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Guilty Pleasures

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I have a confession to make. The other morning, while munching on a bowl of hemp granola and slurping my first cuppa, I watched a Justin Timberlake video…and I really liked the song (Senorita). Not the vocals so much ’cause let’s face it, Timberlake is doing Michael Jackson better than the GlovedOne himself can probably manage these days. No, it was the keyboard riff. Simple, yet funky & slinky. I started wobbling back & forth at the breakfast table, and started scheming to sneak a copy of Justified into the house (or maybe just the cd single, if I can find it).

But even as I imagine listening to “Senorita” again on some future drive to work or something, I can’t shake the feeling that I just shouldn’t be liking this stuff!

A new guilty pleasure is born.

Everybody’s got ’em, so why not just let ’em fly? So here are a few more of mine. The listing is mostly chronological beginning with high school (where peer pressure started the ‘closet listening’ phenomenon) and going through, well…last week.

Knock On Wood – Amii Stewart

Yea, that disco-fried version from back in the leisure suite day. Right there in the middle of my ‘disco sucks!’ years I would sneak over to our local dance radio station in hopes of catching a listen to this gem. Who know what attracted me? The sound was classic disco, practically dripping with dance floor reverb. I bet it was just the pure ‘danger’ of listening to ‘forbidden’ music. Man, I woulda been laughed right out of my disco-hatin’ circle of friends.

Hello – Lionel Richie

Ok, the chick in the video was hot…but that wasn’t it. It was the guitar solo. A soulful, slightly jazzy thing that was just perfect for the song. For some reason I remember listening to “Hello” backed with The Thompson Twins’ “Hold Me Now” as I sat in the daily 20-mile traffic jam heading back into southern New Hampshire.

State Of Shock – Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger

Mick has always been pretty capable of producing awful things in his non-Stones career. This song rates right up (or down) there. I like it anyway. Hmmm…now that I think about it, this just might be the very last 45rpm disc I ever bought.

Crazy For You – Modonna

Geezuz, not only was it a ballad, it was a ballad by Madonna! Even worse, it was a ballad by Madonna from a cheesy 80’s movie. Oh well, it was nice. A sappy love song. Certainly not the last one that would get to me…and to this day it reminds me of a time when I had absolutely no idea of what I wanted to do with my life – but was having a blast tryin’ to figure it all out.

Adult Education – Hall & Oates

Really, the entire Hall & Oates catalog was a guilty pleasure. Guys who like Black Sabbath were not supposed to like things like “Rich Girl”…but I did. “Adult Education” was tacked onto the end of the Rock & Soul collection as one of two new tracks. I first heard it though, on a live radio broadcast. Kinda hard to imagine these guys rocking out, but they did. (Bonus points if you can remember G.E. Smith and T-Bone Wolk in the “Maneater” video)

Karma Chameleon – Culture Club

Never had much use for Culture Club back in their heydey…but they were all over the place: print, radio, TV. So, a couple of years ago, I caught the VH1-Storytellers thing and enjoyed it from beginning to end. Weird. Anyway, both “Karma Chameleon” and “Church Of The Poisoned Mind” were loads of fun.

Get The Party Started – Pink

I really should not watch videos while I’m eating breakfast. Maybe I’m too mentally vulnerable at that hour. Pink was kinda cute there, acting all dorky & whatnot. The song’s a blast and makes me remember the anticipation of Friday night debauchery.

Work It – Missy Elliott

No video here (though I have seen it). The tune is pure pop madness. Backward vocal tricks, skittery rhythms, silly (and sexy) lyrics, and a perfectly-placed elephant sample.

Honorable Mentions:

    Still The One – Shania Twain
    Genie In A Bottle – Christina Aguillera
    Come On Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
    Waterloo – Abba
    Afternoon Delight – Starland Vocal Band

(First posted on Mark Is Cranky)

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About Mark Saleski

  • The Theory

    I’m fond of Missy Elliott’s entire cd, Under Construction. She knows how to craft a fine song.

  • Eric Olsen

    Damn Mark, I see nothong to feel guilty about re any of those, some of the best pop songs of the last 20 years.

    I love several Madonna ballads, but yours in the best.

    “Justified” is a B-grade Michael Jackson album, nothing wrong with that.

    “Knock On Wood” is a disco classic.

    I’m not that big a fan of Mick and Mike’s “State of Shock” but I like Mike and Dave’s “Dancing In the Streets,” especially the remix, just fine.

    I like almost every Lionel Richie hit: his voice is very fine and mellow, his melodies are clean and memorable, some of the production is too much, but there are lots of nice elements too. The dude got a raw deal and I hope his comeback succeeds. So what if he looks like Dennis Johnson.

    And so on with the rest of the list – not a fart in the remaining bunch, although I would have to draw the line at “Afternoon Delight” – but that’s just me.

    Let your pop flag fly, Mark!

  • Oooh, guilty pleasures… Hall & Oates definitely count as one of mine (m-e-t-h-o-d-o-f-l-o-v-e… great tune); saw them live back in ’79 and they indeed rocked the house. Also check out the latest Simply Red single, “Sunrise,” which shamelessly and cleverly reworks H&O’s “I Can’t Go for That.” Almost as good as Hershey’s Kisses.

    I also have to admit to a guilty fondness for Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body” and “Cry Me a River.” Don’t let that get around, though, because I feel really guilty about that.

    Same with the new treatment of Elvis Presley’s “Rubberneckin’.” As I’ve said many times before, he is in no way royalty to me, but I LOVE that remix and his voice on it. Mea maxima culpa…

    Missy Elliot, however, I love openly and abashedly.


    I own and enjoy at least 1/3 of the last Nickelback album. I love singing along to “Man, I feel Like a Woman!” (and the rest of Shania’s hits-I especially love all the exclamation points in her song titles!!!!). Pink’s “Mizzundastood”-pretty much dig the whole thing, as well as Xtina’s latest. Past affronts: Debbie Gibson’s first album, “I want it that way” by the Backstreet Boys, that one Spice Girls song that was popular, and I believe I mentioned somewhere else I like Milli Vanilli. Oh, and Mark, I loved “Hello”-another one of those memory evokers! And I will buy the Melissa Lefton CD if it is ever released. And oh yeah ZZ Top’s greatest hits. But I guess I’m not really ashamed of anything I like. It’s like, what I like, for now. And then maybe again someday.

  • Guilty pleasures for me has to be the Italian band Rhapsody. They play ridiculously overblown operatic pomp metal accompanied by orchestras and choirs, with ludicrous Dungeons and Dragons lyrics. They have songong titles like “The Ancient Forest of Elves”, and record concept albums with plotlines that David Eddings fans would think are corny. But somehow they’re just fun.

    Their music is enough to make my brother run screaming from the room.

  • Eric Olsen

    Exactly right Brickster: you like what you like and you may try to understand it or explain it, but there is no need to feel guilty or ashamed of it. I believe Mark’s use of the term here is to connote a different set of criteria than for “serious” music, or whatever term fits better in place of “serious,” and that is right also: we do use different criteria for different kinds of aesthetic experiences.

  • I can agree with the Hall & Oates (of course)…the rest? I can’t go for that. No can do.

    Jagger sounds like he’s making fun of “State Of Shock.” Imagining that he’s trying to subvert MJ on his own song is the only entertainment I can get out of that tune.