Turn Up the Volume: Why I Love This Song
By: Thomas Rodriguez
Gonna make you wonder why you even try
Gonna take you down and laugh when you cry”
When it comes to music, you sometimes need a happy song to lift you up out of the emotional hole you find yourself in; on the opposite side of the coin, sometimes you want to hear a somber song on a happy day to have some emotional balance. Usually, these songs are completely separate from one another, and the difference between them is night and day, in both lyrics and sound. The mixing of sad and happy into one song is a very risky affair, as the tone can seem completely out of wack or the artist can just sound like they don’t know what they’re doing, meandering from one emotion to another. It’s just like mixing two great foods: it’s very easy to make something that’s pretty awful from two things that are great on their own. When a song does strike that sweet spot, however, it can be amazing. And that’s exactly what Paramore did with the release of “Hard Times”.
The best ways to describe the sound of “Hard Times” are bouncy, fun, and light. The soft guitar licks, sugary synths, and consistent tempo of the drums aren’t too hard on the ears, yet aren’t exactly airy either. It strikes the right balance of being a large presence in the song, yet not becoming too overbearing. The sonics of this 80s inspired tune is something that just makes you want to grin from ear to ear, throw your hands up in the air, and dance around all by yourself. Even the mere length of the song creates an unassuming air around the track; at barely over three minutes, the song is in and out of your ear, making you appreciate every sweet moment of it all the more. If that weren’t enough, by God this song is catchy as all hell. The hook (despite the grave qualities in its lyrics) is one of those choruses that makes you want to shout alongside frontwoman Hayley Williams with as much joy as she seems to be having. On a purely instrumental level, this song is the equivalent of the happy emoji….
Until you reach the lyrics that is.
Now, throughout the actual song, the delivery of the saddening lyrics is deceptive; it sounds nearly uplifting! Reading into the actual lines delivered by Williams, however, is incredibly insightful to her feelings. Whether it be the description of rain clouds above her head, her desire to find a hole in the ground to hide from her troubles, or her realizations of hitting rock bottom, these lyrics present us with a pretty powerful depiction of reaching your lowest point. Although they are presented with a backdrop of music that sounds exactly like the opposite of sad, they carry a poignancy that turns “Hard Times” into exactly what its title suggests. With these problems on full display, Williams allows us to relate with the simple problem of facing tough moments and not being able to overcome them. However, while the lyrics are incredibly dreary, the combination of happy and sad vibes gives another layer to the song. Rather than wallowing in depression, or indulging in pure bliss, Paramore gives us an alternative, one that is much more important than the previous two (and is the biggest reason for why this song is excellent). Tough times are a reality in life, and they’re going to hit us hard, even amidst the perceived happiness around us. When Williams yelps “And I gotta get to rock bottom”, she’s embracing her problems, and recognizing the beginning of her journey to happiness. If starting that journey entails listening to this song, then maybe we can make it!
Did you like this song? Any comments or criticism? Comment down below and let me know! I’d love to hear what you think!