Top 10 Guilty Pleasures

In a post last week, I confessed to 10 musical lapses in judgment that I’ve made. Now it’s time to defend 10 more seemingly awful choices in music. These are artists that people make fun of all the time, but for some reason, I find them not only palatable, but doggone it, I like them!

  1. Styx. One critic likened one of their albums to a parking lot of whale vomit. Then there’s the embarrassing “Mr. Roboto,” the sickly sweet “Babe” and Dennis DeYoung’s sometimes grating voice. To that I counter with “Fooling Yourself,” “Renegade,” and a song to which I began my lip-synching career, “Come Sail Away.” Straight-ahead rock with stupid lyrics but lovely melodies.
  2. Boston. Boston gets lumped in with a lot of the Journey/Foreigner/REO Speedwagon cadre, and they were one of the first to try the “Hey, we’re still the same group, even though we don’t have the same lead singer you’re used to.” (See Van Halen, Journey, Styx, etc.) But the late Brad Delp had a voice that could make you weep. They’re still a staple of classic rock stations’ playlists, and a few months ago I blogged about “A Man I’ll Never Be,” the quintessential power ballad.
  3. Billy Joel. Some time during the last 15 years, Billy Joel became uncool. Perhaps it was “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” or maybe it was his divorce from Christie Brinkley. Whatever it was, I don’t understand how the writer of “Only the Good Die Young,” “Don’t Ask Me Why” and “She’s Got a Way” can be considered uncool. He’s had a phenomenal career.
  4. The Sex Pistols. Not really a laughingstock or an embarrassment, but they don’t seem like something I’d listen to. But the sheer power of their music, coupled with Johnny Rotten’s in-your-face screaming, captured the essence of punk rock. They fascinated me.
  5. Air Supply. Sigh. I really didn’t want to include this one. I know they’re the ultimate wuss group, their songs define saccharine light rock, and they’re currently plugging K-Tel knockoffs in an infomercial. And let me preface by saying that they’ve never written a good lyric, and “Sweet Dreams” and “Making Love Out of Nothing At All” are awful. That still doesn’t save me from the fact that I have “Lost in Love,” “All Out of Love” and “Every Woman in the World” on my iPod.

    Gulp. Are you still with me?

  6. Duran Duran. These guys are as close as we’ve gotten to a second coming of the Beatles (not very close, though): Good looks, mass hysteria by teeny-boppers, and catchy pop songs. They’ve come to symbolize the all-style-no-substance reputation of 80s music, but they have survived while others (Culture Club, Naked Eyes, Simple Minds) have fallen by the wayside. Add 10 Top 10 hits and a new album in 2007, and they’ve had a pretty good career.
  7. George Michael. It’s a shame the whole restroom incident ruined his career. Starting out with the maddeningly catchy “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” transitioning to a red-hot solo career with “Faith,” and impressing even critics with Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, he knows how to create a pop song.
  8. Every new-wave one-hit wonder of the 80s. Pardon me, Mom & Dad, for rattling off names you probably don’t know or remember, for they had no career: Men Without Hats, Kajagoogoo, Thomas Dolby, Scritti Politti, The Blow Monkeys, A Flock of Seagulls, Real Life – watching the mercurial rise and fall of these groups was almost as fun as keeping up with their names and albums.
  9. Toad the Wet Sprocket. I don’t know if this is true, but it seems as if Toad have been all but forgotten – scorned by the musical elite for having chart success, and shunned by the general public for having a weird name. But accessible doesn’t really mean selling out, and Glen Phillips and Co. had the formula for a pop song down pat.
  10. Lisa Loeb. Another one-hit wonder, and another forgotten artist. I don’t have one of her major releases, but I love her acoustic purple tape that I got at a concert when “Stay” was just hitting the charts. It’s a collection of demos with just her and an acoustic guitar, and that’s the only way I’ll listen to her.
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