So it's official: Paramore is a manufactured band. Rather, a manufactured vehicle fueled by the star power of Hayley Williams.
During an interview with MTV over the weekend, Williams and her remaining bandmates didn't deny claims that Williams was signed to a major label at age 14, before the band was formed. This gave credence to statements made by former band members Josh and Zack Farro after their recent departure: that Williams was groomed for the position of rock's reigning princess by label bigwigs, managers and overbearing stage fathers.
Williams, the only member of Paramore signed to Atlantic Records, admitted the full band was signed to a subsidiary of Atlantic, Fueled By Ramen, that ostensibly lent the quintet the illusion of indie credibility and organic growth. This duped unwitting or indifferent fans, who just see a redheaded songstress sporting Minor Threat T-shirts and covering Sunny Day Real Estate songs, into thinking they were listening to independently minded punk music.
Now that shimmering veneer is cracked. Why should people care? So what if Paramore's origin story is a tad inauthentic? Pitchfork Media reported folk-rock troubadour Will Oldham, a.k.a. Bonnie Prince Billy, argued in a recent interview that such a brutal truth should be of no shock to music fans and is par for the course. The concept of music as a commodity should be accepted as a reality, in line with any number of life's other realities such as female flatulence and defecation. Keep reading. This will make sense shortly.
Now I know what most of you are already thinking: “Brandon, where do you get off? You are a no-talent hack who sits behind a computer all day, and Paramore are a band who write catchy songs and give audiences lively performances night after night.”
I couldn't agree with you more.
I realize now I was raised with über-idealistic aspirations on artistic integrity as well as the intended purpose of rock & roll. Somewhere along the line, I naively came to the conclusion that art was about revealing life's truths through the use of one's skill and creativity in a process free of the considerations of commerce.
I also realize that my view of Paramore as a prefabricated, pseudo-punk group who are easily influenced and utilized by corporate interests such as Honda Motor Co. for the purpose of marketing automobiles is irrelevant. All that matters is they sing catchy songs. Ba da ba ba ba da ba ba da.
Let's face it. Everyone on this planet needs to make a buck. So what if by using their talents, be it a song, photograph or a trademark logo to sell a product, artists profit from their own creations?
Most fans understand and accept that their favorite bands represent the same entrepeneurial spirit embodied by people such as Bill Gates and Walt Disney. And perhaps no one has summed it up more poetically than the aforementioned Bonnie Prince Billy. “Making records is commerce, and it's about fooling yourself as a writer and a performer and fooling the audience into not thinking about it and accepting it,” Billy said. Then, with the eloquence possessed by only the keenest of hipsters, the grizzled songster went on to say, “It's like when you walk down the street and say, 'Look at that girl's ass; it's so great.' You're ignoring the fact that she farts and shits out of that ass. It's the same thing.”
Expertly said. You can't blame people for pinching excrement from their sphincters, no matter how revolting the process.
And this scatological argument applies to most bands out there, whether it's Paramore playing their little hearts out for Honda or Billy Corgan telling Visa customers today is the greatest. We live in a capitalist society in which no one is immune from the relentless siren call of material wealth. Perhaps artists, who typically inhabit the bottom rung of the commerce ladder, have to claw twice as hard for their slice of the pie when given their shot. And who can justifiably stick it to a performer for taking that shot when it's handed to that person on a platter at 14 years old?