Paramore’s iconic and sound-defining album, Riot!, is officially 10 years old this week! Can you believe it? Neither can I, honestly. But here we are, celebrating the 10th anniversary of an absolutely amazing punk album by one of emo’s greatest heroes. While Rock Sound decided to celebrate by talking to various bands about what Riot! means to them, I’m choosing to celebrate by taking a track-by-track look through this iconic album!
As a bit of background, Riot! is Paramore’s sophomore studio album, made with Fueled By Ramen (All Time Low, Twenty One Pilots). This album includes “Misery Business,” the song that put Paramore on the punk and mainstream maps. Riot! expanded Paramore’s fanbase beyond the small group it used to be and solidified the band’s position in the music world.
Interestingly, if you read the initial reviews of the album from 2007 (and I did), many critics were pessimistic about this album and felt it was an inconsequential point in Paramore’s career. Reading those words now and seeing just how wrong those people were, it really makes you realize that music that may seem unimportant in any way now, could be majorly impactful or important down the road.
This is such a cool opening track, and I liked that it started with the fast guitars and drums. “For a Pessimist” is a personal favorite. The song vocalizes lead singer Hayley Williams’ frustrations with someone whom she trusted only to be led on, and is now acting like he doesn’t know why she’s upset over a problem he caused. Co-writer and band member Josh Farro said that “[it’s about] putting your faith in someone and they blow it” (Wikipedia)
2. That’s What You Get
Track number 2 is your token song that contains the album title (“If I ever start to think straight / This heart will start a riot in me”). I love how that lyric is phrased! Fun fact about this song: this song was written by the winner of a Write a Song for Paramore contest held in 2007. “That’s What You Get” was written by Michael Benedict, who based these lyrics off a poem he had written sophomore year for English (genius.com).
Unfortunately, this is not a cover of any sorts of Leonard Cohen’s original beauty…although I wonder what a Paramore cover of that song would sound like! “Hallelujah” is a great track, showing off Williams’ higher vocal range on the title portion of the chorus. According to genius.com, “Hallelujah” it meant to be a feel-good song depicting Paramore’s self-faith and “their hope of…being the best form of Paramore they can be.”
4. Misery Business*
THIS SONG. I still get so psyched up and start headbanging every time it comes on–how could you not?! 10 years later and “Misery Business” is still one of the most classic and best emo songs of all time (at least in my opinion). The pure angst of the song, from the lyrics to the very fast paced music, throws you right back to middle school (or high school, depending on how old you were then). It’s become one of the ultimate nostalgia songs while still being a great rock song.
This song plays more like a 2000s pop track that you’d hear on the radio. (And maybe you did, I won’t judge!) I will say, I love the single guitar notes that open the track–simple, clean, and just cool! “When It Rains” is about someone reminiscing about a friend who suffered from depression and committed suicide, wishing they could come back.
6. Let the Flames Begin
Like with “Misery Business,” you can practically feel the anger and emotion conveyed in this song. It’s a combination of Williams’ vocals, the lyrics, hard guitars, and intense drums. (…Which I guess makes that everything in this song!) The song is about “keeping the faith while in tough times” (genius.com).
I kind of feel like “Miracle” is one of the more underrated songs by Paramore. It’s about someone taking the reins and refusing to keep on being alive without actually living. In this song, the girl is telling the guy she wants to be with that she won’t give up up them, that he should give them a chance to be something great.
I can’t recall if I first heard this song in a Spotify playlist, or if my best friend played it for me while we were driving one time. “crushcrushcrush” feels like the ultimate punk rock version of a pop love song and I thoroughly enjoy that about this song. My favorite quote: “”Crushcrushcrush” makes an innocent concept sinister” (Rolling Stone).
9. We Are Broken
“We Are Broken” is easily the most emotional track off the album. The mix of emotional expression and softer music makes this track stand out from its faster, punk-ier album-mates. I always love when bands like Paramore do softer songs, because those are always their most beautiful and meaningful songs. Lyrically, this song feels like it falls more in line with the band’s more religious side: it’s written as if it’s a prayer. This little thing makes the song feel a bit more beautiful and powerful to me.
IGN wrote that this track “sounds like it was stolen from Panic! At the Disco.” And it really does–you would think that Paramore covered a song from the latter half of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. The fact that it’s an original of theirs kind of makes it better to me.
11. Born for This
The closer track is a song that’s meant to get fans to sing along, regardless of where in the lineup this song is sung in concert. (Although this song is a perfect concert closer!) This is especially evident from the band’s use of call and response within the first verse. The lyrics sample Swedish hardcore band Refused‘s “Liberation Frequency” (“we want the airwaves back“); that line was actually one of my favorites and I like that the band pulled it from that particular influence. My favorite quote on this song: “The track’s gang vocals and staccato guitar parts make it one of the most upbeat tracks on the album” (SPIN).
*The album also contains an acoustic rendition of “Misery Business.”
Like what you hear? Go follow Paramore on Spotify, and check out their website for more info about the new album, their upcoming tour, and more! You can also follow Paramore on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. For more videos, subscribe to their YouTube!
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