Paramore: Their 18 Best Songs

Clash writers name their personal picks...

Paramore are perhaps the biggest cult band on the planet. Musicians with deep underground links, their unavoidable pop touch has brought them immense fame. Recent album ‘This Is Why’ is a case in point – a bona fide global smash that features some of their best songs, the band then hit the road alongside Taylor Swift for her record-breaking Eras tour.

In spite of the hype and attention, though, Paramore remains an intensely personal experience. The band’s fandom retains a cult-like quality, a kind of Us vs. The World mindset that attracts outsiders from all walks of life.

The American band touch down in the UK next month for a huge arena tour, including dates in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, and Cardiff. With that in mind, Clash writers grouped together to construct their take on Paramore’s best songs…

Best Paramore Songs – ‘You First’

Not many people would have predicted Paramore’s comeback tour setlist for ‘This Is Why’ would be opened by ‘You First’ – yet, when you take a closer look, it makes perfect sense. The wickedly uncomfortable opening guitar line –  something you might be accustomed to hearing from Fontaines D.C – introduces the groove as the drums kick into action. It’s a high point of the contemporary Paramore sound that showcases Hayley Williams’ shimmering newer vocal style before a fully-fledged chorus that alludes to the Paramore of old. The track deals with internal conflict and duality in a quintessentially Paramore way, providing one of the biggest sing-alongs on ‘This Is Why’: “Everyone is a bad guy / And there’s no way, no way to know / Who’s the worst”. One of the most ambitious manifestations of the modern Paramore sound, its nuance lifts it into the realm of Paramore’s best songs.

(Rishi Shah)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘The Only Exception’

One of ‘Brand New Eyes’ more lo-fi picks, ‘The Only Exception’ became the project’s front-runner. Its accompanying video outwardly wholesome, but one of Paramore’s most complex; the theme playing on the idea of always coming back to ‘the one’. Oozing teenage spirit, the stripped rhythmic strums serve as the foundation for Hayley’s whimsical vocals.

A ballad for the most part, the bridge delivering a grittier roaring energy that builds into euphoric burst for the outro. With depth beyond it being just a love song, it touches on the idea of love, real life relationships, loneliness and finally hope – bringing it full circle. This emotive single managed to strike chords with the classic Paramore fan and the masses, at a time where Tumblr romance tales and Wattpad reigned supreme. A true example of a song that’s intentional in detail from top to bottom.

(Shanté Collier-McDermott)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘Hate To See Your Heart Break’

Marking Paramore’s first ever studio collaboration (the deluxe version featuring Williams’ real-life friend Joy Williams), ‘Hate To See Your Heart Break’ is an ode to close friendship, focusing on an optimistic outlook on love. With both versions consisting of powerful strings, a slow build and soothing vocals, something that moves the track beyond boring rock and into classic ballad territory, the delicate, comforting ballad finds Williams entering a full-on guidance counsellor mode in which she reassures the listeners that everything will be alright no matter the situation.

The precious track, despite starting off as sad and vulnerable, ends up being an uplifting, bouncy one that really connects with the sense of healing your heart. It’s a must for every sad themed playlist. You can’t have one without it.

(Shannon Garner)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘Anklebiters’

Two minutes and 18 seconds of pure chaos sums up ‘Anklebiters’ and despite never being released as a single, Paramore still made a music video for the track. The short, snappy, repetitive blast of energy is laced with ambitious pop-punk guitars, a toe-tapping drumbeat and genuine laughter, all of which come together, making the track a form of stress relief because you can’t help but let loose and jam out to this song. Paramore are clearly having fun and, now, so are you.

(Shannon Garner)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘(One of Those) Crazy Girls’

With a playful, 60’s pop styled opening, ‘(One of Those) Crazy Girls’ is the perfect satirical take on jealous, obsessive behaviour and we’re totally here for it. The track, which eventually blossoms into a full-on Weezer homage, complete with a killer guitar solo, confidently supports women’s manic behaviour through delivering it with enough self-knowing humour to get away with the topics at hand. It’s definitely an anthem to be screamed at the top of your lungs. It’s their most under-appreciated gem.

(Shannon Garner)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘This Is Why’

‘This Is Why’ sees Paramore heading back to their roots, but still retaining the pop-sheen that the band refined on last effort ‘After Laughter’. You may argue ‘recency bias!’ but it is quite impossible to deny how brilliant ‘This Is Why’ is. The drawn out, intricate introduction exploding into some of the nastiest guitar work heard in 2022 is more than enough to turn the heads of the rock elitists.

And it’s everything that makes Paramore Paramore: infectious hooks, tasteful, loud instrumentation, emotional lyricism. The verses are gentle, soft and crooning, the choruses brash and boasting a watertight groove pocket, unheard in most modern guitar music.

As seen on stage, Hayley Williams is as carefree as ever, and her performance on this track encapsulates it perfectly. Her swagger is undeniable, the fun she’s having constantly audible. ‘This Is Why’ sees Paramore at their very best, and the track has set a substantial precedent.

(James Mellen)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘Still Into You’

‘Still into You’ was the second single from their self-titled LP in 2013. At a time when Paramore’s line-up was up in the air, the turbulence of being a band did not stop the trio (in this instance) whipping up exactly what they do best – writing an angsty love anthem of stadium proportions. The band are loud, the guitars plucky and staccato in the verses before trimming the fat and delivering a gargantuan wall of overdrive in the chorus. Hayley Williams’ vocals are soaring, dripping with her brazen charisma and disposition, and that final pre-chorus sees the icon boasting her jaw dropping vocal talents.

It’s baffling this record is almost a decade old, but this track in particular sounds as fresh as it did on that perfect day in March 2013.

(James Mellen)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘Misery Business’

Let’s take it from the top. ‘Misery Business’ is Paramore’s objectively most popular hit, but for singer Hayley Williams, the song has a complicated legacy. 

On the track, guitar propulses as Williams recounts her wanton revenge and success over a boyfriend stealer. She delivers quick, acerbic sneers with a patronizing confidence that reads: “nice try.” The guitar ramps up until a pause, and then a woahhhhh followed by the induction of a surging chorus. “I never meant to brag,” Williams sings, proceeding to then brag with haughty vindication, “but I got him where I want him now…it just feels so good.”

But then, in 2018 listeners deemed the line “once a whore, you’re nothing more. I’m sorry that’ll never change” as “anti-feminist.” In response, the commercial hit and fan favorite was ditched from the group’s setlist, indefinitely. It wasn’t untilCoachella 2022 that Williams finally performed an acoustic version of the track alongside headliner Billie Eillish, citing that she grew and learned from the “misogyny [she] metabolized as a young girl,” recognizing that the song is important to the groups history, to the fans at large —  like Eilish herself — and to the Paramore live show experience. After all, isn’t pop-punk a genre that rejoices in mistakes, missteps, and youthful ignorance? Ripped from Williams’ diary, “Misery Business” is an indelible creation, written by a 17-year-old, mind you, and it still influences young artists today (see: Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Good 4 U’). It deserves to be celebrated; it deserves to be sung. Thankfully, we’re back, finally, in the business of misery. And god, it just feels so good

(Sam Small)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘That’s What You Get’

‘That’s What You Get’ is the gold standard for pop-punk; brisk instrumentation with a digestible, contagious melody. A snare hits, heavy guitar thrusts, and Williams swings in, commanding the pace. “No, sir. I don’t want to be the blame, not anymore,” she sings until belting what’s really on her mind: “And, why do we like to hurt so much?” Williams knows she’s at the mercy of her whims, acknowledging her powerlessness over passion in the penultimate bridge, “If I ever start to think straight this heart will start a riot in me.” Self-afflicted heartbreak is inevitable, but damn, if it isn’t exhilarating. 

The chorus, however, is where the song really soars. With just two lines, “that’s what you get when you let your heart win / I drowned out all my senses with the sound of its beating,” a shifting time signature, and of course, the occasional quintessential, “woah,” the song’s chorus packs the ultimate punch. Soon, the instrumentation is disregarded completely and a chant ensues. That’s what you get, that’s what you get, the band cheers until drums come pummeling back for a full bodied return. This is Paramore’s bread and butter: a simple, but vigorous tune that harnesses a charming power and a definitive message. 

(Sam Small)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘Crushcrushcrush’

Yet another wicked single from 2007’s ‘Riot!’, ‘crushcrushcrush’ epitomises adolescent yearning. Initiated by a reverberating snare heartbeat, Williams declares she has a “lot to say” as she notices her admirer’s eyes are “always glued to her.” But there is just one problem: bystanders, or other teenage classmates, are interjecting, literally physically preventing the truth from being revealed by “tap[ing] over your mouth” and “scribbl[ing] out the truth with their lies.” Suddenly, the instrumentation dissipates and the mobs of whispers and secret longing permeate over one staticy guitar strum, “crush…crush…crush…” whispers Williams as the heartbeat pulses until evolving into the signature Paramore chorus with a quick-paced pop beat, elastic guitar and captivating hooks. “Nothing compares to a quiet evening alone / Just the one two of us is counting on / That never happens, I guess I’m dreaming again  /Let’s be more than this”

And although Williams objects to the standoff, calling out her admirers’ bluff, the truth is viscid, sticking to surfaces but never fully reaching their direct target. Unfortunately, this romance is just a fantasy; reality is hindered by juvenile pride. It’s a major tune that represents Paramore at their best. Nothing compares to that capriciously sweet early 2000s punk “rock n’ roll, baby.” 

(Sam Small)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘Ain’t It Fun’

Gone are the days of petulant angst and childish disputes, on ‘Ain’t It Fun’’ Paramore is all grown up, their targets now aimed away from the personal and out into the “real world.” 

Perhaps due in part to the Farro brothers departure, the final single from the band’s 2013 self-titled LP is indicative of a more experimentally sonic era. The band trades their thrashy guitar for funky, synth-like keyboards and cutesy xylophone syncopation. In contrast to the sunny instrumentation, Williams tints those wearing rose-coloured glasses, disclosing that “you’re not the big fish in the pond no more / you are what they’re feeding on.” She then takes it a step further, asking “so what are you gonna do when the world don’t orbit around you?” The answer: grin and bare it, baby. That’s what everyone else is doing. 

Williams then opts for sarcasm in the chorus, asking, rhetorically, “Ain’t it fun living in the world?” Soon enough, another sonic anomaly drives us home. Drums lead into a bridge as Williams’ gets soulful, chanting “Don’t go crying to your mama/ ‘Cause you’re on your own in the real world (Don’t go crying)” while accompanied by a full Gospel choir. The satire is erased, now, it’s time to grow up. And with the release of such an unsuspecting and unusual song, it seems the band has already done so. 

In all, ‘Ain’t It Fun’ is masterfully produced, and masterfully clever. Simply put, it’s a fun song about the world actually being not-so-fun. It was a bold move for the former pop-punk doyens to recalculate their usual formula, but it paid off. ‘Ain’t It Fun’ became their highest charting hit, going triple-platinum in the U.S. and winning the 2015 GRAMMY for Best Rock Song. Now, it was official: Paramore is not a one-trick pony, but a band capable of evolving and getting better and better. 

(Sam Small)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘Decode’

Written for the Twilight film back in 2008, ‘Decode’ is a massive 00’s alt anthem that beautifully showcases the band’s more ‘emo’ side.

The track seamlessly follows on from the themes of the movie, featuring twinkling guitars and a dark musical undertone, both of which combined make the track feel heavier and more intense than some of the band’s other releases. 

Although the lyrics are written about the intricate and complicated relationship between Twilight’s two protagonists, they’re remarkably easy to relate to the non-Twilight world. Building on this, Hayley Williams’ vocals are nothing short of show-stopping, with her angsty yet beautiful tones capturing two key elements of classic 00’s emo that is still loved by so many today.

‘Decode’ went platinum in the USA back in 2010, and was even nominated for Best Song Written For A Movie at the Grammys in the same year.

(Samantha Hall)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘All I Wanted’

Right from the get-go, ‘All I Wanted’ is one of the most iconic Paramore tracks to date; a classic that features everything you’d expect from the band back in 2009. From the plucky guitar build-up to Hayley William’s incredible vocals, the track is a musical spectacle that deserves to be played loudly, and has the innate ability to take your breath away. Lyrics depict loving someone so much that they’re all you want – a concept doused in romantic obsession that is portrayed incredibly through both music and lyrics.

Despite Hayley once explaining that the track almost didn’t make it onto the album, All I Wanted has since become a massive fan favourite. It’s hard to believe that the track has only been played once live, where lucky attendees of the When We Were Young festival back in October 2022 got to hear it in person for the first time ever.

(Samantha Hall)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘Rose-Colored Boy’

A track that perfectly captures the difficulties of feeling like you have to continually look at the world with optimism, ‘Rose-Colored Boy’ is just one example of some of the lyrical dissonance that’s ever-so prevalent in Paramore’s 2017 album, ‘After Laughter’.

Covering that never-ending feeling of hopelessness that we all so commonly feel about both the world and ourselves, the lyrics beautifully contrast with upbeat, 80’s inspired pop hooks and feature some incredibly catchy lines. “You say ‘we gotta look at the bright side, I say ‘well maybe if you wanna go blind’” is a perfect example of this, as well as the intro and outro line “Low-key, no pressure! Just hang with me and my weather”.

As only the second track on the album, both ‘Rose-Colored Boy’ and the preceding ‘Hard Times’, come together to create the perfect album introduction, setting the tone more than suitably for the tracks ahead.

(Samantha Hall)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘26’

What happens after the laughter? You have to come to terms with reality. Hayley Williams gives us one of the most vulnerable and important bridges in Paramore’s career with ‘26’ – “Reality will break your heart / Survival will not be the hardest part / It’s keeping all your hopes alive / When all the rest of you has died / So let it break your heart.” Just as emotive as ‘The Only Exception,’ Hayley Williams helps guide us out of the darkness with a heartfelt message to herself. Taking catharsis to new heights, ‘26’ is like a beacon of light for those with depression. Williams wants us to hold onto hope at whatever cost, and with a gentle backdrop of slowed-down guitars and glittering strings, it’s impossible for us to not listen to her. 

Whilst ‘After Laughter’ contains tracks that use their vibrant melodies to mask and contrast dark subjects and lyrics, this bittersweet song lets you sit in your feelings, embrace them in all aspects, and dream them away.

(Sahar Ghadirian)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘Feeling Sorry’

Need a song to wake you up from the depths of self-pity and self-loathing? This is the one.  Early adulthood is a weird one. As with any age, there comes a set of expectations. Some people are lucky. They know what they want and they go for it. It’s like following a simple, structured path. For others, you don’t know whether you’re coming or going. ‘Feeling Sorry’ sums up the confusion, waywardness, and self-sabotage that can feel symptomatic of your late teens and 20s.

A personal standout on ‘Brand New Eyes,’ Paramore match heavy emotions with a heavier sound that could fit seamlessly on ‘Riot!’ Are the lyrics empowering or brash? Williams spares no sympathy, so if you feel attacked, maybe you need to hear what she’s singing. Ultimately, ‘Feeling Sorry’ demands you to look forward because “you can’t run from your shame.”

(Sahar Ghadirian)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘Fake Happy’

All the singles on ‘After Laughter’ did a lot of legwork to blend Paramore’s first full pop outing in with the rest of their catalogue. ‘Your Hard Times’, ‘Your Rose Colored Boy’, they did a stunning job of proving that Paramore can still provide monumental energy levels, paving the way for us to fall in love with the more mellow moments that lay deeper in AL’s tracklisting – but of all the songs chosen to represent ‘After Laughter’ as singles, ‘Fake Happy’ cuts the deepest on an emotional level under its shiny pop exterior – the contrast between Hayley’s super-soft intro and the effervescent synth instrumentals, the contrast between the brightness in the music and the lonely, frustrated lyrics… A glossy pop veneer with a devastating emotional heart couldn’t be more apt – for one of Paramore’s best songs, look no further.

(Ims Taylor)

Best Paramore Songs – ‘Playing God’

Paramore’s third album ‘Brand New Eyes’ is littered with all sorts of difficult characters Hayley Williams has encountered – and she happened to be in a band with one of them. Growing up Christian in the South, Williams and former guitarist Josh Farro dated and broke up during ‘Brand New Eyes’. On ‘Playing God’, Williams unknots the rigid morality of a superiority complex, finding herself equally entangled. 

The first half is steeped with venom, and Williams delivers her vocals with seething acid. ‘Next time you point a finger, I’ll point you to the mirror,” she accuses. But after two verses of sneering and jeering, the sour solo guitar riffs give way to a swash of reverb-soaked power chords in the bridge. “This is the last second chance… I’m on both sides of the fence”, Williams warns – “I’ll point you to the mirror”, Farro volleys. It’s a wonderfully conflicted portrait of Paramore in the throes of an internal crisis. 

(Alex Rigotti)

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