An Apology to Hayley Williams and Paramore

A couple of years ago I caused quite a stir when I dissed the “shoddy vocals” of Hayley Williams and Gwen Stefani in a post titled “No Doubt and Paramore - The We Can’t Sing Live Tour?” Much to my surprise, as my audience here at GF5 tends to skew a bit closer to my own age, it wasn’t the No Doubt fans that came out in force to defend Gwen. Instead, it was the Paramore fans who came out early and often to defend Hayley.

As I said in that earlier piece, I’m a huge fan of the studio recordings of both groups. And I’m such a fan of what both singers can do in a controlled environment that I have followed Gwen Stefani’s solo career and gone nuts this summer over Hayley Williams’s collaboration with B.o.B. So, it’s not that I’m not a fan. I’m a pretty big fucking fan. Just check out my Top 25 Most Played Songs of 2008, where Paramore dominates the top 5. Or visit my Last.fm page and note that “Crushcrushcrush” is the second most played song in my collection since I started scrobbling, ‘round about 2007ish.

Anyway, the point here is that I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to reassess my earlier statement, and this weekend’s MTV Video Music Awards were a perfect opportunity. Though I didn’t see the show live, and though most of my friends on Twitter were bashing everything about the event (from the ill-timing of Taylor Swift’s anti-Kanye sentiments to the general lack of quality in the performances), I sought out the medley featuring Williams and Paramore the first chance I got.

I was pleasantly surprised to realize how wrong I was about Williams’s singing voice. Maybe I wasn’t always wrong. Maybe she’s improved. Whatever the case, the girl sang her ass off, both with B.o.B. and with her own band. I was impressed enough to go out and see if I could find more recent examples. I found a great unplugged take on “Ignorance” over on YouTube and tons more on Paramore’s MTV Music page.

So, here’s my apology to Hayley Williams, should she ever see it: Girl, you can sing live. I was wrong and all of your fans were right.

Of course, the debate over on that earlier post still rages on: should a person need to be able to sing well live anyway? Does that even matter anymore?