I like Claire’s definition of a guilty pleasure (with the exception of ABBA. Fuck ABBA.). But, since I’m kind of a hipster (kind of. I don’t own any white belts, I don’t do a lot of coke, and I don’t treat my girlfriends like shit in public), I feel the need to rationalize all of my guilty pleasures with backstories or ridiculous justifications. So, my entries will be set up with two sections: Why the song is terrible and Why I like it anyway. Plus, I tend to have guilt about being guilty about liking these songs, so I’ll try to explain my meta-guilt for each.
“Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon
Why this song is terrible: Really, really bland guitar line – two chords and three notes over it. The lyrics are sparse and at times idiotic. The hook is kinda catchy, but it grates on you after many listens. It’s pop-rock crap.
Why I like it anyway: I dated this girl a few years back who, like lots of girls I know, has this closet of really shitty pop songs they love for no other reason that they love them. This was one of them. She used to justify it by saying, “Oh, it just sounds so 80’s!” (Is that really a selling point?) Anyway, when we broke up, I was going through my iPod to see what songs I needed to listen to in an effort to get over her (“You Oughta Know” was prominent among them) and somehow I landed on a song she loved and I hated. I listened to it incessantly, and now I’m stuck with it. It’s like there’s a piece of me that never left her side, and it makes me angry every time it comes up on shuffle, but damned if I don’t listen to it every time it does.
“Stronger” by Kanye West
Why this song is terrible: God, where to start? This song is terribly offensive. It is a typical rap song about trying to mack on a lady, but his argument here isn’t that they’d be good together or even that he’s super attracted to her; rather, he makes the case that she should go home with him because he’s been hounding her all evening and it’s time to just give it up. And the line “I’d do anything for a blond dyke” is particularly heinous.
And Daft Punk sucks. There, I said it. We all know it. Why do we venerate them? They’re horribly boring!
Why I like it anyway: Wow, this is hard to justify. But it’s the oddest thing. I love to play DJ at parties. Sitting at a computer or my turntable, dropping the needle or mouse on the right track at the right time is a feeling only rivaled by starting to play a song on stage everyone recognizes and starts singing along. And this song is one of the best floor-fillers ever. Every single time I put it on, everyone shouts “OOOOOOHHHH!” and jumps to the dance floor to shake their money makers. I respect that. It doesn’t excuse, however, why I listen to it at work.
“Stay (Wasting Time)” by Dave Matthews Band
Why this song is terrible: Dave Matthews’ voice is just awful. He tries to write this great picture of lazy lovers playing in the heat in the summertime and it just comes off so shallow and insipid. And really, Mr. Matthews? Parentheses in the title? This is not complicated enough to warrant parentheses. Jackass.
Why I like it anyway: This song represents a time in my life where I had this unbridled sense of romantic optimism. I was a hopeless romantic, and songs like this only fueled the fire. I wanted to have that kind of easy love, where you can just sit together, legs lolling lazily in a fishing hole, eating watermelon and rolling around in the tall grass. And the backup gospel-style vocals are amazing, as is the sax part. It’s so light, airy, and effortlessly beautiful, like the love I wanted.
I don’t believe in that kind of love anymore. But every time I hear this song, I remember how much I wanted it, and how I’m sure it’s possible, even if I’ve convinced myself it’s not. And then the song ends and I’m left empty and hollow, stuck with the realization that fun, lazy love is just not going to happen to me. But even knowing that realization comes every time I put it on, I put it on anyway.
“Seven Bridges Road” by The Eagles (live)
Why this song is terrible: It’s the fucking Eagles.
Why I like it anyway: I’m a terrible sucker for four-part harmonies. And these are done exceptionally well, and recorded live at that. And the guitar part is just down-home fun. The lyrics are dumb as shit, though.
“Remember the Time” by Michael Jackson
Why this song is terrible: It’s white Michael Jackson singing over 90’s style beats. Need I say more?
Why I like it anyway: Ah…shit. I have no justification for this. It’s just bad, and I like it anyway. There goes any and all hipster cred. But, bonus, you do get to watch the hilarious video for this song, featuring Eddie Murphy and Magic Johnson.