Guilty Pleasures

Female Dj holding vinyl record

Okay, let’s get a few things straight, people! When I’m talking about guilty pleasures, I’m not talking about kinky sex, bisexual sex or smoking. I don’t feel guilty about those pleasures at all!

The truth is that even though I may come across as a person with high artistic standards and excellent taste in music, I am in fact impure. Amidst my collection of John Coltrane, Lou Reed, Robert Johnson, June Tabor and Robert Fripp masterworks are songs that make even the most courageous listener cringe in fear and loathing. Yes, there are some songs that I absolutely adore that qualify as . . . silly, frivolous, empty, uncool and even . . . cute.

Yecch! I hate that fucking word, “cute.” I’m probably the only woman on the planet that doesn’t use that word to describe everything in the world, as in “Those shoes are cute,” or “That guy is cute” or “Chartres Cathedral was cute.” Given the pain and embarrassment attached to the word, it proves to be the best word I could use in this context. Yes, I should suffer for my guilt! These songs are cute! Cute!

I know that admitting these guilty pleasures may lower my cred with snobs, but I’ll bet that many real people out in the ether share the same condition: you have songs you’d be embarrassed to admit you love but truly fill you with delight.

I’ll take a deep breath now. Okay, I’m ready. Here are my guilty pleasures:

1. “I Think I Love You” by The Partridge Family. I wasn’t even born yet when David Cassidy was hot, so my attachment to this song has nothing to do with a teenybopper crush. The song has a very interesting melodic progression and Cassidy sounds so energetic and joyful on the final chorus that I find it irresistible. I often wonder what he would have been like had his parents not been movie stars. He coulda been a contender.

2. “You Made Me Love You” by Al Jolson. My love for this song comes from singing it in a duet for the school pageant in the eighth grade, complete with hand gestures and boo-boo-bee-doos. The pedophiles in the audience went wild.

3. “Western Union” by The Five Americans. A perfectly silly song about a dead technology and a silly chorus of dit-dit-dit-dit-dit . . . but for some reason, I adore it.

4. “High Noon” by Tex Ritter. The guitar is primitive, the accent thick, his glides awful, the bravado silly. Worst of all, it won the Oscar that year. The rhyme, “He made a vow while in state prison/Vowed it would be my life or his’un,” gives me a toothache every time I hear it, but I still love the song.

5. “Daydream Believer” by The Monkees. Ah, Davy Jones, may you rest in peace. The lyrics have no continuity whatsoever, but somehow it twiddles my diddle.

6. “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” by Glenn Miller. Glenn Miller was a jazz lightweight, the song is as racist as fuck, but what I love about it is how it describes the ease of travel in those days when people trusted each other a lot more than they do now. “You leave the Pennsylvania Station ’bout a quarter to four/Read a magazine and then you’re in Baltimore/Nothing could be finer/Than to have your ham ‘n’ eggs in Carolina.” Imagine that!

7. “If I Only Had a Brain” by Jack Haley. Yes, The Tin Man was my fave. I love Jack Haley’s sweet voice, tinged with New York grit.

8. “King of the Road” by Roger Miller. This has one of my favorite belt-it-out lines of all-time, “I ain’t got no cigarettes!” I so feel his pain.

9. “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. This song contains one of the greatest pieces of wisdom known to humankind: “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em/Know when to fold ’em/Know when to walk away/Know when to run.” That’s how I manage my lovers!

10. “Love Letters in the Sand” by Pat Boone. Any song with whistling knocks me on my ass. It’s amazing how Pat Boone turns a bitter, depressing scenario into a stroll on the beach with his white bucks that never get dirty.

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. Dole out the Hail Marys and let me get on with my debauched life.

24 responses

  1. Quality cheese. As someone who loves good one hit wonder cheese I could come up with 100’s to keep you entertained and agitated all at the same time. To wit….

    1. OMG! No song or piece of poetry I know can top “Macarthur Park” when it comes to the art of stretched metaphors. “In love’s hot fevered iron/Like a striped pair of pants” is my favorite but the whole cake-and-icing thing is brilliant in an Ed Wood sort of way. A masterpiece of kitschy originality. I always smile with amazement when I hear this song.

  2. […] Believer”: One of my admitted Guilty Pleasures, I consider this Davy Jones’ best work. I loathe the recording studio chatter at the […]

  3. […] You Hear My Heartbeat”:  One of my Guilty Pleasures, this is another wonderful piece with a teeny-weeny hint of blues roots with the seventh chord on […]

  4. That’s a lot of whiz in your jar of cheese. Pat Boone pretty much seals that baby. If I’m not mistaken, I think Roger Whittaker whistled his way through the entire comtemperary pop catalog. (Just kidding).
    I enjoy my guilty pleasure song list immensely. Finding well done covers of these songs can heighten the pleasure as well. Any one up for a euro-twang version of Carly Simon’s “Your so Vain”?
    I’ll sum up with my latest list addition: “It’s Only Make Believe” by Conway Twitty. I downloaded a cover by Jaydee Bixby from iTunes. (Nice). Here’s a question for you. Is the melodic tone progression in “It’s only Make Believe” the same as Leonard Cohen sings about in His song “Hallelujah”.
    (Spelling is such a struggle).

    1. I love “It’s Only Make Believe!” It’s always difficult to detect melody in any Leonard Cohen song unless another person is singing it, but while the progression threatens to duplicate Mr. Twitty, Cohen’s song doesn’t have that perfect upward trajectory until the resolution.

      I’m reviewing an album of 26 girl one-hit wonders next week, and I’m sure we’ll find guilty pleasures in this group. There are certain songs on that album that go beyond guilty pleasure and cross the line into criminal insanity. Songs not even a mother could love.

      1. 26 one hit wonders+ girls. Can’t wait. I’ll be buying extra Kleenex this week.
        Looked it up, Roger Whittaker is a noted whistling recording artist.
        Found a cover of “Solitary Man” that makes my heart (beet) faster. Neil Youngish delivery. Sidewinders-iTunes. Listening to the album now and loving it.
        Granitewater out

  5. I’m totally with you on some of these. Monkees, Hermits, Partridge Family, and I’ve always loved Western Union! My best/worst guilty pleasure,though, is ABBA. Waterloo came out when I was in 8th grade, and I was always trolling the radio stations to try to hear it. I still think it’s a great song! Where it becomes a guilty pleasure is with the spandex outfits of Agnetha Fältskog, and the darling little hat she wore in the Eurovision performance of Waterloo. Is this what it was like for girls who had pictures of Davy Jones and Bobby Sherman in their binders? I even have to admit that I like a lot of other ABBA songs, and that I could probably watch the video for Take a Chance on Me for hours on end and be perfectly content. OK, I’ve shared too much. By the way, so glad about your decision to keep going with your reviews. They are definitely a pleasure!

    1. Ooh–ABBA. That’s hard core stuff! I don’t care for their arrangements, but I have to admit I like their voices. There’s also a purity (some would use the word “sanitized”) about EuroPop that is strangely engaging.
      I’m happy about my decision, too . . . I just wish I could find a new release to write about. They’ve been consistently awful lately.

      1. More additions to my guilty pleasure list:

        Billy Idol – Wasn’t a big fan of his in the 80’s (liked Gen X in the 70’s), but he has really grown on me; you haven’t lived until you’ve seen him do Mony Mony live (do Tommy James and the Shondells belong on this list?)
        Adam Ant – I should know better, but I can’t resist; love the percussion and Marco’s guitar
        Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western soundtracks – the combination of whistling, choral chants/grunts/cries, wind instruments, and surfer guitar…well, I know what I like!

        The Monkees deserve their own special place in this category. They were my first favorite band, but I remember having to defend my like for them from the beginning, even as a seven-year old! Why is it so hard for people to understand that they were a TV show first and foremost? The fact that the music from their show was actually good sometimes is something that defies any reasonable expectations. That their music is still around almost 50 years later – sorry, but they must have been good. To this day, I consider Mickey Dolenz one of the best vocalists from the era. I know you don’t take requests but…I’d love it if you would review Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones, Ltd. Besides the Davy ballads, it’s a pretty interesting 1967 album. Daydream Believer came from the album’s sessions, but they saved it for the next one. I think Pleasant Valley Sunday was the best song they ever did, and it stood up really well on the radio with the other great music from that year.

      2. I love Billy Idol! Well . . . a few songs anyway. When he was on, he was seriously on.

        The chances of me reviewing a Monkees album are equal to the chance of the Republican Party discovering common sense, but I’ll do a quick check on iTunes anyway.

      3. The Monkees were a creation and road show of Bert Schneider, Bob Rafelson and Steve Blauner as BBS productions and Raybert productions .

        The music that Rafelson and Schneider put into their
        Productions which included; Head , Easy Rider , Five Easy Pieces and The Last Picture Show, might not be guilty
        Pleasures , but certainly spoke to a moment in time in
        American life.

        Don’t know if we will remember the Monkees as the years
        pass, more confident about the soundtrack of Easy Rider.

      4. You’ll actually iTune some Monkees? Wow, you really are open to all experiences! Start with Door Into Summer, Cuddly Toy, and Pleasant Valley Sunday. Still guilty pleasures, but 1967 guilty pleasures are better than most.

      5. With all the money I’ve saved from not buying any of the sucky new music coming out today, I think I can swing it.

      6. And so we all must update our History books: the Republican Party discovered common sense the day ARC reviewed a Monkees compilation (although she didn’t get one of the best ones but one which favoured many of their novelties over more worthy tracks like “Cuddly Toy” – a most apt title for a GP song! – , “Love Is Only Sleeping” and many others).

        “Don’t know if we will remember the Monkees as the years
        pass”… Well, 44 years after discovering them I still remember them – snd still like much of their oeuvre.

        And I’ve read somewhere that “the soul of AM radio are terrible songs you can’t resist”, and as a songwriter I’ve learned that a good pop (rock or not) song in one that sticks on your mind, whether you want to remove it (the song, not your mind) or not.

      7. One of my Guilty Pleasures just became guiltier…the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, no less.

      8. That was great! I’ve never seen a “symphony standard” ocarina before. The thing that kills me about symphonic musicians is they always look so fucking serious, more like they’re working on a budget than playing beautiful music.

      9. At least the “Wawa” woman seemed to be having fun. Did you notice her earrings? That should be required viewing for anyone down in the dumps.

      10. Wow! I always notice earrings but her stunning formality was so distracting. They look like shrunken Monopoly pieces.

    2. Keep coming back here. Not sure if Sparks really qualify as a guilty pleasure, but I can’t remember if you’ve ever referenced them and they belong somewhere! Thought you would enjoy the whistling in the chorus. Who wouldn’t? This is the first song of theirs I ever liked when I was in 8th grade and they’re still producing great music. Ron and Russell Mael…what a pleasure, guilty or not.

      1. I don’t think I’ve ever heard them or of them. I asked my dad about them and he grumbled something like “Silly L.A. band,” which explains why I never heard them growing up (it took him a long time to warm up to The Doors and he never cared for Love; Giants fans are like that). The singer sounds like early Marc Bolan, so yeah, I think they would qualify as a guilty pleasure. I took a peek at the Wikipedia page (very poorly organized) but noticed that they have quite a long recording history. I had no idea.

      2. Sparks have been recording almost 50 years now. Very interesting and fun band. Maybe the most well-adjusted brother act in Rock history. Had trouble cutting it in LA, so they went to England in the early 70’s and had some good success. Queen opened for them in England on a tour in 72. Sparks definitely were an influence on them, believe it or not. I’ll leave you one more to listen to. I do feel guilty loving songs like this:

  6. Guilty pleasures….very funny and all too true.

    Usually strikes for me,latest night on a long distance drive.
    Sometimes one catches that oldie radio station, adjust the right moment.

    Then hearing “Liar Liar” by the Castaways , or or Frankie goes to Hollywood “Relax”
    Just makes me smile .

    If one gets lucky you can get a run of Motown and the Philly sound.
    Listening to the urgency in Levi Stubbs voice singing “Bernadette”
    Or “Same old Song ” is a true joy.

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