When we like something that falls outside the realm of our normally stringent tastes, it can be exhausting to constantly keep up appearances around our peers.
Maybe you've had that experience when Britney Spears' "Toxic" comes on the radio and you try not to visibly enjoy it. But why not celebrate those songs instead? Stop worrying whether you'll catch an insane amount of shit from your friends and indulge. You hipsters can admit that you like some Brad Paisley. You metalheads can own up the fact that you used to own a few Milli Vanilli records. Know what I'm sayin'?
I'll go first. In the spirit of getting everyone to let their guard down, I'll unveil ten songs that I'm not afraid to admit to absolutely loving regardless of what you might think of me as a result.
10. "All I Want" - Toad The Wet Sprocket (1991)
I really came into my own musically around the same time this song became popular in 1992. I was young, but I started to develop my keen sense of what it is that sounds good to me, and Toad The Wet Sprocket spoke to me in so many ways. It's the catchy chorus, the powerful vocals and the overall lighthearted enjoyability that made this song resonate with me. I can still nail all the vocal inflections whenever this song just so happens to come on the radio.
9. "Satellite" - Guster (2006)
Upon showing this list to a friend, they jokingly remarked that I "forgot to put Guster on there." What's sad is that they were right. That friend knows I loathe the band, but that I unequivocally love their 2006 song "Satellite." Blame it on the catchy piano interlude or on lead singer Adam Gardner's ultra-smooth vocals. Whatever the case may be -- it's the damn piano interlude -- "Satellite" is a song I continue to enjoy to this day, even if it, ahem, kills me. But we'll get to that a little bit later.
8. "Ape Dos Mil" - Glassjaw (2002)
Oh, Glassjaw... Where to begin? I was embarrassingly infatuated with this band back when Worship & Tribute had just come out. Daryl Palumbo's straight edge lifestyle -- combined with his distinct, indelible vocals -- pushed this band absolutely over the top for 18-year old me. For all intents and purposes, Glassjaw was a very, very good band. They just fell victim to the changing music scene, one that wasn't exactly accepting to the slow burn of rap-rock, post-hardcore bands. Now if I could only find that Glassjaw shirt I once wore with pride...
7. "Don't Wanna Fall In Love" - Jane Child (1990)
Now we get into the weird stuff. I have no clue how I first heard this song -- but I couldn't get enough of it once I did. The song is a bit late to the synth party that was the 80s, but there was enough of a hold-over in terms of that sound and the burgeoning 1990s for this song to stick around. I think the video for "Don't Wanna Fall In Love" is what does it for me. How the hell does someone with that bizarre, soft-punk look (the chain is connected to her nose ring!), at that time in the late 80s/early 90s, record such a cheesy song? That's what makes it so fun -- shattering stereotypes for the sake of golden, innocent pop music.
6. "Move In Stereo (Liv Ullman On Drums)" - Do Me Bad Things (2005) I'd be surprised to know of many people that actually knew British blues/rock/soul/metal outfit Do Me Bad Things. I came across the band myself because I thought they had an interesting name. Little did I know what the hell I was really in for. Their debut, and only, album Yes! was a tour de force of heavy metal riffs mixed with soulful vocals, coalescing into a surprisingly smooth, soft-rock sounding effort. It's the vocals on "Move In Stereo" that really push me over the top. It's a dangerously smooth song with an equally as smooth video.
5. "You Get What You Give" - New Radicals (1998)
It's top five time, and I am sure to catch a beating for listing this song. That being said, I'm not afraid to admit that I love this song. Don't like this song? There must be no "music in you." When the song's video had just been released, I remember seeing it four times in one day (back when MTV and even MTV2 actually played music videos). The lyrics are beyond corny and the piano is pretty terrible, but there's more to like than to hate about this song. As well, who didn't love how pop/rock bands looked in 1998? New Radicals' lead singer Gregg Alexander was the poster child for bucket hats and ringer T's. Gregg Alexander, it's safe to say, had the music in him.
4. "If It Kills Me (From The Casa Nova Sessions)" - Jason Mraz (2009)
"Oh for fuck's sake," you're probably thinking, "This list just went to shit." You might be right -- but I have to tip my fedora to Mr. A-Z for belting it out of the park on this one. Notice that I don't much care for the album version of "If It Kills" me, it has to be the stripped-down, acoustic version of the song. I don't know -- this has to be the most embarrassing submission on this list. I had plenty of trepidation putting it on the list, but fuck it -- I like this song. Mraz is still a talented musician -- he's sold a ton of records, right? "Right, keep telling yourself that..."
3. "Buffalo Stance" - Neneh Cherry (1989)
These top three guilty pleasures are all brought to you by the 1980s. That's right, the same decade that provided me with half of the ten songs that make me hate music. "Buffalo Stance" is a pretty solid song, even if the video is confusingly corny. Jiggalos, buffaloes, and slurping beer through straws -- what's not to love about this song? It's kitschy and quirky beyond your wildest imaginations and, as bombastic as it sounds, it's a very sweet song. Also, Neneh Cherry is smokin'. Remember her brother, Eagle-Eye?
2. "Everything She Wants" - Wham! (1984)
I love George Michael. I find him talented. There -- I said it. No song best sums up what it is Michael does best than "Everything She Wants," the fourth single from Wham!'s incredible 1984 masterpiece Make It Big. Yeah -- I called a Wham! album a "masterpiece." That's what you're dealing with, here. We all have that certain album or song that goes against all our music tastes, effectively defying any criticism the album may receive. Make It Big, for all intents and purposes, had three #1 singles, as well as "Freedom," which topped out at #3. I have absolutely no problem admitting to enjoying the works of George Michael. Just look at that video -- George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley were fucking gods back then.
1. "Don't Disturb This Groove" - The System (1987)
Pay attention, are you listening? In what will stand to be techo-funk's finest hour, Mic Murphy and David Frank's collaboration as The System, "Don't Disturb This Groove," is my ultimate guilty pleasure. This song reeks of corniness, complete with hospitality-centric love lyrics: "Hang the sing up on the door / Say 'don't disturb this groove" and "Lock the door and turn the phone off / It's time for me and you." The song is called "Don't Disturb This Groove" -- how much more corny could things get? In spite of all this, the song is fucking amazing and I will never, ever get sick of listening to it. The song remains the white buffalo of karaoke songs that author Brian Raftery and I are still searching for to this day.