While Paramore’s “Fake Happy” does not have a clear-cut lineage from a specific song, the themes of struggling with mental health and putting on a smile for the outside world have been present in music for quite some time. 

The first lineage that I chose to explore is “Paint It, Black” by The Rolling Stones → “Fake Happy” by Paramore → “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish. This idea of existing in a dark place mentally can first be seen in The Rolling Stone’s “Paint It, Black”, which was released in 1966. While the meaning of this song is somewhat ambiguous due to the fact that there are different interpretations of the lyrical content, one way that it can be interpreted is through the lens of someone battling depression. Singer and co-writer, Mick Jagger, communicates that he wants everything to be “painted black” so that the outside world matches the negativity existing in his mind. For example, he says, “I see a red door / and I want it painted black / no colors anymore / I want them to turn black”, which shows the darkness that he is facing. One verse in “Paint It, Black” that really stands out to me is when Mick Jagger sings, “Maybe then I’ll fade away/ and not have to face the facts / it’s not easy facing up / when your whole world is black”. 

This verse reminds me of a portion of Paramore’s “Fake Happy”, where Haley Williams sings, “I been doing a good job of makin’ ‘em think / I’m quite alright / but I hope I don’t blink / you see it’s easy when I’m stomping on a beat/ but no one sees me when I crawl back underneath”. Both artists express how difficult it is to break free from cycles of mental illness when outside pressures are contributing to negative feelings as well. 

These two songs can then be connected to Billie Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted”, which was released in 2019. Eilish sings, “And it feels like yesterday was a year ago / but I don’t wanna let anybody know / ‘cause everybody wants something from me now / and I don’t wanna let ‘em down”. This shows that many entertainers struggle with mental illness that is only made worse through public expectations that weigh heavy on them.

Another lineage that could exist is “Everybody’s Fool” by Evanescence → “Fake Happy” by Paramore → “Entertainer” by Zayn. “Everybody’s Fool”, released in 2003, discusses the fake persona that many celebrities present to the outside world. For example, one part of the song says, “Just what we all need / more lies about a world that / never was and will never be / have you no shame don’t you see me / you know you’ve got everybody fooled”. 

This idea of seeing right through a lie can also be seen in “Fake Happy” when Williams sings, “Oh please don’t ask me how I’ve been / don’t make me play pretend / oh no, what’s the use? / oh please, I bet everybody here is fake happy too”. 

These two songs can be connected to Zayn’s “Entertainer”, which was released in 2018. Zayn sings, “Don’t you play me for a fool / in this game, I own the rules / you were my favorite entertainer”. Although this song is about lies and deceit in a relationship, his comparison of his partner to an entertainer further proves the point that many individuals in the spotlight have to put on a facade for the outside world.  

Overall, these two lineages further emphasize the prevalence of mental illness in the entertainment industry and communicate struggles of trying to seem happy for other people. Although these songs are not directly linked, they use similar themes to evoke emotions and share their experiences with listeners.