Top 5 Guilty Pleasure Songs (By Joshua)

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.

Top 5 Bad Songs by Good Artists (claire & joshua)

Claire’s List:

Good artist: Liz Phair

Bad song: Why Can’t I?

In 2004, Liz Phair decided to replace her beloved bad girl indie image with a toothy, crooning, Top 40 makeover. In the grand scheme of this “I was created for the opening credits of a Kate Hudson movie” genre of pop, Why Can’t I is not a horrible song. But from the woman who wrote Exile from Guyville, from the voice that sang Polyester Bride and Shitloads of Money on repeat in my bedroom during a two year long middle-school whitechocolatespaceegg bender? It’s a disappointment on par with the weird “I Love the 90s” appearances she made where she listed each year’s top Fuck and Run guys. Ick. 


Good artist: Loudon Wainwright III

Bad song: I Wish I Was A Lesbian

Loudon Wainwright is funny. He has the goofy grin and the jerky movements, he has the blinking twitchy schstick, he was Katherine Heigl’s kooky gynecologist (Knocked Up), mentored every comedian you’ve liked over the past eight years (Undeclared), hell, the man was on MASH (…MASH). I like his funny songs. The one where they all do acid? Priceless. He Says She Says? A personal, parallelogram filled favorite. I Wish I Was A Lesbian? An overplayed, over twangy, not even particularly funny bit of AM DJ trash. 

Good artist: Richard Thompson

Bad Song: Cold Kisses

I like creepy, haunting Richard Thompson. But this is just creepy. Richard Thompson, I want you to misunderstand and talk about Bathsheba and plead for what’s already yours! Not play a gross guy game of underwear rifling and dick-comparing.  


Good artist: Elvis Costello

Bad song: Cover of “What the World Needs Now” with Burt Bacharach

Lounge Lizard madness, from one of the world’s greatest singer/songwriters. I’m sure this made a lovely first dance song for all the weddings no one wanted to go to that year (“Did they just do a rap version of Corinthians? Why are the bridesmaids wearing sailor hats? DAMNIT, IS THAT ELVIS COSTELLO AND BURT F**KING BACHARACH?!”)

Good artist: Bob Dylan

Bad song: Man Gave Names to All the Animals

After albums like Blonde on Blonde, and Blood on the Tracks, Dylan mixed it up by becoming a born again Christian and releasing the early folk version of Veggie Tales. This is really all I have to say:

He saw an animal up on a hill

Chewing up so much grass until she was filled

He saw milk coming out but he didn’t know how

“Ah, think I’ll call it a cow”.”

Joshua’s List

Good artist: Eric Clapton

Bad song: I Shot the Sheriff

Why do white people have such an obsession with covering reggae music? It never seems to work. And this time it fails miserably. The song isn’t that great to begin with and this is like the bubblegum-made-with-Splenda version….Yeah.

Good artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers

Bad song: Deep Kick

The whole album this is on, One Hot Minute, is awful. And this song is heinous. It’s like John Prine meets Donovan meets Flea waking up from a bad booze, speed, and heroin hangover. This band was based on speed rock funk. Anything under 80 bpm just seems weird and this is truly bizarre. I just want to ask everyone involved what they were thinking, all the way down to the mixing board tech. Awful. 

Good artist: Led Zeppelin

Bad song: Carouselambra

As good as the two previous albums (House of the Holy and Physical Graffiti) are, that’s how bad this song and the album it’s on is (and the grammar of this sentence). If that made no sense, that’s fine, because that’s exactly how I feel about this song. Why is there like 20 minutes of synth playing? Why does it alternate between fast and slow parts? What the hell were they smoking that made them write and record this song? Baffling.

Good artist: Michael Jackson

Bad song: You Are Not Alone

The song is bad. It’s Michael Jackson meets Michael Bolton. And the video just makes it even worse. A newly white and disfigured Michael sings to a very pale and odd looking Lisa Marie Presley. And they’re both naked! What. The. F**K. 

Good artists: Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney

Bad song: Ebony and Ivory

I saved the worst for last. Stevie and Paul both have some of the greatest music ever recorded, but this gets close to the worst song ever recorded. It’s not “Friday” or “Party All The Time” bad, but it’s right under it. It’s patronizing to both the artists and the fans. And simply putrid to listen to. I don’t know even know how to talk about this song without the bile rising in the back of the throat. That sounds like hyperbole, but I just spit up a little listening to the refrain. I mean, does anyone like this song? Anyone out there in blagosphere even remotely like this song? I’m willing to bet serious money that no one has ever liked this song, including Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.

Honorable Mentions:

  • BB King and Heavy D – Keep It Coming: Another entry in the Worst Duets contest.
  • Cake – Dime: It’s no secret that I love Cake. I routinely blast them when I’m driving. But this song is bad. The worst part is the refrain, where John McCrea lands the word “shine” for nearly 3 measures.
  • Rage Against the Machine – Anything off the album Renegades: It’s no small wonder that they broke up after this album. The only passable song is the cover of “Maggie’s Farm,” but that’s only because it’s such a good song to begin with. The worst part is that the song selection is fantastic, it’s just the execution that is terrible.

Top 5 Covers: The Leftover List (claire and joshua)

this week, we talked covers. five wasn’t enough; hell, neither was eight. so for all you fellow musical gluttons out there, here are our leftover lists, for your Friday listening pleasure. enjoy.

Joshua’s List

Song: Personal Jesus

Covered by: Johnny Cash

Originally by: Depeche Mode

Song: Sunshine (Go Away Today)

Covered by: The Isley Brothers

Originally by: Jonathan Edwards

Song: Smooth Criminal

Covered by: Alien Ant Farm

Originally by: Michael Jackson

Claire’s List

Song: That’s it, I quit, I’m movin’ on
Covered by: Adele
Originally by: Sam Cooke

Song: Men’s Needs

Covered by: Kate Nash
Originally by: The Cribs

Song: New Paint

Covered by: Elvis Costello

Originally by: Loudon Wainwright III