MaltesersEverybody has their guilty pleasures, but if you sit down to write a post about them you suddenly find out it’s a hard concept to define. In general I think it’s safe to say that guilty pleasures are the things you like, but don’t tell everybody about because you kind of know you “shouldn’t”.I indulge in my fair share of guilty pleasures. Whether it’s sleeping past noon on weekends, eating an entire bag of Maltesers in one session, idly watching endless amounts of reality TV drivel (The Apprentice, Project Runway, The Real World, America’s Next Top Model), estrogen-targeting formula series (Grey’s Anatomy, The Gilmore Girls, Dawson’s Creek) and of course: Oprah Winfrey (particularly those insane ‘Favourite Things’ shows).

With music it’s no different. I guess guilty pleasures are those songs you love in spite of yourself. A bit like being halfway through the bag of Maltesers with your hand already in for the next one: you know you really shouldn’t, but you just can’t help yourself. Guilty pleasures in music include the tacky, the trashy, the cheesy and the decidedly lowbrow (when of course one usually enjoys the finer highbrow things in life).

But what exactly is the cut off point for ‘guilty’? Here we venture into the dangerous discussion of what is to be considered cool or not, as it implies that you should feel guilty for liking the ‘uncool’. Who decides what’s cool anyway? Pitchfork? NME? Sod them! If something rings your bells, well for god sake turn it up and don’t be ashamed! I’m all for it (as my list will illustrate later on).

But I absolutely disagree with people who choose the other side of the scale, which is to state there is no such thing as a good or bad song, only everyone’s individual opinion. Well I’m sorry, but that just won’t do. I think we can safely say that Jeff Buckley delivers a song with more skill and gutwrenching intensity than Michael Bolton can even dream of, that Fiona Apple’s innovative songs are several dimensions removed from anything that ever came out of Anastacia’s mouth, and that a Back Street Boys ‘composition’ hangs its head in shame when compared to anything by The Beach Boys.

Or as an anonymous poster on a forum topic about guilty pleasures I was reading eloquently puts it: “[…] They are often formulaic, cliché-ridden and lyrically and musically conservative. The uncool songs often use the most basic means to convey emotion (the Westlife key-change) instead of employing some real artistic creativity to make something new and interesting (the Beatles key-change). Others on the list are actually guilty of self-indulgence and overdoing it. This invention for the sake of it, is just as unoriginal and uninspiring as the textbook pop stars. […] I also disagree that there are no good and bad songs. Good Vibrations is a good song. Mr Blobby is a bad song. We can disagree about the precise order of everything in between but it’s not all objective.”

Well, after that dissertation I present you my list of guilty pleasures. Some are guilty because of their cringeworthy cheese level (case in point: Barry Manilow), some have just been played to death (UB40, Des’ree), some are by artists of questionable talent (Mr. Big) or by artists who walk the line of commercial queasiness (Bryan Adams, Simply Red), or by artists who have later sold out every morsel of artistic integrity they once had (Sting, Elton John) and some are just poptrash delights (Wham!), but I love them all dearly! Click the names for the songs in their full youtube clip glory.

Barry Mannilow – Mandy
Dolly Parton – Jolene (watch this video! Dolly rocks)
John Denver – Annie’s Song
Elton John – Rocket Man
Carpenters – Close To You
Janis Ian – At Seventeen
Billy Joel – Pianoman
10cc – I’m Not In Love
Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now
Supertramp – The Logical Song

Simply Red – New Flame
Wham! -I’m Your Man
UB40 – Red Wine
Paul Young – Come Back And Stay
Split Enz – Message to my Girl
A-ha – Take On Me

Nineties & later:
Sting – Mad About You
Mr. Big – Wild World
Des’ree – You Gotta Be
Wheatus – Teenage Dirtbag
Bryan Adams -Back to You
Sixpence None The Richer – Kiss Me
Kylie – It’s In Your Eyes
Britney Spears – Toxic

Oh and any Christmas song …

Well if there was ever a post to pour your heart out to: let me know your guilty pleasures!! Or heckle my choices by declaring certain songs on the list innocent, I’m up for a debate 😀