When someone uses Britney Spears as a punch line, do you say, “I know she’s not a genius, but you have to admit ‘Toxic’ is brilliant”? If someone disses disco, do you respond by extolling the virtues of “Dancing Queen,” despite your friends’ rolling eyes? Have you ever tried to convince your friends that it really is worth the twenty bucks to see Styx and REO Speedwagon at the State Fair?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may be a guilty pleasure enthusiast. While you don't count guilty pleasure bands among your top favorites, you feel compelled to defend them against fashionable drubbings by those who claim to have more “sophisticated” taste. Sure, some people might lose respect for you as you proclaim your love for Kelly Clarkson, but you probably derive more enjoyment from listening to the schlocky glory of “Since U Been Gone” than from making fun of it.
We too love our guilty pleasure bands. So today, let us unite under a common banner to proclaim to a judgmental world our love for some prime guilty pleasures:
'N Sync was just as mainstream and lame as Backstreet, but they got some cred because Justin went on to have a genuinely creative and awesome solo career. The last time we saw Backstreet in the news, it was because Brian Littrell got swine flu. But there is no denying that “I Want It That Way” and “As Long As You Love Me” are two of the most appealing ballads ever. Lame? Maybe. Catchy? Absolutely.
You hear Styx hits on classic rock radio all the time, but no one is ever willing to stand up and say, “OMG! That band was sweet!” This is understandable, since their second-most popular song features a chorus that goes, “Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto.” But don’t be afraid to “Come Sail Away” with Styx—be a “Renegade” and admit this band rocks. Sorry about the puns—I probably have “Too Much Time On My Hands.”
This about-to-break German group writes stadium-ready emo anthems disguised as glam/hard rock. None of their fans like to admit they’re emo, and those who understand that the group IS emo stay away from Tokio Hotel, because no one wants to be known as “that emo kid.” But make no mistake: If you need a candy-coated pseudo-hard rock singalong, this band—headed by two twin brothers—has got your back. “Automatic” is an all-too-catchy auto-tune frenzy, and “Darkside of the Sun” finds teen melodrama getting cozy with a sick guitar riff.
Sure, the notion that “girl power” involves prancing around in skimpy outfits might not have been the best message for impressionable young kids. But when they were on target, the Spice Girls put out some of the best ’90s songs. “Say You’ll Be There” is a funky R&B-light delight, and—as scary as the music video is—they really can help you “Spice Up Your Life.”
No, Journey should never, ever show up on a “greatest bands of all time list.” But their finest moment, “Don’t Stop Believin,’” might just be a more beloved and welcomed sing-a-long than the mighty Beatles’s “Hey Jude.” We're not saying it’s better music, but to create a song that people of all ages and backgrounds can't help but sing along with at the top of their lungs is no small accomplishment.
What other questionable songs do you secretly adore? Which bands you feel the need to defend when people start making fun of them? Chime in with your nomination for Best Good/Bad Song Ever below!
Related Post: Playlist: Guilty Pleasures