Here's What I Think About…Comparamoring

July 11, 2009 at 1:27 pm Leave a comment

There’s no question that the music industry is sexist. Don’t believe me? How many legitimately “famous” female-fronted bands can you name? Do the same for the male-fronted bands, and I guarantee that you can name at least a hundred more. So, what’s the deal?

It’s not that female-fronted bands don’t exist. In my local scene alone, I can name a bunch: Life on Hold, Defeo, Sincerely, The Management….the list goes on. Think back in time, too. Hole? Blondie? Bikini Kill? It’s not like girls are new to rock music, by any means. But why is it that the only female-fronted band that people seem to know is Paramore?

Here’s part of the problem: Hayley Williams is a freak. She’s got flawless vocals (go on YouTube and watch live videos…I don’t think she’s ever hit a flat note in her life), trendsetting style, ridiculous amounts of energy for putting on exciting shows and looks to make boys say, “Yeah, I like Paramore. I don’t really like their music, but that chick is hot.”

Say no to comparamoring!

"STOP COMPARAMORING!"

Not to mention that Paramore’s been around for awhile, and the “trend” of having a female vocalist is kind of just now catching on. I have the honor of saying that I am an “old school” Paramore fan, as I’ve been listening to them for six years now. They’ve changed a lot (and so has Hayley’s hair) and graduated to full-fledged mainstream status in 2007 with their single “Misery Business,” off their sophomore album Riot!. Their music was suddenly all over MTV, and with their song “Decode” being the lead single from the Twilight movie, they haven’t slowed down one bit.

Now, think about how this has an impact on other female-fronted bands. No matter what, these girls will always be compared to Paramore. Even if their band sounds absolutely nothing like them. Even if their voice sounds nothing like Hayley’s. This certainly goes for underground bands still at the local level, but it also goes for bands that are starting to gain recognition. Automatic Loveletter‘s Juliet Simms, Flyleaf‘s Lacey Mosley, VersaEmerges Sierra Kusterbeck, Hey Monday‘s Cassadee Pope and Meg and Dia are just a few of the names that get thrown around with one of two phrases, “better than Hayley” or “not as good as Hayley.”

The kids can’t seem to stop comparing every female-fronted band to Paramore. Maybe it’s just because they know it’s the one that people will recognize…kind of a universal reference point. But it’s gotten fans of these bands heated. Even Hayley herself has gotten annoyed by it, sending out a Tweet begging people to “stop ‘comparamoring’.”This is the first I’ve heard of Hayley responding to this problem. Actually, I’ve never read her opinions on any other female-fronted bands. I’d be very interested to know what she thinks…

But not every female-fronted band deserves to be comparamored. Automatic Loveletter, for example, definitely has their own sound, style and show aesthetic.

Juliet Simms of Automatic Loveletter

Juliet Simms of Automatic Loveletter

Juliet Simms is the resident cool classic rocker chick, but she writes some of the most heartfelt lyrics around today. She also plays guitar for Automatic Loveletter, singing over it with her remarkably raspy voice, which allows her to stand out from the crowd and avoid the “Paramore rip-off” label.

Granted, the music industry is not stupid. They saw the success of Paramore, and it’s clear that some bands have been molded in their likeness. VersaEmerge, for example, used to be more of a progressive, post-hardcore kind of band (check this out) and now they’ve seemed to change their sound, and, on some tracks, are nearly indistinguishable from Paramore (see here). Was this the band’s decision or their record label (Fueled By Ramen, also home to Paramore)’s?

The biggest case of comparamoring, however, comes with a band called Hey Monday. They were signed to Decaydance Records by Pete Wentz and have subsequently skyrocketed in fame. A lot of diehard Hey Monday fans will disagree with me, but it can be nearly impossible to tell these two bands apart, unless you’re very familiar with Hayley’s trademark vocals. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; clearly they have a huge fan base for a reason, and not because they’re good Paramore impersonators.

Hey Monday

Hey Monday

Even so, Hey Monday are constantly the victims of backlash from everyone from YouTube users, AbsolutePunk.net members and hateful Facebook groups. But having Pete Wentz as your, “mentor,” shall we say, has its perks. Hey Monday recently joined Fall Out Boy on their Believers Never Die Tour, bringing their show to thousands of potential new fans every night. Cassadee’s also got a cameo in the band’s [creepy] video for “America’s Suitehearts.”

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be allowed to criticize and compare. If you’re going to do your research and make educated statements, then by all means, please do so. But be fair about it. I downloaded and listened to Hey Monday’s entire album before I formulated my opinion on them. The problem is, people who comparamore take it to the next level. The girls get judged on their looks too, which is a strange factor, seeing as nobody cares what the guys look like (I love Jonny Craig for his voice only).

Anyways, my philosophy has been, and always will be, to let the bands do what they want. If you don’t like it, don’t listen. People these days spend way too much time bashing on message boards instead of trying to learn more about the artists.

And so I leave you lovely readers with this. Here are two acoustic videos, the first is Cassadee Pope performing “Candles” and the second is Paramore performing “Pressure.”

And please, feel free to like both. This is a comparamore-free zone.

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