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Hayley Williams is first woman to reach #1 on Billboard Top Rock Albums chart as solo artist and band member

'Petals For Armor' is the highly-anticipated solo debut from the singer, and sees her tackle some darker and more personal topics
UPDATED MAY 23, 2020
Hayley Williams (Getty Images)
Hayley Williams (Getty Images)

Hayley Williams now holds the distinction of being the first female artist to top the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart as both a solo artist and a member of a band.

Williams' highly-anticipated new album, 'Petals for Armor', debuted at No 1 on the Rock Albums chart. Additionally, the record landed itself on the Billboard 200, currently sitting at the 18th position just above Harry Styles' 'Fine Line' and below Dua Lipa's 'Future Nostalgia'.

During her extremely successful run as the frontwoman for Paramore, Williams frequently found herself at the top of the charts. The band's accolades include three number one spots on the Top Rock Albums chart for their albums 'Brand New Eyes', 'Paramore' and 'After Laughter'. Their self-titled album also cracked the Billboard 200, hitting No 1.

Musician Hayley Williams of Paramore performs onstage at KROQ Weenie Roast y Fiesta 2017 at StubHub Center on May 20, 2017, in Carson, California (Getty Images)

But the journey to the top hasn't been an easy one for the 31-year-old singer. "I’m glad because life is still hard," Popcrush quoted Williams as saying, "[Life] didn’t become just like a breeze overnight or anything and it’s been years and it’s still not a breeze, but it’s so rich and now that I’m taking account of all these feelings and I’m feeling all of them, there’s this beautiful rainbow versus just the deep end."

The singer's solo journey began with the group's hiatus, following their 2017 release 'After Laughter', when Williams, signaled the first time that she didn't have her life planned out for her. The uncertainty was only worsened by her divorce from New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert, which occurred while the band was still on tour, meaning Williams went on the road married and returned newly single. "I had this experience of emotional whiplash," Billboard quoted Williams as saying, "From moving, moving, moving to, 'Okay, we’re going to take some time off'."

The loss took a heavy toll on the singer's mental health, something she has been candid about in recent times.

(L-R) Taylor York, Hayley Williams, and Zac Farro of Paramore attend Live Nation's celebration of the 4th annual National Concert Week at Live Nation on April 30, 2018, in New York City (Getty Images)

When her therapist suggested she channel these emotions into her music, what came out was the second single off her new album, 'Leave It Alone', a gut-wrenching track that explores love and loss, as well as coping with depression. The song is generally cited as a continuation of the track, 'Simmer', which was Williams's debut as a solo artist and saw her exploring her own femininity via the metaphor of wearing flower petals as armor.

Despite the songs symbolizing Williams foray into a new phase in her career and being suspected by many as signaling the end of Paramore, the band's guitarist Taylor York and touring bassist Joey Howard helped co-write them, with York also serving as a producer. And despite previously stating she had no intention of going solo, Williams soon found herself demoing five more tracks and developing her own sound.

And we can all be thankful for that too, because 'Petals For Armor', which dropped on May 8, is a compelling record that reveals new sides to Williams, including her willingness to explore darker and far more personal themes.