The punk rock band’s sound evolution has taken a giant leap from angsty punk rock teens singing about love dramas, high school troubles, and other coming-of-age problems to a more diverse sound, including soul and even gospel touches, as lead vocalist Hayley Williams sings about the harsh realities of life.
“Ain’t It Fun” is one track in particular on Paramore’s newest self-titled album that indicates just how far the group has come since (we hesitate to mention) the abrupt departure of the Farro brothers. This split resulted in the majority of creative control landing in Hayley Williams’ lap, since she became the band’s primary songwriter. As such, a lot more of her character has started to shine through in her vocal stylings, particularly in soulful aspects reminiscent of Michael Jackson circa “They Don’t Care About Us,” of this single. Williams pulls it off magnificently, especially in the chorus and refrains where she really lets lose and you can hear just how solid her chops are at this point in her vocal career.
Opening with a happy xylophone and a distorted guitar, coupled with a rubbery bass line and a phat six-member gospel choir that comes in half way through the song, “Ain’t It Fun” definitely pulls from a variety of influences that we haven’t heard Paramore tap into previously. Bassist Jeremy Davis said before the song was released, “After we started writing weird stuff like ‘Ain’t It Fun’, we got nervous. But that was a comfort. We’ve grown and we don’t like the same music we liked, so why would [our fans] not? That idea kept us pushing ourselves.” In addition to new musical diversity, the band also tackles subjects they haven’t yet broached.
The lyrics, written by Williams and guitarist Taylor York, were inspired by Williams’ feelings about having to relocate. While addressing the serious young adult experience of moving out and surviving on your own financial means for the first time, the lyrics are still delivered in the classic sarcastic punk way. “Don’t go crying to your mama ‘cause you’re on your own in the real world,” the choir and Williams ring out, challenging the listener to handle the difficulties that life inevitably throws at you. Williams said, “I took off for L.A. as if it was going to be some kind of paradise or saving grace. I got there and realized that my problems were following me. Okay, so I was having a bad six months? Get over it.”
The song as a whole is more than fun to listen to, the kind you could play on repeat as you get pumped to face the reality of the world every day. Applicable to feelings related to moving, graduating, breaking up, and though all of which are rather heavy topics, “Ain’t It Fun” has a sunny, positive vibe to it that makes you want to dance despite all the earnest problems you have to face. Considered a different direction from the band’s previous work, veteran Paramore fans may not be entirely pleased with the new wave/funk rock style of this single, however the evolution of a band’s sound is crucial to its survival. And who’s to say they’ve given up entirely on their punk rock origins?