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The 11 best Paramore songs

Why have a Top 10 when you can have one more? Here are our 11 favourite Paramore songs, ranked

Emerging from Tennessee in the mid-noughties as one of Fuelled By Ramen’s brightest new talents, Paramore is a band that many feel they have grown up with. From the moody high-school angst of All We Know Is Falling and Riot! days all the way to the pastel-coloured art pop dream of After Laughter, Hayley Williams, Zac Farro and James York have matured while keeping their galvanising energy always alight.

As they prepare for a new chapter with forthcoming album This Is Why, and with news of a string of UK dates next April, we take on the task of ranking their best 11 songs.

11. This Is Why

(This Is Why, 2023)

This self-titled first taste of the band’s forthcoming sixth studio album This Is Why is a certified psych-rock grower, a little understated on first listen before wedging its place firmly between the ears. The After Laughter chimes can be heard in the background, but this track feels a little closer to drummer Zac Farro’s project HalfNoise, with its funky psych-pop licks and grooves.

10. The Only Exception

(Brand New Eyes, 2009)

Paramore’s stadium-scale, tear jerking Coldplay moment (the first few seconds even sound like ‘Yellow’), Williams has called ‘The Only Exception’ the first love she ever wrote. Glistening and gorgeous, it’s builds into a huge, cathartic swell, but most fans will agree its most special live renditions are stripped back, like at Reading Festival 2014 after a power cut.

9. Hard Times

(Hard Times, 2017)

This was the lead single that introduced Paramore’s technicolor, Talking Heads phase. Rhythmic, multi-layered their most playful track to date (despite charting some of Williams’ lowest points), the influence of Manchester’s Dutch Uncles is clear, even if it did come as a surprise.

8. Ain’t It Fun

(Paramore, 2013)

Interestingly, with its disco beat and peppy xylophone, ‘Ain’t It Fun’ would have felt at home on After Laughter, despite featuring on their eponymous record just before their four year hiatus. This won Paramore their first Grammy Award for Best Rock Song, but it’s also got heaps of soul and groove.

7. crushcrushcrush

(Riot!, 2007)

Oh yes. Backcomb your crown, slide that fringe to the side and get on those checked vans. A true emo-pop belter with a suitably cheesy middle-eight that could open up the pit in seconds, there could have been no better song for a heartbroken angsty teen to stick in their Walkman on the way to school.

6. All I Wanted

(Brand New Eyes, 2009)

Initially leaning closer to emo in the Midwest, American Football sense (Williams would later sing with the Chicago band on ‘Uncomfortably Numb‘) before turning into an all-out grungy head banger, ‘All I Wanted’ almost didn’t make it onto Brand New Eyes but ended up being one of its best moments.

5. Told You So

(After Laughter, 2017)

Another sprightly highlight from After Laughter, albeit musically a little more emotive than ‘Hard Times’, ‘Told You So’ spotlights Paramore’s busy command of rhythm, a talent that should be spoken about more. On first listen its fast pace maybe makes it hard to appreciate how much is actually going on.

4. Decode

(Brand New Eyes, 2009)

I hope you’re sitting down: this hit was released 14 years ago to the day at the time of publishing. Written for the Twilight saga, which the band understandably didn’t want to be tied solely to, ‘Decode’ nevertheless features perhaps Williams’ most outstanding vocal performance ever, soaring and devastatingly shattering above the rest of the band’s crashing rock tempest.

3. Misery Business

(Riot, 2007)

“Woah, I never meant to brag/ But I got him where I want him now”. Huge. One of the biggest choruses of the noughties, in fact. A story of a high school bully, Williams and the band turned away from this song for a few years, though brought it back when the singer joined Billie Eilish onstage at Coachella earlier this year. That drum break before the final chorus was, and still is, an air drummer’s delight.

2. I Caught Myself

(The B-Sides, 2008)

This one’s for the heads. A bit of a deep cut, but how this B-side never made it on an album is frankly wild. Most likely again it’s the association with Twilight, but it still finds its way onto their setlists; the icy cold twinkle of the layered guitars, bolstered by Farro’s weighty drum hits is just irresistible. The half-time outro is a real emphatic set closer too.

1. Brick by Boring Brick

(Brand New Eyes, 2009)

Scintillating and electrifying in equal hits, scratchy pop-punk anthem ‘Brick by Boring Brick’ seemed to foreshadow the faux reality of social media just as its escapism was beginning to settle in: “Well, you built up a world of magic/ Because your real life is tragic”. Sure, the “ba-da-ba-ba-da-ba-ba-ba”s are a little of its time, but yet again the band save it with one the most intense goose bump-inducing choruses of their career.