What’s a guilty pleasure song anyway? Is it something that you know is corny as hell, but can’t resist? Is it something your friends will mercilessly bust your balls for? Perhaps it’s a tune that is actually dope as fuck, but because you’ve self-identified as a douchebag music snob, you can’t admit it or you will expose yourself to be no better than the plebeians you have looked down upon for years? I propose it’s all three, with a heavy emphasis on number three for anyone who is, like me, an annoying euphonic elitist. I’ve decided to embrace my inner peasant and list my top five guilty pleasure songs. The songs range from hokey hippie-folk to 80s dance pop, from 90s booty rap to 00s reformed playa hip-hop.
- Madonna- “Open Your Heart”
You know what? I’m a Madonna fan. Deal with it. Watching her pretend to be a stripper in a peep show when I was eight certainly didn’t hurt in solidifying my connection to her music. I bet you didn’t know this song was originally supposed to be for Cyndi Lauper as a rock song, did you? I’m eternally grateful that Madonna ended up with it and put together an accompanying video chock full of erotic choreography and more 80s dance moves than a Molly Ringwald movie. In fact, I’ve been known to arrhythmically gyrate to many a Madonna song, bringing horrifying amusement to all in attendance.
- John Denver- “Sunshine on My Shoulders”
I’m a Mother-nature-loving hippie. The mere thought of a mountain sunset moistens my eyes like the morning dew on a virgin meadow. The crystalline clarity and melancholy rumination of John Denver’s voice has always superseded his clean cut country boy persona for me. I proudly say, “Aw shucks John, that sure is a swell song.”
- Janet Jackson- “Nasty”
“Nasty” is one of those tunes that unapologetically secretes feminine sexuality. The second single from Control, it embodied everything I love about badass female singers. Even at the tender age of seven, I was mesmerized by the power Janet wielded with her vocal chords, bold attitude and firmly seductive sway. If I ever get the chance to meet her, I’ll be sure to address her as “Miss Jackson.”
- Wreckx-N-Effect- “Rumpshaker”
The beauty of the early 90s for a young pubescent male was the plethora of rap videos featuring vast expanses of “booty girls.” Were they sexist and offensive? Most definitely. But please try explaining the morality of objectifying women to a 12 year old boy who had never even been close to seeing a real live titty. With a smooth beat, sexy saxophone sample from “Darkest Light” by Lafayette Afro Rock Band and a verse written by a young Pharrell Williams, this new jack swing classic was destined to top the charts in 1992.
- Fabolous featuring Tamia- “Into You”
In 2003, Fabolous released “Into You” right around the time I was getting engaged to my wife. Although I was never a lascivious womanizer nor a Neatly-groomed, Well-dressed black man, I somehow felt a deep connection to his confession of love and desire for the woman who inspired him to change his promiscuous ways. Whether it was the clean cyclical guitar line, Tamia’s sultry chorus or the romantic repentance of a former lecherous Lothario, it was a joyous pleasure to blast this jam while rolling in my sweet 1997 Volkswagen Jetta with aftermarket rims.