Once, after I referred to a particular song as a “guilty pleasure” (probably something by Madonna), a friend asked what I meant. I answered very carefully! After all, one person’s guilty pleasure is often another person’s favorite song or artist.
“Danger, Will Robinson!”
But that’s exactly what I like about the concept of the guilty pleasure: it’s so individual and, by its nature, surprising. It dispels fixed notions about another person. And there’s something great about the moment when someone reveals a guilty pleasure, a combination of shyness, embarassment, and (of course) guilt, often offset by a slight air of defiance, a whiff of “So what?”.
So what exactly is a guilty pleasure? It usually comes up in situations where people with (for lack of a better term) “high-brow” or just plain picky tastes like something “low-brow” or much more mainstream than expected. It’s someone who “never watches TV” admitting that she likes Dancing with the Stars or The Bachelor. It’s an art-house/indie movie snob owning up to liking Will Ferrell flicks. It’s an active, outdoorsy, non-sports-watching guy who watches golf, of all sports on TV. (I may be describing someone I know here. In fact, it might be me.)
It doesn’t always have to be something low-brow. It could be a football player who loves ballet, or a NASCAR fan who also loves Formula One. Anything that stands in sharp contrast to one’s normal and expected interests.
I think of this concept mostly in relation to music. It could be a classical music aficionado who likes Metallica, or a county music fan who loves a particular dance tune. In my case, since I generally don’t like mainstream music, and don’t listen to certain genres at all (dance, MOR pop, hip hop, and popular country), I find my guilty pleasures include songs from all these genres, very popular songs that have somehow insinuated themselves into my head.
A few years ago, I started a Guilty Pleasure mix on my iPod. Here’s what it contains as of today, not all my guilty pleasures, but just the ones I own:
- “I Gotta Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas
- “Ticks” by Brad Paisley
- “Save A Prayer” by Duran Duran
- “Rio” by Duran Duran
- “Unbelieveable” by EMF
- “We Got the Beat” by The Go-Go’s
- “Jump Around” by House of Pain
- “ABC” by Jackson 5
- “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry
- “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum
- “Live to Tell” by Madonna
- “Like a Prayer” by Madonna
- “Vogue” by Madonna
- “Passionate Kisses” by Mary Chapin Carpenter
- “O.P.P.” by Naughty By Nature
- “I’m Like A Bird” by Nelly Furtado
- “You’re Still the One” by Shania Twain
- “Soak Up The Sun” by Sheryl Crow
- “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None The Richer
- “Connected” by Stereo MC’s