Guilty Pleasures

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Let me start by explaining that I don’t necessarily agree with the label ‘guilty pleasures’. I understand the concept; that some things are just a little bit too cringeworthy to admit to. However, an old friend once told me – in reference to music – not to ever feel ashamed of anything that you like. And they were right. For instance, musical tastes change, but surely we can still like totally different types of music all at the same time. So no, I don’t feel guilty. We’re maybe just talking about the kind of music that you might not associate with a particular person or expect them to enjoy. However, in terms of the blog, well, the label fits nicely so let’s go with it.

In previous blogs I’ve touched on my love of music. I was brought up around music. It was the 70s and the time of eight track cassettes and vinyl. I distinctly remember that we had an old style hi-fi; a tower of a thing in its own cabinet, consisting of a record player, a cassette player and also a radio. There may have even been a deck consisting entirely of knobs, switches and lights designed to make the music sound better. Or I might be getting confused with a recurring dream I have of piloting the Millennium Falcon. Anyway, we also had a radio and cassette player in our kitchen and somewhere in the house there was an eight track player.

In the bottom half of the hi-fi tower was where I’d find my parents’ record collection and where some of my guilty pleasures to this day would emerge from. I went through a very uncool teen phase of quietly liking Status Quo as a result of my mother’s copies of Twelve Gold Bars Volume 1 and 2 and also where I developed a love of Dionne Warwick that lasts to this day and is definitely not one I’m ashamed of.

There always seemed to be music in our house. Even when we weren’t in my mam would insist on leaving the radio on so that any potential burglars might hear it and think that someone was in the house! As a result of being surrounded by it, I developed a love of music; some good and some, while not bad, not the kind of thing I’d admit to in front of friends and peers! Guilty pleasures before guilty pleasures were even invented, I suppose!

It was while listening to a playlist just the other day that I came up with the idea for this particular post. A song that I love came on and I just happened to wonder what the reaction would be to me actually liking it. So, I started making a list of songs that might join it on the list of so-called guilty pleasures. And without further ado, here’s that list!

  1. Shine by Take That – the very song that prompted the blog! For those of you who don’t know, Take That are a British boy band. In fact, given their age these days, it’s only fair to refer to them as a middle aged man bad, really. In short, they’re not really my cup of tea. But this song is something else. From the opening bars of piano it makes me want to sing and dance, which I imagine, is pretty important where any music is concerned. The harmonies are just right, the piano thumps alongside the bass all the way through and the pace of the whole track is great – a proper banger, as I believe young people all over the planet would say. Whatever they might say, I love this track!
  2. Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep by the Middle of The Road – very much a song from my childhood. It was actually released a year before I was born, in 1971, but I imagine I would have heard it via my parents’ record player. The title in itself gives it the guilty edge. I mean no one wants to admit to liking something called that, do they. Oh wait… It’s quite a soulful kind of song; up-tempo and breezy. And then you have a listen to the lyrics and things get even more uncomfortable than they were when you heard the title. It starts with the line “Where’s your momma gone?” which is regularly repeated throughout the song. You even get an answer to this heart wrenching question when you’re told that she’s “Far, far away.” That’s right. Whoever’s asking the question of the child clearly knows the answer and in an even crueller twist, they won’t specify where she is; just ‘far, far away.’ So very quickly in the song, all hope is lost! Then it gets worse as were told that ‘momma’ was singing a song last night, but when the child woke up she was gone. So she was in a great mood, all singing and dancing…about the prospect of leaving her child. But there’s a silver lining, right? The dad will step up and give this child a wonderful and fulfilling childhood, despite the lack of a ‘momma’, right? Wrong! In fact it’s not long before the lyric asks, “Where’s your poppa gone?” and you guessed it, he’s of course gone “far, far away”. So, in many ways, it’s a truly dreadful song, based around the theme of child abandonment. But it is without doubt an earworm and a guilty pleasure of the highest order.
  3. Faith by George Michael – I love a good pop song. In many ways there are few better things in music. From ‘She Loves You’ by The Beatles through to more modern tracks like ‘Wake Up Boo!’ by The Boo Radleys, if it’s poppy, shiny and happy, I’m probably going to like it. George Michael was pretty much a genius. A brilliant writer of brilliant pop songs and a man in possession of that voice. But I never liked him or his previous incarnatiion in Wham. I was probably going through some kind of metal phase at the time of Wham and I think I was into serious arty bands when he embarked on a solo career, so it’s probably more a case of music snobbery from me. I love ‘Faith’ though. Love it! I’ll even confess to indulging in a bit of air guitar along to it in my younger years. It’s almost a perfect pop song – a great beat, soulful voice, brilliant lyrics. Give it a listen – the intro with the organ, the moment the guitar riff kicks in and then that first couple of lines. “Well I guess it would be nice, if I could touch your body/I know not everybody, has gotta body like you.” Goodness me George, you mucky devil! The unmistakable suggestion of it all is just great. How could I not like it?
  4. Jet by Paul McCartney and Wings – Now you might well wonder about the guilt behind this particular pleasure. After all, it’s just a great song. So why is it in this list? Two words – Alan Partridge. If you don’t know, Partridge is a fictional TV presenter created by the great Steve Coogan. Partridge is in many ways an embarrassment. But that’s the whole attraction. Like David Brent in The Office, you just can’t help but like him, despite being so cringeworthy in almost everything he does. Partridge isn’t even particularly likeable. There’s a ruthless and sometimes cruel streak with him, but there’s no doubting his entertainment value. And this is where ‘Jet’ comes in. The song features in a scene where Partridge is leaping around his Travel Tavern room singing to it. However, he only knows the one word – Jet! It’s the least cool thing that you’ve ever seen, topped off by the fact that he attempts to bounce across two beds to get to the mini-bar and falls in a heap on the floor, injuring himself in the process! So now, whenever I hear the song, I’m more than likely going to channel my inner Partridge and completely spoil it.
  5. Sexyback by Justin Timberlake – look, I’m a middle aged man. I’m greying and up until a few weeks ago at least, was out of shape. I shouldn’t like this song. Unlike JT I’m not bringing sexy back. But that’s not to say that I can’t kid myself a bit! I can still listen to the song and imagine myself as a much younger man, who although he still wasn’t bringing sexy back, at least had age on his side! I can still amuse those around me – mainly my wife – by singing along to it and having a bit of a dance. I mean, everyone wants to see a middle aged man gyrating around extravagantly and telling no one in particular, “them other boys don’t know how to act” don’t they? In short, if you can’t dance to a tune like this, then what’s the point in anything, ever?
  6. Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble by PJ and Duncan (aka Ant an Dec) – this song didn’t actually make my original list. When I sat down with my notebook to make a list (as much planning as I ever actually do) it simply didn’t spring to mind. And then, on a long car journey – I’m English, it’s not a road trip – my wife’s IPod sprung this on us. It seemed the most obvious guilty pleasure ever and I couldn’t deny it a place on the list. If you don’t know, this was a track performed by two characters from the successful children’s TV show, Byker Grove. This was quite different as, at the time of release, neither character was still on the show, but they decided to perform as fictional characters anyway. Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble features boxing’s Michael Buffer basically sampled doing his catchphrase throughout the song. It’s up tempo and to all intents and purposes, a rap, although I’m sure some would question that description. It appears to be a song about nothing in particular; just PJ and his friend Duncan introducing themselves and talking a bit about their song – it’s very catchy – and themselves – they sound a bit of a pain in the arse, to be fair. Sample lyrics include, ‘I’m Ant (I’m Declan), a duo, a twosome, so many lyrics, we’re frightened to use ’em! So many lyrics we keep ’em in stores, we’ve even got ’em coming out of our pores!’ So no hard edged, biting political comment here and none of rap’s rebellious streak either. Just the kind of introduction you’d make to your gran and then some outrageous claims about words, including the fact that PJ and his erstwhile pal Duncan have them actually seeping from their skin. It seems that this might have been directed at a grandparent, given that anyone else would have simply dismissed it out of hand, while gran would have at least greeted it with a cursory, ‘that’s nice, love.’ There’s also the controversial line that follows as well as we’re told about, ‘Your father, your mother, your sister, your brother, Everyone’s got to be an AKA lover!’ Classic boastful teen hi-jinks, if you ask me. I can safely say that neither my mam or my sister have ever indicated a love of automatic rifles and I don’t think I know of anyone else who would have to omit their mums from a list of people who don’t love guns. Boys, eh? What are they like? I still love the song though.
  7. Never Too Much by Luther Vandross – I have my sister to thank for this one. She’s six years older than me and so was just at the right age to fall for it when it was released in 1981. It’s classic old school R&B and so in my teen years I should have hated it, given the rest of my musical taste. But I’m a sucker for a catchy tune and a slick lyric and this has got both. Take for instance this section of the first verse, ‘I can’t fool myself I don’t want nobody else to ever love me, you are my shining star my guiding light my love fantasy, there’s not a minute, hour, day or night that I don’t love you, you’re at the top of my list ’cause I’m always thinking of ya.’ Whatever your taste in music, it’d be churlish to deny the beauty of those lines. And at the risk of sounding like an overnight DJ on Cheese FM, if you’ve ever been in love it should make perfect sense. I was probably twelve when I first really heard this song, so I shouldn’t have liked it. Girls were probably to be avoided back then (although I think twelve year olds have come a long way since those more innocent days.) I didn’t hate it though. I loved it. But I wasn’t brave enough, or naive enough to let anyone know. Now, it’s one of those songs that’s just guaranteed to have me dancing around the kitchen – where I play a lot of my music – and I’m not ashamed to admit that I love it!
  8. Single Ladies by Beyonce – as I’ve said before, I just love a good slice of pop and although this is more likely to be classed as R&B, I don’t think you can deny that it’s a pop classic too. Confession time though; I’m not and nor have I ever been a single lady. I can’t empathise with the message here, unlike say with Luther in song 7. It’s just a great song, sung by a great singer and has a brilliant dance to go with it. So what’s not to like? I may well be a middle aged man from the north of England. I may well be a little bit grumpy at times and tend to err on the side of sarcastic. I may not have suffered the heartache that led me to think up a dance routine with a twirly hand bit in it alongside the line that ‘you shoulda put a ring on it’. But I really love this song.
  9. Young Guns by Wham – George Michael again, innit? I’ll be honest, it’s just the fact that this is so over-the-top that grabs me about it. If you don’t know the song it’s about young, rebellious George and the fact that a former friend now has a fiancee. George does not approve, feeling that young guns should be having their ‘crazy days…on the run‘ and that ‘wise guys realise there’s danger in emotional ties’. The chorus is really the only part of the song that is actually sung with the rest of it being rapped, if you imagine what rap sounds like coming from a white Anglo Greek millionaire in the 1980s. The best bit, and the bit that makes me mime along every time is the conversational/argument bit near the end. It’s brilliant and quite the in-song am dram masterclass. George’s friends fiancee doesn’t approve of George and calls a jerk which leads to what can only be rightly classed as some textbook 80s misogyny with the friend telling his wife, ‘Hey shut up chick, that’s a friend of mine! Just watch your mouth babe, you’re out of line.’ So the message of the song – as expressed by young gun George and his former close friend that kept his fiancee a secret – seems to be that young men should be out there ‘single and free’ and that commitment is an absolute no-no. Or as the song says, ‘death by matrimony’.
  10. When a Child is Born by Johnny Mathis – I’ve loved Johnny Mathis’s voice since I was a kid. It’s what you might call distinctive. No one else sounds like him. So I suppose, as an impressionable child it stood out, caught my ear if you like and, being as young as I was, it didn’t matter how old he was. Again though, he was an artist that I never openly declared my love for simply because Johnny Mathis was not someone that any of my friends or peers would have found cool. In fact, I’d have been laughed out of town, so to speak. This is one of those Christmas songs that I could listen to at any time of year. I think there’s a video of a performance from Top of The Pops, where he sits in an armchair, crooning away to a load of children. Classic really. If my memory serves me correctly there’s a Christmas tree behind him with presents under it as well. I’ve no doubt that those kids have been bribed to sit there with sweets or maybe even those presents under the tree. Me? I’d have sat there for nothing but the love of the song; still would!

So there we have it, my list of not-so guilty pleasures. I dfare say that if I sat around for a while longer it’s a list I could triple or even quadruple. I’ve had to narrow it down anyway – my top 13 guilty pleasures wouldn’t have really worked.

I’d love to hear what people make of the list. Are there any of your favourites on it; guilty or not-so guilty? If not, what songs would you add to it? Let me know in the comments.

Author: middleagefanclub

Man, husband, dad, teacher, coach, Geordie. Former street dancing champion of Tyne and Wear, guinea pig whisperer, developer of the best-selling fragrance, Pizzazz and alleged liar. Ex male model and a devilish raconteur. No challenge should be faced without a little charm and a lot of style.

15 thoughts on “Guilty Pleasures”

  1. I love this post. I have been working on a similar one for a while about songs that I have to sing along too, loud, usually in the car!

    I am currently listening to some of my Mum’s favourite songs as it is her 2nd ‘angel’ birthday tomorrow. These songs are literally the soundtrack of my childhood, especially in the car on our way to many holidays. Some of them are so cheesy and my fiance was cringing while I belted out word for word the greatest hits of Dr Hook!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fun post! You brought me straight back to my teen years with the stereo cabinet and the mention of Faith. I even remember the boy who used to sing it to me! He loved George Michael. I never get tired of SexyBack or Single Ladies. Great list!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So many good songs on this list! I must say we are George Michael / Wham fans in our house and always have some form of music on. Greatest Hits radio is a great station to listen to as it has hits from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, some really good tunes being played! Luther Vandross is another of my guilty pleasures, and Whitney Houston’s “Dance with somebody” too!

    Thanks for sharing, loved the post!
    Aimsy xoxo
    Aimsy’s Antics

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a fun post! I love all kinds of music, from country, to classic rock, and even some rap. I would agree that there’s really no need to be embarrassed about liking any particular music! I do have to say “Single Ladies” is a gem! It’s pretty much impossible not too sing along with and hard enough not to dance to!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with many of these songs! I had a relationship once where my boyfriend always made me feel bad about the music I liked. For a long time, I was ashamed to like some of the stuff I did. As an older, wiser, and better person now, I embrace it and give credit to any music where credit is due. There’s no shame!

    Liked by 1 person

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