Musical Guilty Pleasures

It’s never an easy thing to do.  Admit to liking all those cringeworthy songs that you’re meant to hate.  You know they’re awful, you know you can’t admit to liking them, and you know you face being disowned by your peers, and ridiculed for admitting you actually have some of these songs secretly stashed away in the deepest corners of your iPod.

This is why I’m going all out. I hate myself for it, but here are my top ten musical guilty pleasures.

10. Abba – Gimme Gimme Gimme

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OK, so maybe admitting to liking Abba isn’t all that bad now, I mean Mamma Mia was the biggest movie of 2008. They’re cool again, yeah?  This song was even sampled by Madonna in her huge hit “Hung up” a few years ago.  Even by Abba standards though, this is horrendously camp. So much so, it was used as the theme for the mincing sitcom of the same name in the ’90s.  As a straight man, I probably shouldn’t love this song so much.

9) Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby

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At least I wasn’t the only one drawn in by Mr Van Winkle’s craptastic 1989 effort. It topped the charts in 42 countries around the world, sold 40 million copies, and was the first “hip-hop” (a very loose term) single to top the American Billboard Chart.

He originally denied that he sampled the bassline from Queen and Bowie’s “Under Pressure”, despite sounding identical. No court case ever ensued — likely after Queen and Bowie heard the track and decided they’d rather not have any association with it.

Oddly, the video isn’t anywhere to be found on YouTube — just a belated apology from Robert Van Winkle a few months ago, giving us a heart-felt sorry for ever inflicting this song upon us. Don’t apologise, Rob. If we didn’t secretly love it, you’d have been long forgotten about.

8)  Hanson – Mmmbop

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I don’t believe anyone doesn’t secretly like this song, if you tell me you really hate it, I’ll call you a liar!

The three brothers never managed to top the global success of this song.  Their feminine hair styles did cause a bit of confusion, though. How I laughed at my friend Antony claiming “the girl on the drums is hot” when it was actually a boy.

This song still takes me back to the hot summer in 1997, naff as it was. And knowing they will probably never hit these heights again, Hanson fully deserve their place in this chart.

7) Dolly Parton – 9 To 5

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There isn’t a dancefloor in the world that won’t explode when the first clanging chimes of 9 To 5 kick in. After the success of Jolene, Dolly followed in the footsteps of many artists in the late ’70s, and jumped on the Disco bandwagon.  The result is this, a fantastically catchy floorfiller, with lyrics that relate to anyone who’s slogged out most of their life working for the man, and as such has become a Saturday night and office party staple the world over.

There’s even lyrics on the video above so you can get practising in time for this weekend (but don’t ask me what all the dancing fairytale characters are doing?!).

6) Chesney Hawkes – The One And Only

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Ahhh Chesney “the mole” Hawkes, the man who we all thought would go onto be the next big global popstar in 1991, yet is commonly regarded as one of the biggest “One hit wonders” of all time.  This is not entirely accurate; the followup single “I’m a Man Not a Boy” reached the dizzy heights of number 27 (no one believed you Chez!).

Years in the wilderness followed, flop record after flop record, until Chez admitted it: you cannot ever follow “The One and Only”.  After embracing his anthem, he has had a shrine on Celeb Big Brother, stood in for Kate Nash when she cancelled a gig last summer (what a pleasent surprise that must have been!) and has toured universities for the last decade still performing this anthem. Pure perfection.

5) Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up

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WARNING: Do not click unless you secretly love being “Rickrolled”!

Odd how things turn out.  A man who recorded the biggest selling single and album of 1987, then got sick of it all and jacked it all in.  Then 20 years later, he become one of the biggest youth phenomenons in the world, and won an MTV lifetime achievement award.

Originally famed for his soulful voice and catchy songs, the naff low-budget video and cringeworthy dancing have made this video a true “watch through your fingers” moment that everyone complains about when they accidentally click the video.

But why is Rickrolling so popular?  Why is Rick Astley’s biggest hit consistently in the top 10 most viewed videos on YouTube?  Simple, because the song is fantastic, and we all secretly love being Rickrolled. Give in to it!

4) Grease – Summer Nights

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Wella-wella-wella, who hasn’t been dragged to the dancefloor by your drunken aunt to dance to this at a wedding reception?  A front-of-the-box anthem for any mobile disc jockey, just hearing this song reminds me of naff Butlins/Pontins holiday (prison) camps.  The rays of sunshine in Olivia and John’s voices somehow added a bit of glamour to an otherwise depressing wet weekend in Blackpool.

You can read into the lyrics, and hear an innocent tale of the differences in adolescent love developing, and the sad pressures of teenage life… or you can kick your shoes off, grab that glass of wine, and get boogying with Aunty Ethel right now.

3) Cliff Richard – I Just Don’t Have The Heart

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Erm… so yes… I like a Cliff Richard song.  In my defence (?!) I didn’t realise this was Cliff for many years. I had a copy of Now 16 on a copied cassette tape without tracklisting, and this song was on side B, alongside other late ’80s hits by DeLaSoul, D-Mob, Bobby Brown and Mantronix… so naturally I assumed this was just another catchy commercial dance song.

Only around a decade later did I actually see this song on TV and realised, shock horror, Cliff wasn’t covering this childhood favourite of mine — he actually sang it!  Turns out old Cliff wanted to appeal to the youth in 1989 and went to hit making powerhouse PWL.  The result is this: old leather-trousers belting out a commercial piano-house classic.  Like most PWL songs, it didn’t matter who sung it, the song itself was great. I just close my eyes and pretend its Farley Jackmaster Funk, or someone cooler.

2) Starship – We Built This City

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Considered by many as the moment Jefferson Starship “Jumped the shark”.  Escaping from their roots as a cool band from the ’60s underground rock scene, they bent over and took corporate dollar, eventually leading to writing the theme song to sicko movie “Mannequin”.

While lyrically, this suggests some rock n roll rebellion, the songs itself could not be further from it.  A typical “rock by numbers” ’80s pop song that could have been used on any 1985 diet soda commercial.

Who could forget the immortal line: “Who cares, they’re always changing corporation names,” sneeringly sung by the band who changed its name three times.

1) S-Club 8 – One Step Closer

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I fully deserve to be disowned by my entire family, friends, and anyone who has ever met me for loving this. I hang my head in shame and admit I think this is amazing.   Admitting to liking a few S-Club 7 songs, I think, is passible, but S-Club 8/Juniors?!  What the hell is wrong with me?

Well turns out, this song was penned by the queen of pop, Cathy Dennis, the lady behind such anthems as Kylie’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”, Sugababes “About You Now”, Katie Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl”, and everyone from Pink to Moloko.

What we have here is a fantastically feel good disco anthem.  Regardless of the fact its performed by a bunch of snotty pre-teens, the production and lyrics just never fail to make me quietly turn the iPod up a notch or two, obviously not loud enough so anyone else could overhear, but just enough.

Plus S-Club 8/Jnrs did produce Frankie and Rochelle who are now in the Saturdays, so they obviously had some talent somewhere.  Extra props to this video for the appearance of Dick Head from Bottom as the school headmaster too.

So that’s my countdown, I need to spray some air-freshener to get rid of the overwhelming stench of cheese in this room now.  Any guilty pleasures you wish to share?  Leave a comment if you dare…