Thursday, 10 October 2013

Understanding Paramore

It's safe to say that over the years, Paramore have undergone a lot of changes. In 2004, Hayley Williams, Jeremy Davis, Taylor York and Josh and Zak Farro formed the American alternative/punk rock band. In 2005 their first album 'All We Know Is Falling' came out featuring the track 'Pressure' (seen below). The track was so popular that a 'simlish' version was featured in the game 'Sims 2', which for many, including myself, was the first anyone had heard of Paramore. As you can tell, this is not the video of a super established band, but things soon changed.

Paramore's next album 'Riot!', released in 2007, was really what established the band. For many fans, 'Riot!' still continues to be the favourite album as it best embodies the alternative/punk rock style. 'Misery Business' was probably the most popular song of the album as well as Hayley Williams' favourite. The song features an immediatly identifiable guitar intro and the band's soon recurring motif of distinctive lyrics. The video itself is quite obviously thought about way more clearly than 'Pressure'.

There is a much clearer narrative, intersected with editing that displays it in equal measures to shots of the entire band, featuring mostly however around Hayley. Her hair and makeup is a lot 'louder': the colour contrast has been increased to accentuate this. Above all there is a very strong sense of motion. the editing is extremely fast paced and the camera rarely keeps still either featuring a pan, zoom or tilt in virtually every shot. There is a heavy element of 'looking' as a series of shot/reverse shots follow the perspectives of the characters of the video (particularly to illustrate the reactions of the 'bitch' character's actions in more detail). Also, Hayley looks in to the camera for the majority of time she is seen singing, as it typical. However at one point, she actually grabs hold of the camera a few times, shaking the lens into view so that the audience are reminded that she is aware of our presence.

 'Crushcrushcrush' was also a killer hit from the 'Riot!' album. It again features a lot of movement however it is toned down quite a bit to fit with the tempo of the music. The movement then in this case comes through the band members and actors in majority, although the camera (for the majority) still does not just stay still. There is also still high contrasting colour: Hayley's orange hair stands out bright against the pale blues of the background. There is also a play, once more, on the aspect of 'looking'. We see a couple of men with telescopes and binoculars looking at the band and looking seedy with their mouths wide open and smiling.

'Brand New Eyes'
In 2009, Paramore released 'Brand New Eyes'. At this point they had managed to establish themselves globally and it was clear that Paramore was now more than the punk rock band they had begun as. 'Brand New Eyes' featured tracks that began to expand from the genre. Some of the songs though just as brilliant, were taking on a softer alternative styling. Some may argue that they were all the more better for it as instead of defining them by genre, you would define Paramore as Paramore.

This video for 'Brick By Boring Brick' once again follows a clear narrative except compared to 'Misery Business', there is more focus to it in comparison to the band focus. Hayley is the only member of the band really seen, and rather than being separated, she is placed within the narrative world. Though the effects are at some points quite cheesy, there has been quite clear effort to create more synaesthesia. The video is more amplifying - you see a big hole being dug on 'we'll dig a deep hole', the girl in the video wear butterfly wings while it's heard that she's 'ripping wings off of butterflies' - which overall does make it more engaging. There was a step taken in this video to show that they were trying something new, especially as Hayley's trademark orange hair had been replaced by flowing platinum blonde.

'Playing God' took the focus back to the band a little, featuring them in a story where they'd all been imprisoned by Hayley. Again we can see hints of amplifying visuals, during 'the way I, way I see it' Hayley glares at each of the band members with a magnifying glass. At one point also, she is seen looking into a mirror and after each line Josh Farro echoes 'I'll point you to the mirror'. These few shots also have a deeper layer of relevance as they resemble the back cover of the album (link) with the empty frames seen surrounding the mirror. This little link back to the album is also seen in the video for 'The Only Exception' as seen below (probably on account of the fact that they shared the same director: Brandon Chesbro).

Compared to some earlier videos, the entire feel of this one is a lot softer to match the feel of the song. The lighting is a lot softer and the cuts are quite few. Long takes allow the video to flow more in accordance with the music.

From Five to Three
In December of 2010, Josh and Zak decided that they would be leaving the band. This changed a lot of how Paramore was now percieved, mainly as the reason for their leaving was probably due to the amount of focus placed on Hayley. Then in June 2011, 'Monster' was released, the first song to not feature contribution from the Farro brothers.
There a very strong focus on each of the band members again (however Hayley is still prominant) and extra care has been taking to provide particularly striking visuals to go along with the music e.g. lamp firing sparks, striking the wall. I feel that overall it made a really big statement - they wanted their audience to know that Paramore was still strong as ever and I feel they proved it well (at least with this visual delivery).

Most recently, the new and smaller Paramore released their long anticipated album named simply 'Paramore'. Though still inkeeping with the Paramore 'motif', they had still managed to stretch a little further out of the typical American punk-rock sound.

'Now' came out as an album preview, serving very well as a taste of what was to come. The concept of the video is simple yet so unbelievably effective. The editing is very in-keeping with the sound again (it is another prime example of effective synaesthesia) and works so incredibly to grip your attention. It is very loud and makes quite a potent statement; a statement which says 'we are back.'

'Still Into You' received a lot of mixed reception. Some of the audiences liked how they were seeing a new, but still very Paramore sound whereas others felt the track (and, to a further extent, the album) was far too 'pop' for what they were expecting. I would argue that Paramore have never truly succumbed to the genre they happened to fit in but instead made the music they wanted. Now, I would consider them alternative rock. However, even this feels too defining, hence why I have chosen to take this look at Paramore and the potential audiences they have, rather than the audiences of the specific genre.

They are fun, they are loud, they are creative, visually stunning and absolutely BURSTING with emotion. And I feel, most importantly, that that is what I should bear in mind when developing and filming my video.

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