Queens of a Pair: A Paramore Story by Heather Rolfert
Tread lightly; shattered dreams lay scattered about.
Music, a world of love and wondrous lives;
harsh, for tears of sorrow are imminent.
The heart longs for beating, for chances to thrive,
unknowing desire is innocent.
We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of hope as Paramore fans waited for a new song release. One year passed. Then two. It was easy for fans to believe they’d soon hear an announcement for a new song. They thought pure optimism would eventually be rewarded. But, even the most devoted fan gives up. Friends and family, we are here today to honor those lost souls.
Five years steadily passed by us since After Laughter. We waited up each night for shooting stars with our eyes closed tightly and our hands folded together as we mumbled “I wish … I wish … I wish …”
But with every wish for a new song nothing happened. Nothing except radio silence.
But, even the smallest, less optimistic wish was eventually heard. Something finally broke through the silence. Something we forgot we were even excited about once upon a long time ago.
Our hope. Our hope as Paramore fans returned in the form of a new song called This Is Why.
Now, we no longer stand in the pouring rain, staring down at what we once used to be. We’ve welcomed Paramore back into the music world, and the band continued a story we thought ended nine years ago with Paramore, the band’s self-titled album.
The only way to start this story is with “Once upon a time …”
Once upon a time, in a world where things weren’t fantastical, there was a girl — who we’ll name Camilla — who lived in a world of her own creation. Camilla didn’t care if someone told her that she wasn’t a queen. She didn’t even care if her best friend, Hayley Williams, corrected her over and over. She was a queen. She could boss around anyone she wanted to, whether or not she had to cast away all who used to call her a friend.
Conversations never went anywhere between the Camilla and Hayley:
“Look at this lovely crown upon my head. If you look up into it, you can see yourself kneeling before me.”
“There’s no crown, Camilla. You only think you see a crown.”
“No. You're mistaken, Hayley. I have a beautiful gold and ruby crown balanced on my beautiful red hair.”
“Again, you’re just imagining it. No one crowned you queen of their lives. I especially didn’t.”
Camilla’s repeated subjugation, forcing her so-called friends, like Hayley, to set aside their own wishes and desires, which only led to harsh feelings she couldn’t control. She struggled to get everything back within her grasp, even looking to Hayley for guidance. But, Camilla had already lost Hayley. It was clear now that Hayley knew she needed an army to win the war against an imposter queen.
Quickly, Camilla’s beloved make-believe kingdom began to crumble with each strike to its exterior. Strike. Strike. Strike. With each word becoming harsher with each new soldier, Hayley belted out and struck, with Paramore’s 2013 Ain’t It Fun, directly at Camilla. The queen. Her so-called friend.
“Ain’t it good to be on your own?
Ain’t it fun? You can’t count on no one
Ain’t it good to be on your own?
Ain’t it fun? You can’t count on no one
Ain’t it fun?
Living in the real world.”
Camilla’s crown began to break. The gold flaked away one glittering piece of dust at a time. The rubies shattered into thousands of red shards. The crown itself broke into millions of unrecognizable pieces, reflecting Camilla in the broken, jagged pieces.
Camilla desperately clung to the remaining bits of her kingdom until Hayley concluded with the final harsh feelings of the song:
“(‘Cause the world don’t orbit around you)
Ain’t it good? (Ain’t it good?)
Being all alone.”
In that story, good eventually triumphed over bad. But bad still found a way to eventually creep its way back into the story. And again, the compulsion to begin the next story with "Once Upon a time …" returns.
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Hayley who lived through the rise and fall of Queen Camilla and her make-believe kingdom. Hayley conquered the queen, working with others to dethrone her and end her reign for good. She even smiled when she realized the world would be released from Camilla's controlling grasp.
Of course, there wouldn’t be much of a story here if life worked out like planned. Camilla may have been defeated and forced to be alone, but she still made life for Hayley seem more like a punishment. Queen Camilla’s reign was gone, but she could still spread her influence.
Influence in the form of scars.
Trying as Hayley might to move on, she realized that her trust in people had deteriorated beyond recognition. She had no idea how to spot genuine friendship. It was as if years spent suffering with demanding as a friendship trait took that ability away from her. It became even clearer to her as she began to write down the opening lyrics to Paramore’s 2022 “This Is Why”:
“If you have an opinion
Maybe you should shove it
Or maybe you could scream it
Might be best to keep it.”
Everyone else around Hayley could spot all the flaws she thought she kept hidden.
No one wanted to befriend her: a person who always questioned and second-guessed herself.
No one wanted to hang out with her: a person who ended up leaving all her friends behind in favor of an introverted night.
No one wanted to talk to her: a person who made no effort to keep the conversation moving past its awkward stages.
As bad as it was, Hayley was okay with shielding herself. She didn’t mind being overly cautious, as if one wrong step would ruin her life even more. She broke Camilla's crown, forcing Camilla to accept reality and spend life alone, so it only seemed fitting that she’d find herself alone in the scary world called reality.
Nothing, even if it is a good deed, functions without consequences.
Hayley may end up living a life where she feels like it pours every single day.
She may never experience the pull of finding her true love or experience the moment when she realizes she’s been talking to her best friend for hours.
She may never speak out to override a terrible change or feel the gentle guidance of nature all around her when she needs a break.
She may never be the one who dances at concerts or be the one who explores the world around her to find all its hidden possibilities and little gems.
Hayley would love to ditch the rain and embrace life. She’d love to, but she can’t. Not when her mind still sees life as one huge obstacle that she will never conquer. That’s especially clear when she sings the rest of “This Is Why”:
“One step beyond your door
It might as well have been a free fall
One step beyond your door
Falling down an endless hall.”
Hayley feels like she’s vastly different from Queen Camilla. She believes her and Camilla share no similarities, just like dandelions could never become lilies. She believes that if she looks in the mirror, she’ll never see the queen.
But, she’s really only deceiving herself here.
She’s running from the truth.
She and Camilla are the same.
They’re queens of a pair.