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Hayley Williams Explains That Controversial ‘Misery Business’ Lyric

She's responded to critics who say the song is 'anti-feminist'

Ten years after Paramore burst into our lives with “Misery Business,” singer Hayley Williams is clearing the air about a sour lyric from the 2007 anthem.

The couplet in question goes like this: “Once a whore, you’re nothing more / I’m sorry, that will never change.” That lyric has been the subject of some backlash in recent years, with some people decrying its “anti-feminist” message. For Williams, though, it’s just another example of how much she’s grown since she first wrote the lyric as a teenager.

“The thing that annoyed me was that I had already done so much soul-searching about it, years before anyone else had decided there was an issue,” Williams said in an interview with Track 7. “When the [backlash started], I sort of had to go and rehash everything in front of everybody. It was important, however, for me to show humility in that moment. I was a 17-year-old kid when I wrote the lyrics in question and if I can somehow exemplify what it means to grow up, get information, and become any shade of ‘woke,’ then that’s a-OK with me.”

She continued, “[The lyrics] literally came from a page in my diary. What I couldn’t have known at the time was that I was feeding into a lie that I’d bought into, just like so many other teenagers — and many adults — before me. The whole, ‘I’m not like the other girls’ thing... this ‘cool girl’ religion. What even is that? Who are the gatekeepers of ‘cool’ anyway? Are they all men? Are they women that we’ve put on top of an unreachable pedestal?”

The most important thing about this whole debacle, according to Williams, is that she’s learned her lesson.

“For whatever reason, I believe I was supposed to have written those backwards words and I was supposed to learn something from them,” she explained. “It’s made me more compassionate toward other women. We’re all just trying our damnedest.”

So there you have it: Williams wrote those lyrics during a time in her life when she still had some maturing to do. And as frustrating as it must be to have to answer for things you said over a decade ago, she wants to make it clear that she's come a long way since.