“You” can be a worrisome word. A weighty one. By its very definition — “the one or ones being addressed” — it is up for interpretation, and when it’s used in a song, things get even more muddy. Does “you” refer to the listener or the public at large? Does it take the place of the subject of the lyric, someone who has wronged, inspired, doubted, betrayed the writer? Or does “you” even have to be a person? Couldn’t someone “want” or “love” a refreshing beverage or an old car or, you know, drugs?
Shoot, now that we’re on the subject, maybe we’re never supposed to figure out who or what “you” is referring to (the classic example, of course, being Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain,” which is apparently about Warren Beatty … or David Geffen … or David Bowie, depending on whom you ask).
I only bring this up because in Paramore’s brand-new song “Monster,” which premiered Friday on the band’s official site, Hayley Williams uses the Y-word a lot. And given everything that has lead up to the song’s debut — a string of drama that included the departure of founding member (and Williams’ old flame) Josh Farro , a rather nasty “exit statement,” a tell-all interview with MTV News and the band’s steadfast determination to continue onward — it’s rather impossible not to wonder who she’s referring to … especially given the existence of kiss-offs like “You were my conscience, so solid/ Now you’re like water, and we started drowning/ Not like we’d sink any further” and “Now that you’re gone/ The world is ours.”
So, is Williams singing about Josh Farro? It’s difficult to think otherwise … then again, perhaps, like Simon, she’ll never let us know. Because, really, the subject of the song isn’t as important as its very existence, a statement any Paramore fan will certainly agree with. “Monster” officially kicks off the next chapter in the band’s story and does so roaringly, with spindly, chiming guitars (which recall one of Williams’ favorite bands, mewithoutYou), crushing chords, a massive chorus and a stalking backbeat. Based on the song, it seems like new Paramore will be very much like old Paramore, seemingly minus the drama that drained them for years. Even if we don’t know who Williams’ “you” is, it’s good to have her — and the band — back.