Xue: This is why you should listen to ‘This is Why’


Atlantic Records

This is Why is the latest studio album from the indie-rock band Paramore.

Iris Xue, Staff Writer

Paramore, one of America’s most noteworthy rock groups, dropped their first new album in six years, “This is Why,” and the title track proves they are back and better than ever.

Since their bright, pop-like album After Laughter released in 2017, the band has been on hiatus, even sparking rumors of a split. During the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, band members Hayley Williams, Taylor York and Zac Farro focused on their personal careers, with Williams releasing two solo albums, Petals for Armor and Flowers for Vases/Descanos.

When Paramore reunited in 2021, the members decided to capture the effects of living through lockdown in their sixth album, This is Why, released on Feb. 10. To tease their fanbase of what was to come, they released the title track in early fall, which brilliantly captures the faceted effects of lockdown on an individual’s psyche, a prevalent theme throughout the record.

The first time I listened to “This is Why,” I thought it was an odd mashup of noise, a collection of dramatic guitars and drums paired with vocals on the verge of screaming. However, I appreciated the song’s intricate facets and musical character upon a second listen, and I believe the song appeals to a wide audience, not just Paramore’s original fans.

The single starts with a strong, almost retro electric guitar followed by a steady drumbeat before Williams begins to sing. Her opening lines lure the listener into a moment of peace as she drawls, “If you have an opinion / Maybe you should shove it / Or maybe you could scream it / Might be best to keep it / To yourself (to yourself) / To yourself (to yourself).” Though they may seem simple upon the first listen, these lyrics candidly address Paramore’s perspective on the divisive nature of opinions in the world today.

After building tension in those opening lines, Williams slams the audience with the chorus. She declares, “This is why I don’t leave the house / You say the coast is clear / But you won’t catch me out.” These lines are intensely relatable to the audience, and the band pairs them with a more aggressive guitar accompaniment. These lyrics hit even harder in the music video, where Williams jerks dramatically, adding to the song’s inherent angst.

This tension is explored throughout the track, with Williams’ vocals drifting from the blissful verses to the passionate choruses. By the end of the song, the listener is enraptured by the lyrics and accompaniment. The last frame of the music video represents the lasting impact of the song, with Williams smearing more lipstick on her already stained face, leaving a metaphor of loss and desperation as listeners wonder about their own interactions with society.

Though the song is enjoyable on its own, the context and inspiration add to its complexity and musical character. For instance, the verses about the opinionated nature of society are indirect references to Paramore’s activism. In past years, Paramore has advocated for the Black Lives Matter movement and LGBTQ+ rights, and these lyrics capture their perspective on the issue: If you don’t share their opinion, it might be best to keep it to yourself.

In addition, the chorus, which refers to staying in the house and refusing to open up to the world, represents Paramore’s experience with public criticism. After the release of After Laughter, Paramore fans complained the band transitioned away from their popular sound, which caused the band members, particularly Williams, to step back from social media platforms. The chorus of this song also ties back to the band’s personal experiences with mental health. Even before COVID-19, the band took an extended rest to recuperate from the toils of traveling in the After Laughter tour, which eventually led to a hiatus. Staying home effectively allowed members a shield from a harsher society, as expressed in the chorus.

Regardless, “This is Why” is a powerful single with striking lyrics on an eclectic, chaotic record. It guarantees an enthralling new era for the already popular band, offering just a taste of the album as a whole. In the meantime, you probably won’t be caught outside your house as you listen to this brilliant track.