The Hit Songs Deconstructed Wire

Ain't It Fun



Released as the fourth single from Paramore’s self-titled fourth album, “Ain’t It Fun” is one of the band’s most successful songs to date, peaking at #10 on the Hot 100 and hitting #1 on the U.S. Adult Top 40 and Rock Songs charts.

Many key factors contributed to the song’s success.  For starters, it’s completely in sync with some of the hottest trends of the day  – Retro Funk, R&B and Gospel – which allows a mainstream audience to easily connect with the song.  In addition, it features numerous hooks and “payoffs,” universal and biting lyrics that cleverly contrast the upbeat nature of the music, and a more commercial sound to appeal to a wide audience. One of its most important qualities, however, is its overtly adventurous nature in relation to the band’s previous work.  This was achieved via a strategic blend of diverse genres and influences coupled with the incorporation of non-typical instrumentation.

To start, take a look at  the instruments.  When was the last time a xylophone was featured prominently within a mainstream hit?  Certainly, the instrument isn’t commonplace to popular music. In “Ain’t It Fun,” however, it shines front and center, being used to deliver both of the song’s primary instrumental hooks.  This provides the song with a unique sound that enables it to stand out and resonate amongst its mainstream contemporaries.

How about its ability to blend a variety of disparate genres in a seamless manner?    “Ain’t It Fun” is one of the most adventurous songs currently popular; it possesses  an infectious blend of Pop, Rock, Gospel, Funk and R&B elements under a ‘80s and ‘90s retro umbrella.  Fusing so many unique styles under one roof is no easy task, but the songwriters seem to have  pulled it off in grand fashion.

What follows is a breakdown of how each individual genre was strategically featured within each section of the song:

Intro: (Pop, Rock)

The “light” quality of the xylophone coupled with its associated melody provides the section with its Pop nature. Within two seconds, a distorted electric guitar is added to the mix which puts the Rock vibe into effect.

Verse: (Pop, Rock, Funk)

Williams’ vocals, via the nature of the melody and her associated delivery, feature both Pop and Rock qualities. The driving nature of the bass leans toward the Rock side, while the bass “flourishes” provide the section with a Funk natured twist.

Pre-Chorus: (Pop, Funk, R&B, Retro ‘80s, Rock – secondary)

The nature of the bass and synth are steeped in early ‘80s retro Funk, with the latter also possessing elements of early/mid ‘80s Pop. Williams’ vocals and overall nature of the backing music possess a distinct retro ‘80s Funk, Pop, R&B vibe as well. Additionally, the entire section has an edge to it, a secondary Rock influence that gives the pre-chorus an extra bit of bite.

Chorus: (Rock – primary, Pop – secondary, Retro ‘90s)

The upfront distorted guitars and driving drums provide the section with its retro ‘90s Alt Rock vibe. The nature of Williams’ soaring delivery leans more toward the Rock side as well, while  the vocal melody has a distinctly Pop aesthetic (except for chorus part B within the second chorus, where it takes on more of an edgy Rock nature). The xylophone hook (and later guitar) accentuates the Pop quality of the section as well.

Bridge: (Gospel & Rock – primary, Funk & Pop – secondary)

First and foremost, the nature of the clapping hands and choir group vocals bring the Gospel vibe of the section into full effect. Williams’ lead provides a bit of subtle R&B/Soul via her vocal “flourishes.” The “chugging” electric guitar brings the Rock, the bass “flourishes” bring the Funk, and the synth provides the section with a subtle Electropop vibe.

Vocal Break: (Pop – primary, Gospel – secondary, Rock – end of section

Williams’ vocals possess qualities of Pop and, to a lesser extent, Gospel. It’s the claps, however, which really keep the Gospel vibe of the section in effect.  The bass, drums, and guitar that enter at the tail end reinstitute the Rock influence as the song moves back into the powerful chorus.

Outro: (Gospel, Rock, Pop, Funk, R&B, Retro ‘80s, Retro ‘90s)

The outro functions as a “super payoff” for the listener by fusing all of the song’s key hooks, genres, and influences into one over-the-top section.  The fact that it lasts for an exceptionally lengthy1:15 and leaves the audience still wanting more is a testament to “Ain’t It Fun’s” expertly well crafted nature.

This article features highlights and takeaways from our ‘Ain’t It Fun Deconstructed Report. The full report provides you with a comprehensive analysis of what made the song a hit coupled with immediately actionable insights to help take your songwriting and producing skills to the next level. Hit Songs Deconstructed PRO subscribers can access the full report by clicking here.  Not a PRO subscriber?  Click here to find out what a PRO subscription includes.