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“The News,” which dropped late last week, is the band’s second one-off after taking a five-year hiatus. However, the gap in time isn’t slowing them down. “It’s a scary, exciting feeling,” Williams tells Rolling Stone over email, “that you’re treading uncharted waters. It keeps you curious.”
The video for the new single reflects a curious new path for Williams’ fashion too: her style is bolder and her lyrics more confident, reflecting a newfound edge developed amidst the pandemic.
As the video opens, audiences see Williams comatose on a chasm of blood-red shag, eyes ghosted and transfixed on the news from a dimly lit laptop, as Covid rampages against the world. “Me and Hayley both related to that, as I’m sure everyone does” her stylist Lindsey Hartman explains, defining the opening look as an embodiment of that feeling.
A black hoodie, which reads “Turn Off” across the chest, black denim shorts, scrunched socks, and chopped fire red layers hark back to not only Williams’ signature post-grunge style but also a period not so long ago that feels a bit too surreal. Casual comfort dominated the daily uniform in 2020, “You know, hoodie, no shoes, just on the couch,” Hartman recollects. The look feels bleakly nostalgic, albeit modern and cool in this case, given the oversized silhouette.
The video continues down the rabbit hole revealing a second persona emulating an awry and unhinged Brigitte Bardot, the French actress whose heavy eye makeup and teased hair solidified many mod trends. “We’re really obsessed with the Sixties,” Hartman admits, opting for a Coperni dress inspired by the era but still “a little punk” as she notes the strap across the chest, bringing the garment out of an explicitly historical place. “The buckles felt futuristic but also rough. You know, just a little gritty, but still in that Sixties world.”
Through flashes of snarls, we also glimpse Williams’ custom grillz, oppositional to the otherwise preppy garb and rooted in symbolism. “She really struggles with grinding her teeth, which developed as part of this crazy career,” Hartman confesses.
Designed by LA-based artist Alligator Jesus, they disguise her mouth in a sea of glazed oxblood, black opals and blood rubies peeking from exposed canines as she screams and smiles sinisterly. “The teeth reveal a new era for Paramore,” Alligator tells Rolling Stone. “It’s a return to experimenting with avant-garde fashion for Hayley.”
In totality, her style in “The News” is a dyad of Paramore’s new sonic direction, quite dark and brash, but baked in their already vast history of genre bending. This feels like the tip of the iceberg for the many dualities sure to come from Williams in the near future.