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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Emerson chapter.

Living in NYC has its perks. Waking up at 6 a.m. to see your favorite band perform for the first time (and for free!) is definitely one of them. On August 25, 2017, I waited around Central Park at the Good Morning America Summer Concert Stage with nothing except my overpowering anticipation keeping me upright, despite getting only three hours of restless sleep. Now, I am no music critic nor do I have any musical talent to warrant credibility, but Paramore is one of the best artists of all time. Of all time!! That’s not a title I bestow lightly. If you’re a Paramore noob, here are my favorite songs that I recommend you check out first.

(I actually love every single Paramore song, but for the sake of this article, I chose one per album.)

  1. After Laughter (2017) – “Caught in the Middle”

Paramore’s fifth and most recent studio album offered something brand new that some people just weren’t ready for. The band’s sound is completely different, but the lyrics are emotional and familiar. For this album, I chose Track 9: “Caught in the Middle” as my favorite. This song confronts the harsh reality of getting older paired with not knowing what direction you’re headed. The groovy yet steady beat juxtaposed with vocalist Hayley Williams’ growing sense of uncertainty make this song perfect for someone who hates fixating on the past as much as thinking about the unknown future.

Favorite Lyric: “No, I don’t need no help/ I can sabotage me by myself”​

​2. Paramore (2013) – “Future”

Going off the same thread, “Future,” Track 17 of Paramore’s self-titled album, explores actually moving forward and letting go of the past. Of course this is easier said than done, but declaring out loud that you’re committed to the future is nothing to dismiss. The song starts off slow and gentle and continuously builds to the “sonic explosion” Alternative Press fittingly calls the booming instrumentals that eventually overtake the song. It’s not your typical song by any means and because of that, it’s special. It’s my dream to see this song performed live. Here’s a video of a performance of “Future” in all its unadulterated glory. (Former bassist Jeremy Davis at this point had left the band, leaving Hayley and lead guitarist Taylor York alone to figure out the future of Paramore—if there was going to be one at all.)

Favorite Lyric: “Something won’t always be missing/ You won’t always feel empty, here”

3. Singles Club (2011) – “Monster”

Singles Club isn’t technically an album, but an EP featuring the first release of new music since the Farro brothers left the band, (drummer Zac Farro later rejoined the band with the release of After Laughter). I decided to include this body of work anyway because I personally think it isn’t talked about enough. “Monster” is unflinching and aggressive and so distinctly expresses Hayley’s anger after the public and tense departure of Josh and Zac Farro. This song contains a promise, a promise that Paramore will stay afloat in the face of attempted defamation.

Favorite Lyric: “Don’t you ever wonder, how we survive?/ Well, now that you’re gone, the world is ours”

4. Brand New Eyes (2009) – “Turn It Off”

Brand New Eyes might be my favorite Paramore album only because it includes Track 5: “Turn It Off” (and also the iconic “All I Wanted”). Despite the title, the last thing I want to do is turn off the music when this song comes on. There are heavy religious connotations in this song as Hayley starts to critique the church and the beliefs she grew up following. As someone who didn’t grow up very religious at all, I still find so many of the lyrics applicable to my own life. To me, this song is about grappling with your worldview and what happens when you realize your identity doesn’t coincide with it.

Favorite Lyric: “I wanna know what it’d be like/ to find perfection in my pride/ to see nothing in the light”

5. Riot! (2007) – “Let the Flames Begin”

I think for most fans, Riot! is their favorite Paramore album and I totally get why. This album cemented Paramore’s place among the greatest 2000s pop punk bands. There’s no other way to say it, but this album goes hard. Every song is an absolute banger filled with unbridled angst and rage, with the exception of maybe “When It Rains” (Track 5), which is a bit softer and more delicate. The song everyone knows off this album is of course, “Misery Business,” but I’d argue that “Let the Flames Begin” (Track 6) is the most passionate song in Riot!. This performance is all the proof you need.

Favorite Lyric: “Somewhere weakness is our strength/ And I’ll die searching for it”

6. All We Know is Falling (2005) – “My Heart”

Paramore’s debut album often goes unnoticed due to its powerful successor. Still, every great artist starts somewhere and this album is a masterpiece in itself. The final track (Track 10) is the perfect way to end an album and solidifies the fact that Paramore will always have a place in “My Heart.”

Favorite Lyric: “Sing us a song/ And we’ll sing it back to you”


7. The B-Sides (2008) – “Breathe (Until Tomorrow)”

The B-Sides isn’t an official album, but rather, a fan-made compilation of all of Paramore’s unreleased songs. Clearly, I’m taking every opportunity I can to include more recommendations. This song is sorrowful, pitiful, and painful—truly the most harrowing breakup song I’ve ever heard.

Favorite Lyric: “But I lay here all alone/ Sweating all your blood”

8. Petals For Armor (2020) – “Crystal Clear”

Okay Petals For Armor isn’t a Paramore album, but it still feels like it. Petals For Armor is Hayley Williams’ debut solo album and features the talents of Taylor York and Zac Farro. This album is so vulnerable and raw and the blossoming of Hayley as an artist and human being. The track “Crystal Clear” is hauntingly beautiful and meaningful as it includes a sample of Hayley’s grandfather’s song “Friends or Lovers”—a song he wrote and dedicated to his wife (Hayley’s grandmother) who he’s been with since he was twelve years old.

Favorite Lyric: “Jump in with the rush in my head/ Only to find the water was concrete”

Caitlin Taylor So is a senior Emerson student studying publishing and marketing. She loves nothing more than curling up with a good story.