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Hayley’s House of Horrors doesn’t skimp on the funk.
Published: 20/02/2020   Author: Mia Lambdin
Photo: Hayley Williams, via YouTube
If you weren’t aware already, Hayley Williams is releasing a solo album, Petals for Armor, and recently released a five-track EP as the first segment from that upcoming album. Alongside this, she has created three music videos for her singles, as well as accompanying visual interludes, but her track ‘Cinnamon’ is by far the most intriguing.

Cinnamon opens with almost pained, eerie, harmonising vocals, followed by synths very reminiscent of the seventies, which grow more distorted during the verses. During the second chorus, the bass starts to show its colours, rising and creating an intricate rhythm whilst the electric guitar powers through. Hayley then sings a haunting bridge with the lyrics, “I’m not lonely, I am free”, flipping a song that before seemed to be about isolation in your own home into something of empowerment. Hayley spoke about her personal struggles in a recent interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music, mentioning how she moved into a new home the week Paramore started promoting After Laughter after asking for a divorce. She also explains how her solo project was a way to put her thoughts and feelings into art, the lyric furthermore suggesting that maybe things in her life are changing for the better.

Additionally, the lyrics “home is where I’m feminine” may suggest that femininity and female empowerment will be a motif on the new album, as she explained in the same interview that she believes everyone has a feminine and masculine side, and was beginning to test the limits of her femininity without feeling any shame.
The track then takes a turn, evolving into something of a funk and disco groove, as Hayley repeats “I’m not lonely babe, I am free, finally”, making it clear that being alone is creating a feeling of liberation for her. Along with this final chorus, the instrumentals sound like pure exhilaration.

The music video for this song mainly consists of a nude and natural colour palette, with bursts of colour in the form of the people in bodysuits chasing Hayley around her home, and eventually dancing alongside her in the finale. In the video Hayley goes from wearing beige fragments of blanket, draped in cobweb-like material, showing her vulnerability, to a vibrantly coloured, fringe-laden shawl over a gold bodysuit, connoting newfound passion, courage and love. The final panning shot of the video implies the story drawn out over three music videos isn’t finished quite yet, suggesting that Hayley has grown and changed since After Laughter and her personal struggles in her life at that time, or perhaps that she is trying to break free of her former image in Paramore – maybe this is why Petals for Armor has an evidently more ‘adult’ sound.

It could also be argued that horror films inspired Cinnamon and the creative direction of its music video, as it may be interpreted that there are parallels with Ari Aster’s Midsommar (2019). For example, unlike the music video for Simmer, the video for Cinnamon is filmed in bright light, despite maintaining the dark storyline — which is unsettling at first glance. Perhaps this is because in broad daylight, nothing can be hidden — it’s pure exposure, all secrets are out in the open. The faceless figures in bodysuits could allude to Hayley’s problems that can no longer be ignored and lost in the woodwork: they have to be faced and dealt with. By the end of the video, she seems to have both accepted and embraced this.

Both Midsommar and Cinnamon lead with the themes of loneliness, femininity and empowerment, ending with the protagonist in paradoxically vivid clothing after closing a miserable chapter in her life, now welcoming what the future has to offer.

“Cinnamon” is available to stream now, and you can watch the video above. Petals for Armor comes out May 8, 2020.



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