Paramore are back in the “Misery Business.” More than four years after singer Hayley Williams announced that they would stop performing one of their signature songs “for a really long time” in the midst of the #MeToo movement amid backlash over what some people labeled sexist lyrics — including a reference to another woman as a “whore” — the 2007 track was back in rotation this weekend.
At a show in Bakersfield, California on Sunday “Misery” was on the set list for the first time since 2018, with Williams explaining to the crowd why the group felt confident slotting it back in. “F–k it,” the singer said before launching into the lead single from the band’s second album, 2007’s Riot!, as the audience erupted in joy. And, when it came to the controversial line — “Second chances they don’t ever matter, people never change/ Once a whore, you’re nothing more” — Williams let the audience take over on vocals briefly.
“Four years ago, we said we were gonna retire this song for a little while, and I guess technically we did,” the singer said during a mid-song breakdown. “But what we did not know was that, just about five minutes after I got canceled for saying the word ‘whore’ in a song, all of TikTok decided that it was OK. Make it make sense.”
Williams then reminisced about the good old days on the then “really small” band’s MySpace page, before “Misery” was released, when they noticed some fans were calling themselves “ParaWhores.” “And we were like, ‘ugh, that’s weird,'” she recalled. “I guess what I’m trying to say is… it’s a word. And if you’re cool, you won’t call a woman a whore because that’s bulls–t. We can all learn from ourselves, right? Just for the record, 90% of you said ‘whore’ tonight. That’s all I’m gonna say – I’m not gonna preach about it. I’m just gonna say thank you for being nostalgic about this because this is one of the coolest moments of our show and it’s very nice to feel like there’s a reason to bring it back that’s positive.”
The singer then handed her mic to superfan Brandy in the front row at Mechanics Bank Arena, encouraging her to sing as if all the people in the room came to see her show. “But God, does it feel good/ ‘Cause I got him where I want him now,” Brandy yelled as the audience backed her up on the song written by the then-17-year-old Williams about a teenage love triangle gone sideways.
After several years of stepping back from the tune over what she felt was its anti-feminist stance, Williams joined Billie Eilish during the latter’s Coachella headlining set in April to perform a “Business” duet. Last week the trio — Williams, guitarist Taylor York and drummer Zac Farro — returned from a nearly five-year recorded hiatus with the new song “This is Why,” the precursor to the upcoming sixth studio of the same name due out on Feb. 10.
Check out fan video of the “Misery” return below.