiatus. Entitled “Petals For Armor”, the project’s first song “Simmer” was set to release on January 22nd, with a full album coming May 8th.

So, as Butler HerCampus’ resident Paramore stan, I think I’d be doing a disservice to the public if I didn’t air my thoughts on “Simmer” and my hopes for the upcoming “Petals For Armor”.

“Simmer” and its accompanying music video are deeply intertwined, but you don’t necessarily need to see the music video to experience the song for what it is. After a few listens, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that Hayley Williams’ new song is the release of the anger she’s been bottling in for many years, perhaps even since she entered the music industry when she was 18. It’s apparent right from the jump: “Rage is a quiet thing / you think that you’ve tamed it / but it’s just lying wait / rage, is it in our veins? / feel it in my face / when I least expect it”. 

The exploration of one’s anger is a very personal thing for Hayley, not just because she’s stated previously she has trouble expressing her feeling openly, but also because some lyrics are a direct reflection of her feelings on her ex-husband Chad Gilbert and the nature in which their marriage ended (see verse two of the song: “If I had seen my reflection / as something more precious / he would've never / and if my child needed protection / from a fucker like that man / I'd sooner gut him / 'Cause nothing cuts like a mother”). But just because “Simmer”’s lyrics are personal doesn’t mean they’re not relatable. I think a lot of women, including myself, hold a lot of anger towards someone or something. And because we are so often taught to never express that anger publicly, we end up carrying a hot, pulsating, fiery ball of difficult emotions inside our hearts of us that pleads louder and louder to be let out the longer you carry it. “Simmer” shows the listener that it’s okay to be angry, in fact, you should be angry and you should be able to express it without sacrificing your feminity. 

Feminity is another theme that Hayley explores in “Simmer” and in “Petals For Armor” as a whole. “Petals for armor” is a representation of feminity itself: flowers are soft, beautiful, delicate - typically traits associated with feminity. But Hayley, in “Simmer”, is learning to love her feminity and wear it as armor into battle. Her feminity is still soft and beautiful like flower petals, and it’s able to protect her in a world that can be cruel, dark, and absolutely ruthless. 

I think this message is really important, especially for women around my age. It’s so difficult to be vulnerable with your emotions when you’re going through your late teens and early 20s, a time period in everyone’s lives that is tumultuous in a number of ways. With so much going on and all the pressure from peers, family, friends, and even yourself to become independent, it’s incredibly easy to hold in intense emotions like anger. Whether it’s because you don’t want to burden others with your feelings or you’re afraid of even admitting your emotions to yourself, it’s something we’ve all done. And as I’m sure you know (or are learning, like Hayley) it’s not a great way of coping. Especially when dealing with something like anger. Sometimes, it’s more than appropriate to “simmer down” and leave your anger be. But other times, as Hayley says in “Simmer”, “there’s so many ways to give in”. So if you need to, give in to your emotions, whether they be anger or gentleness or somewhere in between. Hayley Williams has shown us all that you can take care of yourself while still being a badass bitch. I think that’s something we can definitely all vibe with in 2020.