Reader, before you move forward in this post, I want you to promise me something: that you will pay heed to my call to action and contribute in the comment section. I’m not asking you much, and I bet it will even be something that you’ll enjoy thinking about and sharing (anonymously if you must).
For the subject of this post is both fun and universal; it is something that we all have but may be hesitant to admit (even though we always feel better after doing so). So if you are going to be entertained by the admissions that I and the MSF are about to make, you damn well better be willing to step up to the plate with at least one of your own.
Now that I’ve spoken my peace in an attempt to galvanize an excited commentariat, let’s get down to brass tacks and reveal some embarrassing but thoroughly entertaining guilty music pleasures.
This post was inspired by a Facebook comment that Keith Mullett made yesterday. He listed three songs that he is proud to listen to despite said songs often being the butt of jokes or insults from others. I cannot remember what two of them were because for the last 24 hours I have been able to do nothing but hum and sing the third: “Easy Lover” by frequent South Park punchline Phil Collins.
Yes, that’s right. I love the song “Easy Lover” and I don’t care who knows it. That’s why it kicks off this list of my favorite guilty musical pleasures.
And in case you are wondering how I define “guilty musical pleasure,” here you go:
Guilty Musical Pleasure:
If you were hosting a house party of both close friends and random acquaintances, at least some of whom you wanted to impress or at least cared about their opinion on trivial things, and your iTunes was being shuffled as the party music, what songs would make you do a double take if they started playing because your gut reaction would be slight (or even extreme) embarrassment at said song coming on?
Now, I am giving and asking for your favorite of these guilty musical pleasures, so even though you might feel a tinge of embarrassment, these are the songs you’d still be secretly to have play — judgment be damned.
Reader Action Item
So here is your action item dear reader, which is the exact same action item that I gave to our writing stuff: suck it up and head to the comment section at any time during your perusal of this post to admit your gavorite guilty musical pleasure. Don’t worry, you’re among friends here. This is a safe place. (Plus, after I’m done admitting mine and become the laughingstock of this site, I’m sure you’ll feel emboldened.)
Now here’s my list, which was originally going to be just 10 songs but grew to 18 as I proved unable to whittle the list down any more than this.
Guilty Pleasure #1: “Easy Lover” by Phil Collins
I really just do not understand how people hate this song – not that everyone does, in fact many you probably love it like I do, but there is definitely plenty of hate for it out there. The beat, the tempo, are just irresistible. And the lyrics, while not particularly insightful or rich with meaning (at all), are catchy and eminently singable.
And, for those wondering, yes I do always try to sing along with Philip Bailey, even if I can’t come within two octaves of him. Someday.
Guilty Pleasure #2: “Don’t Bother” by Shakira
I’ve always loved Shakira. I enjoy her singing, she’s a very likable person who gives plenty of time and resources to good causes, and…well she’s not difficult to look at. Also, her dancing lives little to be desired. (Wait…that’s the wrong way to use that phrase. It leaves a lot to be desired, oh does it ever, while leaving little to the imagination. There, that’s better.)
And not that it’s uncool to like Shakira, or necessarily embarrassing, because millions upon millions of people around the world love her, but there are certain songs performed by female artists that make a grown man sound like a chump to sing out loud. “Don’t Bother” is definitely one of these songs. It’s basically a girl power song in which Shakira overcomes her insecurities after a relationship ends to move on strongly, promising never to let the idiot who let her get away (and for someone else! WHO!?) see her cry.
But despite not being able to relate with it, I like it. So don’t bother making fun of me. I’ve come to terms with it.
Also, I’ve seen the video enough that it plays in my head whenever I hear the song. Knowing that fact, after you see the video you’ll probably understand a little bit better why I like the song.
Shakira sure is purdy, ain’t she?
Guilty Pleasure #3: “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson
I promise you that this post will be more than me admitting and then rationalizing liking chick songs. (At least I hope.) Either way, if I don’t include this song I would just be masking my clandestine love affair with it, and that would defeat the purpose of this post.
First off, Kelly Clarkson’s voice is awesome. I’m pretty sure that if she sang Keith’s article about Daily Joust I’d love it and start singing along…because when I like a song, I always sing along. (Yep, I’m one of those.)
What makes this song great is that even though the lyrics are simplistic, they are universal and espouse an optimistic, hopeful view of life that anyone could benefit from adopting. That’s right damnit, out of the darkness and into the sun, Kelly Clarkson is inspiring.
Spread my wings? Make a wish? Touch the sky? You’re damn right I will! And I’ll sing along as I’m doing it.
Guilty Pleasure #4: “Heaven” by Live
I don’t know if this song should really be here.
And by that I mean, I’m not sure there is really anything “guilty” about this pleasure. It’s a great song, even if it’s more religious in theme than most songs I like. Maybe it’s just that there is something kind of derivative-sounding about the actual music and instrumentation of this song to my admittedly not-musically-sophisticated ears (so take that assessment for what it’s worth).
I think I can best boil it down thusly: I feel like people might pass judgment one way or another if this song came on at the fictitious party we’re using as the basis for choosing these songs, but I really wouldn’t care either way. I think this song. In all its potential derivativeness, it’s awesome. And if I ever have a daughter, I’m sure I’ll like it even more.
Now I’m curious. I’m really starting to think that this song shouldn’t be listed here, but that’s good because now I can add a poll and get your opinion and we can settle this once and for all.
Guilty Pleasure #5: “Everything” by Michael Buble
I feel cheesy when I belt this song out in my car, but whatever. This is an enjoyable ditty from the modern day Sinatra (just kidding, I find that laughably ridiculous too), and I actually feel like I hold up pretty well when I sing it.
It kind of pisses me off when the record label (I assume) won’t let you embed the official video, but I won’t hold that against the song. I still guiltily love it anyway.
Guilty Pleasure #6: “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5
So far none of these songs have been very current. Thus, I figured I should try to find a current song that I’m not proud to say I like. Here it is.
I’ll admit that while the video does nothing for me, and I’m not a huge fan of the cartoonish whistling, the beat and rhythm of “Moves Like Jagger” sucks me in every damn time I hear it. And though I don’t care much about Adam Levine’s Jagger-like moves, he can sing well enough.
And speaking of singing, I am a sucker for anything sung by Christina Aguilera. (Full disclosure: I contemplated putting “Lady Marmelade” on this list, but I really only like Aguilera’s part in that song while being annoyed by the rest of it, so I chose this song instead since I like the whole thing.)
Guilty Pleasure #7: “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen
It’s much more an indictment of my own occasional musical insecurity than anything else that this great song from this transcendent band is on here. Why the hell should I feel guilty about listening to this pop masterpiece, performed by one of the greatest bands ever, and sung by one of the five greatest vocalists of all time?
I don’t know. I guess I just feel kind of dorky belting out lyrics like “I’m a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva / I’m gonna go go go / There’s no stopping me!” But belt them out I do, though unlike when singing a Michael Buble song I do not flatter myself into thinking I sound anything like the great Freddie Mercury, may he rest in peace.
Guilty Pleasure #8: “Life Is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts
Yep, you read that right. Not only is “Life Is a Highway” on this list, but I didn’t even have the decency or good sense to get hooked on the original Tom Cochrane version. I like, damn near love, the Rascal Flatts version. I’m not sure I can really explain why, so I won’t try.
Here it is, made even cheesier (that’s possible?) when accompanied by the visuals in this video:
Guilty Pleasure #9: “Another Day” from Rent
Yes, in addition to enjoying Phil Collins, Adam Levine singing about Mick Jagger, and cover songs by Rascal Flatts, I’m kind of a sucker for a catchy Broadway tune. And I count among my favorite shows Rent, which also happens to be the first show I ever went to.
I am actually quite fond of the entire soundtrack, but I list this song because, as I am wont to do when in the privacy of my own home or car, I will try to sing both parts as if I were on stage. Predictably, it goes much better when Roger is singing as opposed to Mimi.
Guilty Pleasure #10: “The Warrior” by Scandal
Anyone who owned the NBA Superstars VHS tapes back in the day knows exactly where my love affair with this song started.
Of course the Larry Bird video, which featured my personal theme song “Small Town”, was my favorite, but Charles Barkley’s was a close second, because he and this song are badass and don’t care if you love or hate them. So fine. Neither do I.
Guilty Pleasure #11: “California Love” by 2Pac
Don’t be alarmed, but I’m white.
It’s true. Ask @BlkSportsOnline. He’ll confirm it.
But I swear you wouldn’t know it by how I “rock the mic” and “spit rhymes” went this jam comes on…this jam for which I’ve known every single lyric for what feels like a time span of now to back when ladies first started wearing Vidal Sassoon.
Okay fine, I’m kidding. While I do know all of the lyrics, I can’t really “rock a mic” despite my best efforts.
However, you can’t say that my Bloomington upbringing doesn’t add a certain sense of gravitas when I rap along through the shoutouts that range from Oakland to Sactown, then from the Bay Area and back down, including Englewood (which this song teaches us is always up to no good).
Screw it. I take it back. I don’t feel guilty when this song comes on. I went to West Lafayette High School baby…WEST SIDE! // throws up requisite hand signal with ring finger crossed over middle finger.
Guilty Pleasure #12: “Rockin’ the Suburbs” by Ben Folds
In stark contrast to the previous song, which I totally relate to, I really have nothing in common with Ben Folds here. “Male, middle class, and white”? Pppshh. Since when?
Curiously I love the song anyway, despite it’s overt (intentionally, I think) cheesiness. It’s probably the Michael Jackson reference and the invitation to curse loudly and with zeal at the end.
Guilty Pleasure #13: “Say Goodbye” by Dave Matthews Band
It’s occurring to me as I type this that you can pretty much (caution: I’m about to over-generalize here) demarcate the life of a person of my general age and background’s into two sections: the carefree, simple time when liking Dave unabashedly was the cool and hip thing to do; or the time after that when the real world hit and suddenly “#41” became just a song without a name that you were forced to listen to in the shadows of your responsibility-filled life.
Anyway, here is my favorite of those old Dave classics, which I happen to think is Dave’s storytelling at its best (since this song actually, you know, makes some sense and tells a story).
Guilty Pleasure #14: “Geek In The Pink” by Jason Mraz
I pretty much like everything by Jason Mraz and have since I picked up his first CD back in my sophomore year of college. And after seeing him in concert – at which his remarkable voice was on jaw-dropping display – I’m even more enthralled by his overall ability as a musician.
The title alone makes this song somewhat embarrassing, as do a few of the lyrics, but as usual Mraz is clever enough with his wordplay and skilled enough with his flow and backed by the right beat to make it all work. At least for me anyway.
Guilty Pleasure #15: “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey
I’ll admit that my affection for this song went into overdrive based on it being the unofficial official song of the White Sox run to the ’05 World Series title, but I’ve always liked it. A lot. And even now, six years after that White Sox championship, it’s one of my favorite songs, even if other people think it’s overplayed, lame, cheesy, or any number of other derogatory things.
I mean come on, it’s Steve Perry. He’s more than just a psyche out. He’s a legend, thanks in large part to the sublime 4:00+ minutes of music delivered by this track.
Guilty Pleasure #16: “In For The Kill” by La Roux
This is another great example of a song that I try to sing along to when alone, and I can only image how hilarious it would be if someone was cruel enough to film me with a hidden video. (Don’t get any ideas.)
The lyrics to La Roux’s songs don’t really do anything for me, but damn if they doesn’t come up with some intoxicating beats. (Other examples here and here.) I’m learning that I am something of a sucker for good synth-pop. This is about as good as it gets.
Guilty Pleasure #17: “Better Life” by Keith Urban
I actually find the lyrics of this song to be just about the most meaningful “simple” lyrics of any song I own. They’re awesome. Who can’t get behind a song that’s all about finding the one you love and settling into a great life with them through thick, thin, or otherwise? Isn’t that what most of us are ultimately seeking anyway?
Add in a catchy hook, an uplifting beat, and Urban’s palpable energy, and it creates a pretty dadgum good song in my book (whether I’m proud to admit it or not, though I guess I am…since I’m admitting it).
Guilty Pleasure #18: “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley
I have little commentary to add here except to say that I’m not kidding and that I blame my mom, who cursed me to a life of not hating Rick Astley by listening to his music – without irony – back before it became a cultural punchline and when my ears were still impressionable.
Well, impression made.
Yes, I actually kind of, sort of, almost, maybe, perhaps, a little bit...like this song.
And I’m not about to give that up, or any of the songs on this list, just because it’s a little embarrassing to admit.
So there are my favorite guilty musical pleasures…all 18 of them…presented with my rationalizations for you to ridicule, mock, and secretly enjoy.
The question now, once again, is what are your favorite guilty musical pleasures? I and every other reader that comes to this post anxiously awaits your revelation in the comment section. Don’t cop out! We all have guilty musical pleasures. Share yours.
Before I leave this post with you, I want to get the rest of the MSF crew involved by sharing some of their guilty musical pleasures, which they posted in our Facebook group after I let them know about my idea for this post. Here is what they came up with:
Amanda Lawson’s Guilty Pleasure: “All By Myself” by Celine Dion
Because of this admission, Amanda will now have to drive and sit all by herself when we have our MSF writers retreat sometime in the next decade. But we appreciate the admission regardless.
Tyler Juranovich’s Guilty Pleasure: “Lava Monster” by Conor Oberst
Definitely the most shocking admission was Tyler’s totally out-of-nowhere recommendation of Conor Oberst. I didn’t even know he listened to Conor Oberst, but I guess you learn something new every day.
Drew Lange’s Guilty Pleasure: “Only Wanna Be With You” by Hootie and the Blowfish
Darius Rucker would surely appreciate this submission, but he definitely would not appreciate Drew’s propensity to refer to him as “Hootie”.
I’m glad Drew suggested this one, so that when someone wonders aloud indignantly why a post like this is on a sports blog, we can point them to this video…and totally redeem ourselves! Except that Atlantic Records won’t let this video be embedded, which sucks. So you’ll have to click here to remember why this song has sports relevancy (Or just watch a Miami Dolphins game, because now Hootie is far from the only one crying.)
Chris Callaway’s Guilty Pleasure: “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie
As easy as it would be, I can’t really make any snarky comments on this one (not that I should be anyway, since this is supposed to be a “safe place”) because, yes, I too went through a short phase when I secretly liked this song.
I can say that I never felt as silly singing a song out loud as with this one, which is what ultimately soured me on it…but I may just be a biggirlsdontcryaholic because now that I’m hearing it for the first time in years I’m having to fight the urge to start singing…
…And I’m gonna miss you like a child misses their blanket, but I’ve got to get a move on with my life…it’s time to be a big girl now…AND BIG GIRLS DON’T CR–
Oh, hey! You’re still here. Oops. I wasn’t singing just then. I swear. I wasn’t. I was just…
Moving on now…
Josh Tinley’s Guilty Pleasure: “Rock Me Gently” by Andy Kim
It should be noted that Josh’s first choice was “Easy Lover”, which makes him cooler than a polar bear’s toenails. His second choice is pretty spectacular too.
Andy Bottoms’ Guilty Pleasure: “Love On The Rocks” by Neil Diamond
For anyone who has a problem with this selection, just know that Andy Bottoms will smack you in the mouth (he’s Neil Diamond!).
I can’t really be too hard on Andy for this one either. I almost listed Sweet Caroline among by favorite guilty pleasures above, except that it cannot really be considered a “guilty” pleasure when I’ve done it at karaoke nights four or five times.
Robert Crowe’s Guilty Pleasure: “Party All The Time” by Eddie Murphy
Robert Crowe is now my favorite MSF writer for suggesting this song, which I had totally forgotten about. Eddie Murphy at his…well, certainly not his best…but perhaps his most unintentionally hilarious.
Keith Mullett’s Guilty Pleasure: “Everything” by Fefe Dobson
Fittingly, we end with Keith Mullett, whose Facebook post got the whole ball rolling for this post…which very well may signal MSF’s shark jump moment if we’re not careful and don’t churn out some good sports content soon to compensate for admitting all of this publicly.
You’ll especially appreciate this selection by Keith when you know that a) he chose this song from among 35,000 on his iTunes, and b) he describes himself as a “metal Rainman”. Your secret’s safe with us Keith.
All right reader…you’re up.
What is your favorite guilty musical pleasure?
Break the shackles of timidity and escape the throes of embarrassment so you can feel the cool breeze of unabashed musical honesty. That’s why we’re here. It’s okay. Remember: you’re among friends. Hit us with your best shot.