Sorry Not Sorry: Guilty Pleasure Songs

By Audrey Avril ’19

That song comes on the radio. We all have one. That song that, against your better musical judgement, you just have to love. Your guilty pleasure song.

What makes a song a guilty pleasure song? There are songs that sometimes make you feel guilty for listening to them. Whether it’s vulgarity or content (let’s be honest, usually both), these songs do usually cause you to wrench the volume down the second you realize you are in sensitive company. But these songs, while mothers covering their kid’s ears as you drive by may make you feel guilty about playing them, these aren’t guilty pleasure songs. If they were, would you get so much enjoyment about playing them in cool company?

No, your guilty pleasure song is something really embarrassing. It’s something short and sweet and frivolous and makes you just about want to disintegrate into the void the second it comes up on shuffle.

You tried so hard to have your taste reflect the cool, deep, intellectual, passionate, somewhat rebellious but above all cultured individual you know you are. If your music tastes are a reflection of you as a person through the eyes and ears of others, then what does your inexplicable love of a few short pop songs say about you? That you’re shallow, that you’re easily swayed by a pop tune and auto tune, just like the rest of them? You were the one with taste! People thought you were cool!

But now they know.

So you know what?

Just let it go.

‘Cuz the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.

In the end, what could one song say about you? If anything, it just shows what you already know you are, and that is an unapologetic lover of music.

Here are some of our guilty pleasure songs. Sorry not sorry.

“Shower” by Becky G

I put this song on a playlist for my girlfriend, and she promptly asked why in the world I had included it. I thought it was joyous and bouncy and lovely. Color me romantic, but sometimes crappy pop love songs really resonate in my soul. (Cameron Messinides)

“Siberia” by Lights

Despite being the signature pop album from everyone’s Scene phase, this album is actually spectacular. Though it may have weird dubstep influences from when that was an edgy and new thing to do, the album has heart as well as some great backing tracks to some equally stand out vocals. (Jeb Backe)

“Night Changes” by One Direction

Hear me out; watch the music video. If a group of quasi-attractive and quasi-talented 20-somethings can prosecute the worst dates in the history of human romance and still woo entire nations, so can you. It’s truly empowering. The song’s okay too. (Tyler Raso)

“Travelin’ Thru” by Dolly Parton

What is it about this song that makes it a guilty pleasure, you may ask? Could it be the fact that exactly one-half of the title is misspelled? Could it be those rather oblique references to Jesus and Christianity, both of which are considered Decidedly Uncool topics to cover in mainstream music? Or maybe is it just because you are under the influence of the heteropatriarchy and choose to judge the brilliant Ms. Parton for perpetuating her own public image of the “dumb blonde?” I reject all of the above. Dolly’s vocals are undeniably TIGHT and this song is catchy, profound, humble, and wise all at once. This summer when I worked retail I’d listen to this song on replay and suddenly helping crotchety customers decide which recliner to purchase felt a whole lot more like Doing The Lord’s Work. Dolly Parton is an amazing songwriter and she’s a straight-up G. Your life will be easier, happier, and more sexy if you stop fighting it and accept this truth. (Charlotte Freccia)

“Ugly Girl” by Fleming & John

This painfully catchy song is my guilty pleasure mostly because it’s intensely problematic- which, when I was 14, didn’t matter to me. The song, which is simply about a jealous girl airing grievances over her ex-boyfriend striking up a relationship with a girl she finds ugly, is brilliantly constructed. The lyrics may be painful to listen to now, since it’s fraught with late 90s disregard for microaggression, but the instrumentals and Fleming’s voice are just so addicting. You can definitely catch my listening to this on Middle Path. (Devon Chodzin)

“Mushaboom” by Feist

Coming from a girl who calls herself Feta Wap on Twitter, religiously checks KTT for the latest Frank Ocean disappointments, and was crushed by a crowd diving Schoolboy Q one fateful summer evening, one would not expect “Jacqueleen Eng is listening to Mushaboom by Feist” to pop up on Spotify. That is, however, what you’ll find some days. Feist brings me back to a simpler time. A simpler time inside an Anthopologie, shopping for an overpriced kitchen apron or perhaps a monogrammed mug. A simpler time requesting this 2007 hit at a karaoke bar in Montreal long after 1, 2, 3, or 4 drinks. If I think hard enough I can even recall finding myself flitting around the forest with my fairy friends to this very song. Mushaboom, mushaboom. (Jacqueleen Eng)

“Take On Me” by A-ha

I have a serious soft spot for the 80s, and nothing says 80s like a ridiculously peppy synthpop song from a one hit wonder. I usually try to set myself up as a bit of a moody, broody kind of music listener, but you know what? Sometimes I need a mindless little song like this. This song is definitely perfect for that. There is very little that makes me smile as much as blasting this song in the car to embarrass my friends and myself a bit, too. It’s super catchy and super embarrassing to like, and that’s what makes it fun. Also, that music video may be one of my favorites. (Audrey Avril)