10 years of 'The Only Exception': Remembering Paramore's highest-charting Hot 100 hit (at the time)

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Close your eyes. Think about the Mount Rushmore of 2000s music. Who comes to mind? Band-aid Nelly? American Idol Season 1 Kelly Clarkson? 8-Mile Marshall Mathers?

Beyonce? JT?

If you're sitting at a bar or a barbershop, and this particular debate arose, there is at least a fair chance Paramore, led by red-hair Hayley Williams, gets brought up (if only as an honorable mention, if only to elongate the discussion).

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There's an even better chance someone at that table knew a girl who cut her bangs haphazardly and died her hair red and orange. There is possibly an even better chance someone at the table knew a guy in their high school scene who did the same.

It was, for all intents and purposes, a 2000s version of "The Rachael." (At this point, the discussion may, and probably should shift toward the Mount Rushmore of Iconic Haircuts, which Haley should, once again, at least be mentioned as an honorable mention among those who grew up in the aughts.)

Next month, "Brand New Eyes" turns 10, a milestone that signals the next round of absurdity in nostalgia, designations that forever seem only appropriate for the likes of Pearl Jam or "The Blue Album."

Hell, "Enema of the State" turns 20 this year, and to quote Craig Finn of "The Hold Steady," it's almost as if distance doesn't equal rate and time anymore.

It's like gravity doesn't apply.

Nonetheless, these anniversaries won't stop popping up, and someday we will get to blast "Despacito" loud as shit once more and remember that summer of weddings where the music was a little better and the dancing was a little boozier.

It's worth keeping in mind that the industry was rapidly shifting toward streaming during Paramore's tenure, though speaking strictly in terms of numbers, record sales dropped as their efforts climbed the charts in the early going (that is to say "All We Know is Falling" and "Riot!" sold well).

"Paramore slowed things down on the standout single from 2009's "Brand New Eyes," with the touching ballad "The Only Exception" surprising fans and scoring the band's highest-charting Hot 100 hit at the time," notes a write-up from Billboard.

So how do we remember "Brand New Eyes"? Here's a snippet from The Rolling Stone


Produced by Rob Cavallo, the follow-up has a whiff of Important Rock Statement: Singer Hayley Williams blazes TV preachers, does some career-oriented stock-taking (“Looking Up”) and even tries an acoustic ballad. But someof the sweeping moments blunt the band’s fresh-faced immediacy —as if the cute kids from the sticks have had a hard time turning pro.
— The Rolling Stone

Before calling dibs on the theoretical band name Cute Kids from the Sticks, here's a quick guess at what the legacy of "Brand New Eyes" would be: This is an album Paramore fans enjoy, though it may not be their best (or even 2nd-best) record. It gave us the band's first ballad hit, a hit that signaled a permanent change in the band's direction -- that direction being things that sound different than "Riot!" (Personnel shifts within the group, of course, played a role in this change.)

But we're allowed to enjoy "The Only Exception" if we want, and we're allowed to hate it if we want. Personally, I think "Miss You" is a friggin' masterpiece, and I think "New American Classic" sucks butt.

 

But bands earn the right to change things up, and after two killer records, Haley and Paramore had certainly earned "The Only Exception" (as well as the chart success that followed in years to come).

BONUS: If you're looking for a Paramore nostalgia drinking game, here's what I'd suggest -- make a playlist of your favorite songs. Don't drink all night unless "Ain't It Fun" and "Franklin" play back to back. When it does, quickly drink all the booze you have in your house. You will not feel good about this. Actually, don't do this.



ALSO: Does "Airplanes" make the Paramore playlist? (This article should have been about the 10-year anniversary of "Airplanes, I'm realizing in real-time, and that is a missed opportunity that I regret deeply. OK then. Bye bye.

ONE MORE THING: We did an episode all about Paramore. You can listen to it here….