Saturday, April 23, 2011

Guilty pleasures

Dr. Becca's recent post gave me the idea for a possibly-not-so-original blog meme.  Allow me to quote her:
At home and in my iPod, my music collection was eclectic but refined; but in my car, alone, I could revel in 80s nostalgia, in cheesy classic rock, and in current, inexplicably catchy bubblegum pop with no risk of incriminating evidence.
Tell us, O readers of this blog, upon your own blogs and in yonder comment section: what are your guilty pleasures in music?  What do you listen to only when you're alone and no one will hear what's on your stereo?  What do you keep in that playlist that never gets played when your friends are around to snoop in your iPod?  No cheating, now: don't give us Frank Zappa or Kate Bush and say, "Well, they've written better." 

My own guilty pleasures playlist is twenty-seven songs long, so I'll just admit to five of them for the sake of starting the ball rolling.  Oof, I burn with shame just trying to make myself link to the songs.
  1. "Tell Her This," Del Amitri.  I have no excuses for this one except I kind of like the singer's voice and I have a weird fascination with songs written from the perspective of an unsympathetic loser.
  2. "My Oh My," David Gray.  Again, I like the voice, and the gently rolling melody.  If I pay too much attention to the lyrics, though, I want to slap someone.  Preferably David Gray.  I do not know why I keep a song in my personal library that seems to calm me down, and yet angers me if I listen to it closely.
  3. "I Need Love," Luka Bloom.  I'm pretty sure that this entered my collection as an ironic joke that shed its irony little by little.  I still chuckle at the Irish vowels dropped into an LL Cool J ballad, but somehow the recording won me over, especially the arrangement on the album recording.  I fear to let others know I listen to it, though.
  4. "Blue," Eiffel 65.  I know, someday I'll be condemned to hell, where Theodor Adorno, on a daily basis, will force me to listen to this song on repeat until I crack a smile at it, at which point he will use a flamethrower to flay my skin as he lectures me in German about the fascism of standard time.
  5. "Buttons," the Pussycat Dolls.  I think I would sooner stand up in front of a large audience and tell them (untruthfully) that I used to be addicted to crack cocaine than tell them (truthfully) that I listen to this song when no one else is around. 
Aaaargh, aaaargh!  The self-loathing, it burns! 


  1. OMG, I listen to "Blue" at least once a week. Still love it. ;)

  2. Ok I didn't recognize any of these songs (do I win a prize?) ... I was going to click over and say that I loved the description of Adorno hell until I actually went and listened ---- you will burn, sir, burn!!!!!

    Luka Bloom is the "get up on your bike" guy! Other than that, I know nothing.

    And I don't know if I have a guilty pleasures playlist ... unless it's for 80s hair metal, which I unabashedly listened to back in the day. Don't have any in my itunes, though. Ahh, sigh ... for the days of cassettes and mix tapes!

  3. I'm not embarrassed about anything I listen to, but I think this is because as a teenager who's favorite bands were bluegrass and folk, who's radio choice was country, and who missed out on all pop music until college I am immune to mockery of my musical choices :-) I do remember dancing to that Blue song though at college parties and liking it.

  4. I am shocked!--shocked! I say--to see this list, NOT A SINGLE SONG OF WHICH QUALIFIES as a guilty pleasure. They're just pleasures, perfectly good songs all. I'm a total sucker for Justin Currie's clever songsmanship, and Luka Bloom totally transformed that LLCJ song for me (I liked it already, I like it still, in both versions). And David Gray--you know, he gets shit because he got all famous and became a sort of Lifestyle Music, like he'd accompany a Pottery Barn catalogue house, but he's a good damn songwriter, and I'll stand by that. I saw him on tour for his second album, supporting Shawn Colvin, and he made her look like she was phoning it in, he with his loud acoustic guitar and his bobbling head. I reject the guilt here, Dr. K! Go forth and listen to each one of these songs without a shred of shame. It's not like its Journey. Or Whitesnake. Which may or may not be private car listens for someone I won't identify here.

  5. @RG: I'm holding to my qualification of David Gray, because he's not a good songwriter. He's not bad at composing music, but his lyrics are crap. The more I focus on the music, the more talented he seems. The more I focus on the lyrics, the more he seems like what you describe: a hack who became a commodified lifestyle accessory.

    Not that this makes him special; lots and lots of really good singers have recorded beautiful music with stupid lyrics. I was at a bar a few days ago that exposed me to far too many Frank Sinatra recordings in which Ol' Blue Eyes relied heavily on the word "cuckoo" as a gratuitous and semantically meaningless adjective. That shit's like nails down a blackboard for me. The fact that I know this, and continue to listen to David Gray anyway, is the source of my shame.

    And, for the record, I can't reject guilt. Either I feel it or I don't. This may be a difference between those who celebrate Easter and those who celebrate Passover. For the latter, like me, there is no absolution. There's just eternal guilt and continual working through of that guilt. For we were once slaves in Egypt, toiling for Pharaoh, and who do you think you are, sitting comfortably and eating casserole and listening to lifestyle music with lyrics that don't really make sense and crypto-fascist rhythm structures that subjugate you to mass media??

    I'm on the verge of losing my train of thought. The point is that I can't stop feeling guilty about my guilty pleasures. I love them, but I hate myself for it.

    @Sis: Seeing what I just wrote to RG, I'm beginning to wonder if my private hell wouldn't actually involve Adorno playing the piano across a large room from me, saying quietly to me, "I cede my time to your conscience, you scum."

  6. Heh. Fair enough. I concede your point about the lyrics being vapid and a bit nonsensical. But he can do a good hook, and the hook is enough to justify him for me. Indeed, sometimes I only hear the hook. But I hear it without feeling like I have to beat my breast, without wondering why is this song different from all the other songs?

  7. @RG: Props for the Haggadah gag. These things are deeply subjective, aren't they? I listen to plenty of music that other people would classify as guilty pleasures, and I can understand their thinking even as I reject the characterization. Somehow my conscience pricks me more about David Gray than, say, Lady Gaga. And ultimately, I can't explain why. Even my perma-guilt doesn't really make things any clearer.

  8. Um, there are like three Celine Dion songs that love to belt out--Power of Love, I Drove All Night (I know, an abomination--nothing compares to Roy Orbison's original), It's all coming back to me. I had one of her greatest hits CDs. And I never listened to it in front of other people.

    I also still really like disco and ABBA and the BeeGees.

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  10. I would just like to point out that Nola is by the far the bravest commenter on this post so far. Welcome, Nola!