We all have them. Those songs we listen to in the car, when no one else is around, that we even sing along with, when no one is looking. The songs we’re slightly (or severely) embarrassed to admit we not only like, we have them on a playlist on our iPod.
Some are truly bad songs. But others just don’t fit the image we’re trying to maintain. The rest are slightly outdated, overexposed, completely random, or contain lyrics that you would generally find offensive as a feminist, if there weren’t irrevocably intertwined with happy memories that occurred before your consciousness was sufficiently raised.
I bet you can already think of several songs like this, ones you only listen to in secret.
But we all know where secrets can lead — to lies ("Yeah, I hate Air Supply too!").
And where do secrets and lies lead us? If we’re Brenda Blethyn, a career-making movie about re-connecting with our adopted daughter. If we’re anyone else, a double life composed of furtively downloading songs when our partner/roommate/cocker spaniel isn’t looking, and stuffing CDs in the glove compartment when we offer our friends a ride.
So in the spirit of coming out of the musical closet, I offer 12 of my own guilty pleasure songs below, listed in alphabetical order with links (when available) to the song on iTunes so you can have a listen for yourself. I’ve even thrown in a couple videos, for good measure. Because nothing takes you back to the ’80s like Samantha Fox and her pink hair.
"Against the Wind" by Bob Seger It seems like yesterday, but it was long ago. Janie was lovely, she was the queen of my nights, there in the darkness with the radio blasting….err, wait. What was I talking about? Damn Bob Seger and his melodramatic musical epics, they suck me in every time!
"Dearly Beloved" by Faith Hill A hilarious ode to a marriage you know is doomed from the start, which asks you to "raise your glass and join me / here’s to the bride and groom / they’ll be together forever / until they find somebody new".
"Dope" by Bel Biv Devoe Completely sexist and lookist, but damn if it doesn’t make you want to dance! In my defense, BBD’s "Poison" and "Do Me" are sexist, lookist, and misogynist, so "Dope" is actually pretty good by comparison.
"Hard Day" by George Michael The perfect song to unwind to after a long day of picking up gay men in public restrooms and passing out in your car.
"Joyful, Joyful" by Lauryn Hill Otherwise known as that song from Sister Act 2, and yes, it’s gospel. I have to have my fix of choir music now and then. I make no apologies.
"Just a Friend" by Biz Markie So bad it’s good, especially when he hits the high notes in the refrain, "You…got what I need." What he really needs is a voice coach, but then that would take all the fun out of it.
I still remember the bikini-clad poster of Samantha my older teenage step-brother had over his bed. Boy, was he barking up the wrong tree!
"Riding With Private Malone" by David Ball Completely cliched country song about a guy who buys a Corvette previously owned by a soldier who died in action, whose ghost then saves him from a car accident. Yes, that’s right, it’s an ode to cars, patriotism, and God all in one! I can’t believe I just wrote that.
"Sunglasses at Night" by Corey Hart When you’re future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades…oh wait, that’s a different sunglasses song. Whatever, both remind me of dancing in my living room when I was 11. And Max Headroom.
"We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off" by Jermaine Stewart The only thing I remember from the fundamentalist Bible camp I attended in my teens was this song playing incessantly from someone’s boom box (apparently this was perfectly fine with the pastor, but that summer’s other hit song, "Red, Red Wine" was crossing a line). Fortunately, the sermons about gay people going to hell went right over my head.
Okay, now it’s your turn — cough up those guilty pleasure songs in the comments below! The guiltier the better, so I can live down that "Private Malone" song. Don’t leave me hanging!