The first solo LP from Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams arrives as her maiden No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart, as Petals for Armor bows atop the May 23-dated survey.
The set starts with 22,000 equivalent album units earned in its first week, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. Of that sum, 17,000 units are via album sales. […]
With her solo coronation, Williams is the first woman to have led Top Rock Albums both on her own and with a group.
Now that the generation who loved Paramore and saw what Hayley meant at the time are the professional critics, and also probably owing to the increased accountability for blatant sexism within this music scene, we’re seeing a shift in critical evaluation of Paramore, finally some recognition of how brilliant they’ve always been. That might play a part in Hayley’s shedding that shame, but probably it’s mostly that she’s grown older, has been through some shit, and is ready to claim the confidence in her role that she has always deserved. It seems to me that that is what has allowed even for her to not have to utter the phrase ‘solo record’ as if it’s a dirty word, let alone to create one, and one that is this honest, expressive (both emotionally and musically) and unapologetic. It’s a triumph, one that is deeply rewarding to witness.
This was an instant subscribe for me.
Eve Barlow, writing at Vulture:
The pop-punk and emo scene in the early 2000s. It was brutally misogynistic. A lot of internalized sexism, and even when you were lucky enough to meet other bands who were kind and respectful, there was other shit that wasn’t. And I was really feisty. We got offered Warped tour, and there was a caveat: “It’s a stage called the Shiragirl Stage. It’s all female.” I was pissed! I wanted to qualify for a real stage. When I’ve been offered female opportunities, it feels like a backhanded compliment. But people sometimes think that’s anti-feminist, that I don’t wanna be grouped in with the girls. As a 16-year-old who had dreams of playing with the big boys, it felt like we were being slighted.
Dude, yeah. Summer of condoms, 2006. I got condoms thrown at me. In 2005, I wore T-shirts every day. In 2006, I was a little more comfortable. I’d wear a tank top. But my chest was exposed. We were in San Diego or San Francisco, and a condom flew at me, and it stuck to my chest while I performed. I was so embarrassed. I started talking shit because I was so young and arrogant. I don’t think I was wrong. It’s just I have more anxiety now than I did at 16.
Anyway, yeah, the entire thing is fantastic and worth reading.
Hayley remembers being very sensitive about being singled out: “Being female and fronting an all-male band was like throwing your soul to the wolves. People didn’t know how to take you — if your supposed power meant that they should be intimidated or inspired. In the midst of all of that there’s just a tension. Sometimes I didn’t want that.” What she did want was for the band to be recognised as a pack: for their connection to each other, or at least for their songwriting abilities. “All these reviews would come out that would paint me as some sort of dictator in a band setting, or as a brat – it’s because I was a female, really,” she says, calmly, adding that she learnt a lot from the experience. “I’m not bitter about it but I grew up understanding that I was a little kid wearing a demon costume that I couldn’t see but everyone else could.”
“We wanted to approach this differently from anything Paramore had done,” says Mercado. “The truth is, the material necessitated it.” While the band has long released its music through Warner Music Group-owned punk label Fueled By Ramen, Williams set Petals For Armor apart by releasing it on Warner’s Atlantic Records, where chairman/COO Julie Greenwald assembled an entirely new, nearly all-female team for the project. “When it’s a new set of eyes, it’s all fresh thinking,” Greenwald says. “Every part of this campaign is reading, ‘I am Hayley Williams.’”
The gradual rollout has also allowed the team flexibility at a time when that’s proven especially crucial. Amid the pandemic, Williams was able to make the last-minute decision to release the Part II tracks piecemeal instead of all at once, offering fans in lockdown something new to look forward to every week. With each song, she has released treats like behind-the-scenes clips, Instagram dance tutorials and cinematic music videos, several of which build on a storyline in which Williams enters and escapes an insect-like chrysalis.