Well, let's just look at it this way; if you've been following this column regularly, you'll see that I've already praised the likes of Mr. Mister, Duran Duran, Death Cab For Cutie, Genesis, and the Gin Blossoms, so basically I don't even fucking believe in Guilty Pleasures. That said, I understand that there is some music that maybe you'd be ashamed of. YOU, not me.
I like the idea of guilty pleasures. I like the idea of that type of music you'll switch to private on Spotify while listening to. It feels almost...dirty? Maybe not, maybe it just feels goofy. Whatever. Here's what I did, went ahead and crafted a list of tracks that people might throw a face-palm or a knee-slap to, because, y'know maybe they're not the hippest. BUT, here's the catch, actually none of these songs are guilty pleasures, because I DON'T GIVE A FUCK. No shame in this game.
Let's pop the top on this motherfucker.
I mean, is it cool to listen to Pearl Jam? When was the last time it was cool to listen to Pearl Jam, 1992? I don't know. I still think Eddie Vedder's early 90s look was the jam, and I don't even care if homeboy is partially to blame for the yeaah-uuhhh-uhhhhgggghhhh rock, ala Nickelback/Creed/Tantric/Days Of the New/assorted-whale-farts, that came to dominate rock radio in the late 90s tailspin into the early 2000s. Remember that song that Chuck Kreeger guy from Nickelback did with the Saliva dude from that Spiderman man movie? YIKES. Click click boom on my dome, paint the walls, man. Yowzers. Anyway, that's not the point. Eddie and the Jam have written some very poignant tunes in their years and have earned their rock cred, like it or not. Yeah, Eddie's voice can be kinda wonky, especially if you're only 22 and heard Pearl Jam post-hearing Creed the first time, that might be a shock to the system, I get that. However, a song like “Black” will fucking crush your soul into powder, doesn't matter how fucking cool you think you are or how rad, read: stupid, your hair looks. Eddie kills it here, drives it home with a legendary, Herculean line like “I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be a star... In somebody else's sky, but why, whyyyyyy whyyyyyyy can't it be, can't it beeeee-eee-uuughhhhh miiiinnnnneeeeee?” Yep. That's that heavy shit. I linked the live video so you could really feel that unbridled sincerity in Eddie and the boys as they just destroy this monster in front of a million people. Plus, in the live version, Eddie pops out the “we belong, we belong together” part that causes the world's fattest goosebumps/sadness boners.
I know, I know... I remember “Take My Picture,” I do. But maybe what you don't remember was when Richard Patrick was a hard-ass shredding for Trent in Nine Inch Nails? Yeah, that was before he started pulling a sort of sub-Perry Farrell impersonation and fucking with Korn. Also, just a heads up, did you know dude is T-1000's brother? Google it. So yeah, Filter's first album, Short Bus, is kind of a really, really killer record. I still stand by this record. Maybe you remember a little song called “Hey Man, Nice Shot." It was only featured in every single killer 90s movie, especially in scenes where dudes were just ultimately fucking shit up, i.e. Jim Carrey schooling clowns on the basketball court in the always classic Cable Guy (quite possibly his finest work). Anyway, “Hey Man, Nice Shot” was a riot and we all know that, but I'm talking about “Stuck In Here,” a short and simple, laid back acoustic jam where Patrick takes it easy and sings about being stuck, y'know, cuz life and shit.
Look, fuck you if you don't like the Chili Peppers.
I've lost my shit since day one on this song. Ok, let me rewind and say this, I have never, ever, ever heard another Tonic track besides this one. Is that because I think they're a bad band? No, fuck no. I think they're amazing. It's just that I've never needed another Tonic track. This one is perfect. So, from day one, yeah, since I saw the video on MTV for the very first time I loved it. When it ended, I was just like, all awkward on the couch, mouth agape, like what the fuck? I remember going to a local record shop, and I don't know, I must've been pushing 13 at the time. I was there to buy that Tool record, Aenima, but while flipping through the discs, this song came on the speakers overhead, so I found this record instead. I picked up the disc, and I fondled it for a minute, checking it to make sure this specific track was there... I mean, ultimately, I bought Tool because I liked my closet full of black t-shirts and like, life was weird. For a moment, though, this almost grabbed me... And I've been saying for a while now, this song is perfect to play while fighting all of your girlfriend's ex-boyfriends...and winning. Monster jam.
Hahahaha, look at that song title. Ok. Yeah. This is so goof-ass it's like borderline whack, and I'll openly admit that, but y'know what? Fuck it. There's enough sub-Nine Inch Nails grit going on, mixed with some pompous, highschool-styled journal poetry “Six o'clock in the morning / My head is ready to explode / I can't believe I made it home alive / I don't remember where I went / Or what I was drinking / And now it's made me sick / And I'm not denying / That I get this way / When I try to get over you,” homeboy obviously trolled past the hall-monitor to snag this from a daffodil-yellow knapsack hanging by a locker. I mean, but it's got a big fat chorus and the song is tight and if you approach if from the right angle, which is hard to find if you've made it to 20, you know, this song could actually speak to you. REGARDLESS of what you think and feel from a knee-jerk perspective, this is a perfect example of “guilty pleasure,” and another fine example of sad-ass music.
I don't know if I've covered much country music here, especially country of the more contemporary ilk, but y'know what? Travis Tritt is kind of a cool ass dude, maybe. I mean. Check out his look in this photo taken in 2012. Yup. That shit takes balls. Let's talk about a song like “Anymore,” right off the bat, if you're caught listening to this by your lame-ass hipster friends, expect immediate exile from their pretentious, bullshit, fuck off club. They're gonna try to take away all your Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk records, but you know what you can do? Hand them stupid motherfuckers a quarter and tell them to call someone who cares. Tritt killed it in a mega sad-ass way with “Anymore,” like stifling of the spirit style. I mean, this is the same dude who wrote “Country Club” and “T-R-O-U-B-L-E,” so you know homeboy could give a fuck less about like heartbreak and he just shakes it off... But damn, “Anymore” is heavy as hell. I really hope this is the first time Travis Tritt has received any kind of coverage on Vice. Yes, I wanna be the dude that made that happen.
I was recently chastised for listening to Counting Crows, and ok, in 2013, I get that. I don't agree with it, but I get it. I don't know if people still take Duritz and his doo-doo braids that seriously in this millennium, but I mean... I do. For one, I know for a fact that dude has been inside more celebrity ladies than you could see if you spent 12 hours a day in a movie theatre, seven days a week. Something about those doo-doo dreads channeled cosmic energy right into the hearts and souls of so many beautiful women, he melted them with those shit-locks. Did he pull it off? Yeah, totally, and thus he gave slobby-chic a definition, he inspired those of us who kind of suck, visually. More so, these dudes crafted some INTENSELY sad music, I just picked “Round Here” because it was the big, sad single and if your little sis catches it creeping from your headphones she's gonna call you an old fucking pussy, because she sucks. But the Counting Crows total heart-stomping sense of sorrow doesn't end with this song, go ahead and jam “Anna Begins,” “A Long December,” or god-fucking-for “Colorblind,” which will absolutely drop you to your knees, and you'll realize the full-force of the Crows' melancholic muscle.
PS: Adam, I like your hair. I'm being totally serious.
I've been completely honest and open with you guys... Y'all know I was a stupid, fat emo kid wearing dumb sweaters. I'm ok with you knowing that about me. Shit, I'm ok with that being who I was, fully. Did I own a copy of Something To Write Home About? Yes, duh, it was in a digipak thing if I remember correctly. So in a fit of nostalgia recently, I went back to this record, just to see how it held up. Sad to say, it didn't age as gracefully as I'd have hoped, BUT... “I'll Catch You” is still a sugar-sweet love letter to a love you can't ever forget. Fuck. I mean, yeah it's goof-ass as fuck, and I never listened to Dashboard Confessional, but I bet dudes who did listen to Dashboard Confessional and now say “yo, dat shit whack” probably still go back and listen to Dashboard Confessional and feel the way about that as I feel about this. Make sense? Yeah, I didn't think so. Put this one right before you fuck your girlfriend/boyfriend. I bet they'll buy you a new sweater the next day or maybe call you a total puss-ass.
As a kid, I remember Richard Marx's soft bullshitty songs coming on the radio, like, all the fucking time. I always got him confused with Bryan Adams, because they're the same person, and who cares? Anyway, I liked his jams. I thought they were pretty cool, and I imagined he probably owned a motorcycle that he liked to ride through the desert at night, and there was probably a girl riding on there too. I don't know anything about Richard Marx, I really don't, except that I have three of his songs on a Spotify playlist of shit I liked when I was growing up, and a song like “Right Here Waiting For You” is a perfect example of goofy-ass clown music I used to get really stoked on that still hits close to home when it pops up. But I mean, who actually claims to listen to Richard Marx? Doesn't he fuck around on Twitter too much now or something and, like, pisses people off or something? If so, that's pretty cool. I bet he owns a pretty cool boat.
I bet you don't remember this one. I know for a fact you still listen to “Sex & Candy” ,against your will or not, once a week, but this one, nah, you don't remember it... Well, let's just go ahead and get real, this whole eponymous record is a pretty serious jam. Let's rattle off some of these hits: “Saint Joe On The Schoolbus,” “Sherry Fraser,” “One More Suicide,” “The Vampires Of New York,” all classics. These songs were perfectly constructed pop songs, radio bangers, but they packed a harrowing sense of honest-to-god emotion. I think that's one thing that was never hard to find on 90s rock radio, be it from your poppier stylings of a Blind Melon, Semisonic, or Spin Doctors all the way to the grungier leanings of Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. The 90s were just rife with bands that actually channeled passion through their instruments. You just don't get a lot of that these days, I think. So, yeah, Marcy Playground made it big with “Sex & Candy,” as they should have, because it's classic. “Opium” is just monstrous and fucked up and lethargic and makes your skin crawl. “One More Suicide” which follows “Opium” on the record, was a close-second for this list, but to me, “Opium” has just always hung my head a little lower. Goddamnit, am I even writing a guilty pleasures list? No. This is stupid. I'm stupid. This song rules.
Easily, one of the best songs ever written. Period. The end.
Well, there you go, twelve completely solid-ass GUILTY PLEASURES. To be completely honest, it was pretty hard for me to make this mix... Because I don't think you should ever feel guilty to listen to anything... So I just had to shit I think people have started to write-off as too goofy to be real, which is a real shame.
I guess if I wanna do anything, like, if I can achieve one thing with this column, it's just to show people, in no fucking way whatsoever, should you EVER be ashamed of what you listen to. Music hits you, if you're inclined to accept it, it comes at you full-force and probably starts when you're pretty young; it did for me. That shit is channeled into your brain through your ears, but it spreads down through your blood, pumps all up into your heart, flows around to your soul. Music helps make memories, it sets tones, it molds mood and, ultimately, helps shape your fucking life, people.
Sure, we all used to listen to some whack shit that we're ashamed of now, again you, not me. You still go back, because those very songs remind you of a time, a place, a person, anything. You need that. You need to be reminded of love and time and everything. Y'know if Edwin McCain's song “I'll Be” helped you get horizontal with that girl at the frat party in 2002, and then you ended up dating her for three years, and you got so comfortable you'd talk to her while she was shitting, with the door open even, and you got to where you almost liked her morning breath and really liked fucking her while she was on the rag, and yeah it might've not worked out and that was years ago, but goddamnit she still puts a smile on your face, WELL GODDAMNIT, then go back and listen to fucking “I'll Be,” and smile while sitting at the foot of your bed.
All I'm saying is don't be ashamed. Actually, y'know what? I don't care if you are or aren't, but live your fucking life, and listen to music that moves you, regardless of if anyone on this planet thinks it's cool or not, besides you. If it affects you, puts a legitimate feeling in your system, then shake with it. Ride that motherfucker.
Here's some other classic “guilty pleasures,” that maybe filled your heart with soaring sadness and calm crashes throughout the years:
Marilyn Manson's “Running To The Edge Of The World”
Collective Soul's “The World I Know” – yeah it's not The Goo Goo Dolls, brush up.
...and I guess 311 never wrote a sad song.
But you have to remember, none of these are BAD songs, maybe a little silly, maybe not. That doesn't matter, this is important shit. This is the stuff that lives are lived for and build around. Do you even comprehend that? This is heavy. This is important.
I love you. Keep your spirits up. Forever, I'm by your side.
I can't thank everyone enough for continuing to read this column, it means the absolute world to me.