Guilty pleasures. You see, I'm not always all about being the earnest, snob-driven, gold-standard-in-music consumer. I have guilty pleasures just like anyone else. Guilty pleasure songs and guilty pleasure bands.
So today, I honor the most embarassing music I listen to. And, to make a point, some of the music on the list might be technically or even legitimatelly good, but it's still embarassing that I listen to it. And remember, the operative word in the phrase "guilty pleasure" is "guilty." It's not a guilty pleasure if you don't sweat a little when you tell people you dig it.
So, first, my guilty pleasure songs in no particular order:
1. Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like a Bird" and "Turn Out the Lights" -- Sure they're great dance/pop songs, but Rob Rogers does not listen to dance/pop. At least he doesn't if anyone comes asking.
2. Neil Diamond's "Love on the Rocks" -- I blame this on my sisters. We grew up watching Neil Diamond's movie "The Jazz Singer" a lot. The song plays over the climactic break-up scene where Neil's life comes unraveled as he tries to deal with his new-found fame. Very emotional. And yes I loved it, alright? I loved it! I also blame this movie on H.L.'s open and unabashed affection for the Diamond. We should all be ashamed.
3. In the same vein, Barry Manilow's "Ready to Take a Chance Again" -- This song opened the Chevy Chase/Goldie Hawn vehicle "Foul Play," another movie we wathced over and over as kids. I learned to really dig the song. Sue me.
4. Jennifer Lopez's "Waiting for Tonight" -- I'm really going out on a limb here, because I don't know how this could get anymore embarassing. But this song is total eurotrash dance club and I really dig it. Maybe it's because it reminds me of the dance music I heard while living in Mexico (where every song, including the Police's "Message in a Bottle," gets a dance remix) or maybe it's because I just dig the tune, but I secretly really, really enjoy this song.
5. Garth Brooks' "The Thunder Rolls" -- I have no excuse for this one. But when I was a 14- or 15-year-old idiot kid the song gave me chills the first time I heard it. And I still secretly like it.
And that's probably enough for now. So on to my guilty pleasure bands and/or artists. The songs above are individual anomolies. I hate the artists but love the music. Following are the artists I love that I probably shouldn't. Again, in no particular order:
1. Billy Joel -- I know, for some this amounts to heresy listing Billy as a guilty pleasure. But let's be honest with ourselves: he is. While he's a great singer, songwriter and pianist, he's still the guy who wrote and performed songs like "Uptown Girl" and "She's Always a Woman." I love almost all of his stuff, but try to listen to "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" loud and proud outside of your house. You can't do it.
2. Emerson Lake & Palmer -- Great progressive rock band, one of the best in fact. But their music leans towards the grandiose and then the operatic and before long you're flirting with self-parody. I bought and listened to "Black Moon," their last, real studio album in 1992 when I was in high school and that's embarassing enough. With songs like "Romeo & Juliet" and "Farewell to Arms" it's about as overwrought and earnest as you're gonna get. But their musical genius mustn't be denied. And so I will continue to listen
3. Huey Lewis and the News -- Again, for some I'm flirting with heresy here, but I would argue that it's hard to take the band that recorded "Hip to Be Square" seriously. But man, no one turns out a pop/rock song like Huey did back in the day. Better than most '80s pap that came out in that decade, Huey Lewis and the News put out an embarassingly good catalog of music. Go back and listen to "Heart and Soul" now. The arrangement, the syncopation of the rhythm and the lusty lyrics are down-right impressive.
4. Queensryche -- Classic late '80s/early '90s hard rock, they were a Seattle rock band before it was cool or even advantageous to be a Seattle rock band. And they're not as bad as say Poison or Ratt -- they were never a hair-metal band -- but they're music still sounds blushingly overproduced and deadly earnest. And c'mon, "Silent Lucidity"? I still can't listen to it without laughing out loud. But when the band got rocking -- "Jet City Woman," "Another Rainy Night" -- they could do no wrong.
5. Speaking '80s hair-metal bands, Def Leppard -- Now, I don't embrace their entire discography, but who are we kidding? The band's drummer only had one arm at the end of their run. How hard core is that? And looking at 80s rock albums, there are few better than "Pyromania" with the classics "Rock of Ages" and "Too Late for Love." They also introduced the world to the phrase, nay, the command: "Let's get rocked!" Oh they're shameful, ain't no two ways about it. But man, they rock. Or at least, they did.
There it is. Fun, but a little painful. Feel free to share your own guilty pleasures in the comments below. I shouldn't be the only one to suffer humiliation.
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