Is Machine Gun Kelly Wrong To Cover Paramore’s ‘Misery Business’ Live?

Kiah Tooke

American musician Machine Gun Kelly has sparked controversy since videos of him performing a cover of Paramore’s Misery Business have surfaced on Twitter; Kiah Tooke discusses.  

This isn’t the first time MGK has covered the song, a studio cover is featured on the deluxe version of his 2020 album ‘Tickets To My Downfall’, as well as a cover with Travis Barker for MGK’s Lockdown Sessions. However, his cover of Misery Business at Argentina and Chile’s Lollapalooza festival has raised questions about whether he should be performing the cover at all.

Some people have seen this genre switch as superficial

Since MGK’s music evolution with his 2020 album ‘Tickets To My Downfall’, he has been more involved within the rock music scene, collaborating with artists such as Bring Me The Horizon and Kellin Quinn. The musician even went on to win the award for ‘Favourite Rock Artist’ at the 2021 American Music Awards, beating Foo Fighters, Glass Animals and All Time Low in the process.

However, some people have seen this genre switch as superficial and have criticised MGK as using the genre to further his career. Slipknot’s lead singer Corey Taylor was thought to be targeting MGK last year when he commented ‘I [hate] the artists who failed in one genre and decided to go rock – and I think he knows who he is’ on Cutter’s Rockcast podcast.

However, MGK has been criticised on his live cover of Misery Business not because of the song’s genre, but because of the track’s misogynistic lyrics. In 2018, frontman Hayley Williams announced Misery Business’ retirement from their live performances, declaring ‘we feel like it’s time to move away from it for a little while’. This is likely due to the misogynistic lines, ‘Once a whore, you’re nothing more, I’m sorry, that will never change’.

This wasn’t the first time Williams had spoken about Misery Business. In a 2015 Tumblr post Williams discussed how ‘those words were written when I was 17… admittedly, from a very narrow-minded perspective’. Misery Business was originally released in Paramore’s 2007 album Riot!, almost 15 years ago now.

His move is all the more controversial in 2022

Therefore, MGK’s recent performances of Misery Business sparked debate on Twitter about if he should be performing it if Paramore had retired the song. As Hayley Williams was criticised for writing the song when she was 17, why should MGK get to still perform the song and receive kudos for it at the age of 31? His move is all the more controversial in 2022, when the song was written way back in 2007, with many developments against internalised misogyny having been made since.

Not only have Paramore fans criticised MGK on his choice to perform the song at all, but also on the vocal delivery of the song. Williams’ vocal range in her performances of the song are a lot less flat than MGK’s rendition, with someone posting Paramore’s live version of the song on Twitter ‘in honour of MGK butchering Misery Business’.

Kiah Tooke

Featured image courtesy of @jimmybooey via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of @machinegunkelly  via @instagram.com. No changes were made to this image.

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