Isn't it nice when musical acts popular in your earlier years are given more respect in later decades? With the 2020's resurgence of the pop punk genre, this is exactly what's happening to Tennessee alternative rock band Paramore.
With recent news of Olivia Rodrigo - one of the young leaders of the pop punk resurgence - giving songwriting credits to Hayley Williams and Josh Farro for the interpolation of "Misery Business" into "good 4 u," music nerds are taking a closer look at the early 2000's band's audial legacy - and how their past work has affected current song trends.
Paramore, originally consisting of Williams, Farro, Jeremy Davis, Zac Farro, and late-addition Taylor York, began in Franklin, Tennessee while they were still in high school. With Williams' powerhouse vocals and iconic orange hair, Josh Farro's whirlwind guitar riffs and masterful drumming by brother Zac, it wasn't long until the young band was touring across the world. Along with acts like My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco and New Found Glory, they were responsible for that sweet early 2000's punk, emo sound that feels so nostalgic in current day ears.
While Paramore has been through a lot since 2004 - like sexism, soap-opera level drama and, well...getting older - the band isn't dead. Currently consisting of Williams, York, and Zac Farro, their last release was the 2017 new wave album After Laughter. Rumor has it the trio is back in the studio this year.
While we're still waiting for Paramore's triumphant 2020's comeback, here's our obligatory list of Top 10 Paramore songs!
After the world was introduced to Paramore via their 2005 debut All We Know is Falling and 2007 masterpiece Riot!, they made an appearance on the 2008 soundtrack for vampire romance movie Twilight. Their contribution to the album was "Decode": a moody, wailing track with references to the film.
Even if you can't stand the series with sparkly blood-suckers, "Decode" is still a rockin' song on its own. Hayley's vocals in the chorus soar, and the Farro brothers do a remarkable job with their respective solos within the bridge. It's no wonder "Decode" became a fan favorite at concerts. Also, this song hits differently in the winter and fall.
9. "Let the Flames Begin"
A highly underrated Riot! song, "Let the Flames Begin" is an epic track about trying to cling to hope during trying times. If you've experienced anxiety, depression, or grief, it's likely you'll relate to the emotional lyrics - and they might just help you get through whatever pain you're enduring. On Paramore's self-titled 2013 album, they would eventually release the sequel to this track: "Part II"
Hayley Williams penned the words to "Let the Flames Begin" when she was just 17. In a note to fans on the LiveJournal Community, Williams explained this song got it’s title only because the band was under pressure to come up with a name before the album's release.
She also wrote: "The lyrics touched on the way I saw us (people who were around my same age at the time) and how we fit in to society…and sort of lightly dusted the topic of the human condition. How broken we must seem from the outside, to whoever happens to be looking in."
Williams also mentioned, "I never felt like it really sounded as meaningful on record as it seemed when we played it live." It's a statement we wholheartedly agree with. Our personal favorite live performance of "Let the Flames Begin?" The BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend concert in 2013.
The tracks "Ignorance" and "Playing God" sort of go together within Paramore's third studio album Brand New Eyes. While we love "Playing God" and the cheeky music video that goes along with it, we feel "Ignorance" is the stronger of the two similarly-themed tracks. It's fiery, furious, and extremely liberating to listen to.
Released as a single on July 7, 2009, "Ignorance" hit #7 on the US Alternative Songs, #1 on UK Rock Songs, and #10 on the Japan Hot 100. If you've ever had to deal with toxic people in your life, this song brushes upon the frustration you may feel in their taking control of you. "Ignorance" is sure to give you whiplash with its fast-paced guitar riffs, heavy drums, and Hayley's raging vocal bits.
Even more, "Ignorance" actually saved Paramore from splitting up. (Before they actually did in 2010.) Hayley said the song came out of a productiveless, distraught songwriting session. She told The Guardian, "I tried to mumble all the way through, but Taylor was right next to the speaker and heard every word. He gave me this fierce look – I thought he was going to kill me – and said, ‘So do you want to tell me about those lyrics?’ I ran into the bathroom, I was so nervous. But we talked for two hours and reconciled a lot of tough, heavy things. That song saved our band."
7. "Brick by Boring Brick"
"Brick by Boring Brick" is a fairytale-inspired bop about growing up and facing the not-so-magical world of reality. It's another fan favorite at concerts, since all the Ba-da-ba, ba-da ba-ba-da's are pretty fun to sing aloud.
While this song isn't about anyone in particular, Hayley explained to Kerrang! in an interview that it's "about people who cover up their reality with frills and make out like they’re living a fantasy life. It’s one thing to have goals and dreams but it’s another thing when you never know where you’re standing in the real world. People can be hurt by that."
Hayley also brushed upon this song's creation to Alternative Press. "Imagine me walking into this tiny little room where we practiced, not knowing what we were going to accomplish that day and then hearing this song within the first five minutes," she said. "I fell in love with the music to these verses from the first snare hit. It reminded me of mewithoutYou and had this darkness to it that I was crazy about."
The dreamy music video is just as whimsical and dark as the song itself. Anyone else want to go get a shovel?
6. "That's What You Get"
A classic from Riot!, "That's What You Get" takes the "na na na na na" children's taunt melody and turns it into a truthful emo song about the dangers of using your heart over your head. The song was certified Gold in the United States on December 12, 2008, selling over 500,000 copies. It's so good, Taylor Swift even invited Hayley Williams to sing it alongside her during the Speak Now Tour.
About the song, Josh Farro told Ultimate Guitar, "I wrote that music sort of sitting in my bedroom and I was like ‘Oh, it’s pretty cool.’ So I brought it to Hayley and I think we wrote it in Orlando, Florida like Hayley was writing the lyrics. She’s like, ‘I think I have something to this.’...The lyrics are really simple: that’s what you get when you let your heart win and you don’t really think with your head. You’re more thinking based on a feeling."
We love how emotional yet totally chill "That's What You Get" is, and how it effortlessly flips between 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures. Fun fact: legend has it the lyrics were partly written by a guy named Michael Benedict who won the Western Pennsylvania "Write a Song for Paramore" Contest in 2007. Unfortunately, there's no evidence of a contest or Benedict actually contributing to the songwriting process. But if it is true, we're happy he could help Josh and Hayley out with this banger.
5. "Hard Times"
When "Hard Times" was released as a single in 2017, many people couldn't believe this new sound was Paramore. But as the 80's-esque track proves, the band is able to master new wave music just as well as their earlier pop punk tunes.
"Hard Times" captures a common theme on Paramore albums: having to face the harshness of reality and growing up. Unlike "Let the Flames Begin," "Hard Times" dwells in the sad feels while juxtaposing downcast lyrics with a groovy melody. You can cry and dance to this song at the same time!
Furthermore, this song is about the depression Williams faced in 2016 due to personal issues in the band as well as confronting themes of growing up. She told The New York Times, "You can run on the fumes of being a teenager for as long as you want, but eventually life hits you real hard."
Yet another Riot! classic (seriously, Riot! is a really good album), "crushcrushcrush" is a hardcore tune about two people liking each other but never doing anything about it. It also addresses peer pressure and how other peoples' opinions can keep you from doing what you desire. If you want to feel like you're back in high school dealing with the drama of crushes, we recommend listening to this song.
While this tune is about the dark sides of secretly fancying someone, "crushcrushcrush" is a really fun time. The beat and melody are light and easy to jam to, and the "2,3,4!" interludes are meant to shout along to. Could the numbers also be a reference to how there's more than two people prying into this possible couples' relationship? If it wasn't intentional, it was certainly a happy accident.
3. "Ain't It Fun"
"Still Into You" will always be a Paramore fan favorite. But in terms of music production and choosing a song with a deeper message, we think "Ain't It Fun" prevails as the standout track on the band's self-titled album.
"Ain't It Fun" is yet another song about growing up and having to face the music of reality. But what sets it apart from other Paramore tracks with the same theme is its lyrical maturity, unconventional combination of rock sounds and marimba, and rad use of a gospel choir in the bridge.
On the gospel choir choice, Hayley explained to Radio.com, "I grew up on gospel. I love gospel and I think I never thought it would mesh at all with what Paramore would ever do. But luckily on this album, we were a lot more openminded...we weren’t as closed off. ... They put so much soul and so much feeling into their sound that makes it real and raw. I actually cried like three times just hearing these people sing our song. It was so cool."
We love how cinematic this song feels. It's a great reminder that you - YES, YOU - are not the center of the universe. Fortunately, radio stations loved this song too, and "Ain't It Fun" was a common track to hear during the summer of 2014.
2. "The Only Exception"
What a tearjerker this one is! While underrated in more recent years, there was a time when "The Only Exception" was a popular song to hear on the radio. It was the third single released for Brand New Eyes and a nice acoustic breather in the middle of several heavy punk tracks. It's also one of the most tender love songs ever written.
With vulnerable lyrics penned by Williams and Josh Farro, the song talks about Hayley's upbringing with divorced parents, and how their resentment for each other led to her having cynicism about true love. But - as she explains in the song - the person who she is with now has her on her way to believing again.
Want to know something tragic about this track? Rumor has it Hayley wrote it for her special someone at the time: New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert. The two met in 2007, got married in 2016, but then divorced the very next year. We still can't stop crying about it.
On a lighter note, the cool music video has Hayley walking through a series of rooms before eventually returning back to her lover on their living room sofa. She also sings on a pile of Valentine's Day cards, which the band asked fans to send in for the visual!
1. "Misery Business"
Did you really think we'd make this top ten list without saving this bop for last?
Sure - some may say it's the band's most overplayed song. But here's the honest truth: play "Misery Business" in a car full of passengers, a bar, a karaoke session, or any public gathering, and everyone who's able to hear the music WILL sing along. Go on, do it. We dare you.
Remember that unproductive songwriting session we mentioned the band having when they wrote "Ignorance?" During that session, Josh Farro explained that one of the reasons he was struggling with writing new material is because he felt he would never write anything better than "Misery Business." While we don't think this song was the end of his writing genius, we do understand the sentiment. After all: the guitar riffs in this track are absolutely wild.
Without a doubt, "Misery Business" is what put Paramore on the map, and without it, they probably wouldn't be so well-known to the point where Olivia Rodrigo gave them songwriting credits years later. But if you're planning on listening to this song live someday, let us be the bearer of bad news: "Misery Business" is now retired from the band's live sets.
Why? For several reasons. Hayley wrote the lyrics to "Misery Business" when she was 17, and as a woman now in her early 30's, she can no longer relate to the track's angsty, petty vibe. She also revealed this song was about Josh and his girlfriend at the time, which wasn't very nice. And then there's that nasty word Hayley calls the girl in the second verse...yikes.
Yes, this song might be a little outdated. But it's still a dictionary definition of early 2000's pop punk masterpieces. While we're sad to see it go, we're also glad "Misery Business" is now retired. It shows that the little high school band from Tennessee has done the thing they always set out to do: grow up gracefully.
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