Music often helps to understand certain life lessons, and to realise what we need to do in the situations we find ourselves immersed in, for me one song in particular stands out in this sense. Paramore, the band I’ve been obsessed with for the past decade have been commended on their writing, and their music, but some of their songs go slightly unnoticed, or under appreciated. Some of the songs people instantly go to when Paramore is mentioned are ‘Misery Business’, ‘The Only Exception’ or more recently ‘Aint it Fun’ and ‘Still into You’, but in my view ‘Brick by Boring Brick’ is one of the most universal, narrative driven, and ultimately relatable of their tracks. I’m sure that more than just my generation was raised reading, or hearing Aesops Fables (especially considering just how old they are) the fables were little fairy-tales with a moral underlining. Songs, in my opinion, often have the same structural base of a fable/fairy-tale, where a story is presented, but with enough mystery so the audience can realise the moral that ultimately serves as the premise of the narrative. ‘Brick by Boring Brick’ is an example of this, however, with similarities to more of a Brothers Grimm fairy-tale; a grittier, realistic presentation of a fantastical yet distorted world.
The lyrics, and music video depict a girl that has created a fantasy universe, so far from reality that she’s managed to become stuck in her fake, imaginary world and must ‘bury the castle’ in order to escape and be reunited with the real world. Of course, everything written here is my own opinion and interpretation but I think that the song speaks to everyone that is going through a stressful time, or feeling lonely, or in general upset with the world; at these points, especially in our younger years we create a world to escape to. Like many films and books have done, Paramore presents this escapist universe as a dangerous, unsafe world. Although partially removing yourself from reality can have it’s merits to escaping problems, if you become too engulfed in this image of a semi-imaginary utopia then even more problems may arise.
The opening lines to the song are as follows: “She lives in a fairy-tale, somewhere too far for us to find/ forgotten the taste and smell of a world that she’s left behind” – This whole song is full of quotable lyrics, but these opening lines establish my idea in the simplest and most rounded way. Very quickly we enter the narrative of the song, welcomed into an eerie confrontation by the deep, rocky tunes of the bass, guitar and drums. Hayley’s voice then appears, much like a narrator, introducing us to this girl who ‘lives in a fairy tale’ but has ‘forgotten the taste and smell’ of what is suggestively the real world. But what does this mean? They set the scene up well, and then they suggest that she ‘bury’s the castle’ (a castle, obviously a very prominent fairy tale trope) but we don’t 100% understand why it’s so important that she leaves that world, that she worked so hard to create for herself. That is, until the bridge comes in, beginning with a harsh, almost attacking nature, bluntly accusing her of building a ‘world of magic’ because her real life ‘is tragic’ and some might say this bluntness and rockyness would be fair to continue. Yet it does not, once the narrator, now directly contacting the girl of the story with an anger that is more desperation, begins to calm down, the music slows down, and Hayley sings in a less desperate, more understanding tone. “If it’s not real, you cant hold it in your hand/ you can’t feel it with your heart/ and I wont believe it” – Hayley seems to sympathise with the girl, but nevertheless tells her that even though it seems better, it’s not real, and she can’t feel true happiness in that world. She then continues to say “But if it’s true, you can see it with your eyes/ oh even in the dark/ and that’s where I want to be.” – Firstly, the use of ‘true’ instead of ‘real’ almost shows a hopeful belief that the happiness found in the imaginary world can just as easily be found in the real world, except it will be ‘true’, because after all if you have to deceive yourself in order to be happy, then that’s not true happiness. Suddenly, Hayley (originally being the narrator) seems to take on the persona of the girl, as if she’d be talking to herself this whole time and had finally realised that she needs to re-connect with the real, true world. I say this, because after calmly addressing the problems to the girl, her tone gets louder, and more emotional again as she, using the personal pronoun ‘I’, speaks of how that’s where she wants to be, in true happiness.
We’re then presented with the chorus again, which this time makes slightly more sense when taking in everything we’ve been given as context. We understand that although this girl has created her fake, imaginary view on the world that is similar to a fairy tale in order to be happy, the truth of it is, she’s not happy, she’s just hiding her sadness. I would argue that this song isn’t necessarily happy, but I think that would ruin it, the song is addressing the problems with seeing life like a fairy tale known for its happy endings. They end the song, in a way, that we’ve been given the story, we’ve been given the reality that it cannot stay how it is, but we’re not given the solution… because that’s for us to discover, that’s our role in the story.