Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun”—the pop-punk group’s highest-charting track ever—is something of a breakup song. But maybe not between lovers, as in so many other pop tunes. It’s one of eight songs (out of 17 total) on a self-titled 2013 album that seem to reference the acrimonious 2010 departure of founding members Josh and Zac Farro.
Lead singer Hayley Williams starts out with what may sound like a gentle, generous attitude toward someone (“I don’t mind letting you down easy”) who’s no longer in her world after a relational rupture. But that magnanimity lasts only a moment. The very next phrase seems to taunt, “But just give it time/If it don’t hurt now then just wait, just wait a while.”
She then wryly wonders what it’s like when “you’re not the big fish in the pond no more” and asks, “What are you gonna do when the world doesn’t orbit around you?/ … Where you’re from, you might be the one who’s running things/You can ring anybody’s bell to get what you want/You see, it’s easy to ignore a trouble/When you’re living in a bubble.”
Amid that sarcasm and accusation is a bit of truth: Conflict coupled with holier-than-thou attitudes undermine important relationships, ultimately resulting in isolation. The sardonic chorus follows: “Ain’t it good to be on your own?/Ain’t it fun you can’t count on no one?/ … Ain’t it fun living in the real world?”
Hayley even goes so far as to drag her hater’s mom into the proceedings, advising, “Don’t go crying to your mama ’cause you’re on your own in the real world.” That’s a tad meanspirited, certainly. And I can’t quite decide if it’s supported well enough by the fact that the insider who is now an outsider seems to be both arrogant and self-righteousness … and has therefore somehow earned it.
Now, if indeed this verbal volley is being lobbed directly at the Farros, then there’s a private-made-public indecency to some of it. And, again, if it is, then it’s simply not my role here to make judgments about who’s on the righteous side of the squabble. So it’s best to treat the track like any casual listener would: as a more general takedown of a more generic foe who simply won’t come to the table and talk things through. It’s certainly more positive to think of things that way.
A postscript about the video, which seems to want to show us just how much silly fun you can have when you’re on the inside of something (as opposed to standing outside looking in, presumably after refusing to reconcile): It begins with the message, “On December 2nd, Paramore set out to break the most world records in a video.” And so they do. Ten of ’em. Ten records that surely never existed before the band brainstormed them.
We see stuff like, “Fastest time to smash 30 clocks with guitars” (31.33 seconds), “Most cartwheels in 20 seconds while wearing boots” (Hayley Williams, who decided to wear a sports bra with those boots, 7), “Fastest time to run backwards holding stuffed animals while blindfolded 30 feet” (6.14 seconds, Taylor York), “Most feathers caught in 30 seconds” (18, Jeremy Davis).
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.