The pop-rock trio Paramore have been responsible for some of the best music of the 2000s, 2010s, and now 2020s, and is one of the most prevalent female-led rock bands of modern times. Through 15 years, the band has notched its fair share of hits, including the 2013 smash “Ain’t It Fun,” which is not only one of the band’s best known songs — and their highest peaking song on the Billboard Hot 100 — but also holds a special place in history as the band’s first (and as of this writing, only) Grammy Award win.
Despite their success, the Grammys never went all in on Paramore. Their first nomination was for Best New Artist in 2008, which they (understandably) lost to Amy Winehouse. “Decode,” their song for the movie “Twilight,” earned them their second nomination, this time for Best Song Written for Visual Media. A year later the band earned a third nom, in the category of Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, for their top-40 hit “The Only Exception.” None of the band’s albums up to then were nominated in any album category, nor had they touched the rock field yet. After that last nomination, the band went unnoticed by the Grammys for their self-titled record in the Best Rock Album category. However, that album’s final single was about to change that.
“Ain’t It Fun” was released to radio in February 2014. It steadily rose up the charts, and by May it reached the top 10 of the Hot 100. So a Grammy nomination for the song wasn’t a surprise, especially since it was one of the biggest rock songs of the entire year. The win, however, wasn’t a sure bet for the band, for two reasons. First, “Ain’t It Fun” only got a Best Rock Song nomination. While not being nominated anywhere else isn’t necessarily a kiss of death, it does indicate more support when you’re able to score in multiple categories. So it was weird to see Paramore only get into that one race, likely helped by the fact that their song would have been right on top of the alphabetical ballot.
Its competition was tough but clearly not invincible. Grammy favorites The Black Keys and Jack White were nominated for their tracks “Fever” and “Lazaretto,” respectively. That year’s Album of the Year winner Beck was nominated for his track “Blue Moon,” while now-disgraced rock star Ryan Adams contended for his cut “Gimme Something Good.” Since the rock field often favors veterans and past winners, many expected Paramore to lose the award. For example, Vulture predicted The Black Keys, citing their additional Best Rock Performance nomination as the reason, and so did Vox.
So how did Paramore finally win? Being the most successful song in the bunch certainly helped, but I’d argue that being relegated to one category helped as well, ironically. Since Jack White, The Black Keys, and Beck were nominated in other categories, voters could easily spread the wealth to them elsewhere if they wanted to, which they did: White took home Best Rock Performance, while Beck won Best Rock Album. More surprisingly, The Black Keys went home empty-handed, though perhaps voters were just tired of voting for the band after awarding them for two albums straight. Finally, Paramore might’ve been helped by the optics: it was the first win by a woman in more than 15 years in that category, and it was also a win for a band that had been criminally undervalued by rock voters despite their success.
Given the Olivia Rodrigo-and-TikTok-assisted Paramore renaissance, the band having a Grammy feels right. Even better, they won for one of their classics, a killer track that showcases their pop sensibilities while still being a fun rock song, encapsulating everything we love Paramore for. Plus, what a blessing that they won for one song whose words they do not have to change in 2023.
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