Guilty Music Pleasure


I think this is a totally awesome song:

Not even guilty!

edit: I forgot how silly that video is for a fairly melancholy song


Sure, one knows one should not feel guilt. BUT SOMETIMES ONE DOES. And that’s what needs examination. Exactly what do we feel guilt about?

Why would one feel guilt about:
– Monkees? Because they were a fake band
– Crystal Gayle? Because she flourished in the 70s soft-focus era now seen as cheesy
– Hawkwind? Because they’re nerdy hippies singing about space and Elric
– Sparks? Because they’re super fey
– Phil Collins? Whitebread taste
– Screamin’ Jay? Novelty song aspects, sings as a character
– Metal and hard rock? Seen by others as music for dimwitted working class kids from the high school smoking lounge, fantasy aspects, grandiose.

All these are criticisms we’ve internalized from others. We imagine other people sneering at our tastes.

I have a gay friend from grad school who’s now a very successful screenwriter and fiction writer who teaches writing at Harvard. A few years ago, we had a Facebook discussion where I was making fun of George Michael, and he responded with some thoughts on his own “internalized homophobia” — that he’s realized he has an impulsive reaction against flamboyantly gay music/celebrities/etc. that he encounters, inner voices that come from his youth in the closet and the things he heard people say then.

Just that phrase, internalized homophobia, set gears spinning in my head that translated into “internalized nerdophobia.” And I realized that I still suffer from a few internalized voices of my own — the kids in middle school who called me gay for liking D&D, playing in an early padded-weapons LARP, liking AC/DC instead of Michael Jackson, etc. And I’m not exactly known for being a shrinking violet about who I am and what I like. But I was a shrinking violet when I was 11, and though I didn’t try to change for others they did get under my skin.

Years later, I had the same kind of friction with the other music nerds in college with their hipster affectations, and I’m sure my voice was internalized by no small number of them.

Anyway, that’s my theory of guilty pleasures.



Is that the perception people had? Because, today, I find that it tacks the opposite direction. That it is the genre of choice for those who value complexity, technical skill, and individual expression (more than most genres the band members write their own songs).

So the dim witted meathead stereotype you describe clashes so heavily with my perception and experience.

I am also significantly younger than you, so did not live through the Van Halen/ glam metal days, not really.

And, honestly, I can’t rightly describe my affection for the folk/ power metal retelling of the Silmarillion, or the two album symphonic metal Faust epic, or the 7 double disc ongoing series of space opera prog metal story set in a fictionalized sci fi universe where a dying race of transcended aliens seeds human life on earth by sending the comet that causes dinosaurs to go extinct, as part of an ongoing experiment to relearn the emotions they lost when they integrated with machines to survive, and are trying to manipulate time to prevent human extinction in the year 2085, as a guilty pleasure. I straight up unabashedly love it all,

No, really, that last bit? A fairly accurate executive summary of one of my favorite bands ever. Ayreon is amazing, and the exact opposite of a guilty pleasure as I crank it up.

So I laugh at the portrayal you give, because it not only doesn’t feel accurate, it’s the exact opposite of my experience on how people perceive it.


Yep. Throughout history (which ended in 2010) “normals” associate(d) bands from Motley Crue to Slayer to KISS with glue-sniffing dirtbags. “Hesher” was a common word for it BITD, but where I grew up the word was “grit.” The truth was that only about one-fourth of the fans were actual glue-sniffing dirtbags; the rest were angry nerds and weirdoes (like me) enjoying the epic explosive feeling of it all. 80s Iron Maiden is certainly the ancestor of the very interesting albums you describe. Do you listen to The Sword?

Speaking of ancestry, “complexity, technical skill, and individual expression” is exactly how Rush fans since the 70s have conclusively proven to the ignorant that Rush is the greatest band of all time. So when you say that people perceive metal etc. that way, I think you may be talking mostly about your friends…? Because in my experience, very few people place a particularly high value on complexity and technical skill in music outside that very analytical population of metal nerds.

Anyway, I’ve long had the sense from talking with my friends with kids that young folks today aren’t up against a sense of what’s specifically “normal” anywhere near as strong as what we had to contend with. Makes sense, in an era when everyone’s seen the LotR movies and played WoW etc. etc. and the Top 40 singles seem almost irrelevant. And it’s a good thing. Perhaps guilty pleasures will go from music to something else. Shoes?


I mean, i also listen to Rush, and my favorite band of all time can trace a direct lineage to Rush, Iron Maiden, and Queensryche. So…

And I make the statement I do today, because of the metal scen and bands that exist within it now. There is definitely a tilt within many metal communities towards virtuosity as an important element.

Not all, mind you, but the world of metal today is vast, international, and has more than a few hairy Scandinavians playing odd time signatures.

As for your contention that ‘normal’ music is less important today? I’d say that largely transitioned about the mid 2000’s, as the rise of internet’s streaming caught on. Being bound by her geographic peculiarities of your local radio vanished, and the death of mainstream rock and transition to image focused pop has certainly enphasized individual preference as an acceptable option.

Basically I experienced the transition while transitioning from high school to college myself. As streaming made finding niche bands you were personally invested in not only possible, but encouraged.

And, yeah, the mainstreaming of nerd culture helps make it so that saying one of my 5 favorite albums of all time is a power/ folk metal fantasy concept album based on the Silmarillion a not only socially acceptable answer, but one likely to invite more curiosity than ridicule.


I feel a little guilty for loving the hard transition and corny montage of this Randy Newman jam, but the apathetic “big nasty” redhead makes this a must-watch!


Feel guilty only if you don’t also appreciate the troves of Newman stuff that’s tons better.


How do you guys feel about mallcore or nu metal? Are they just as good as regular metal?


I challenge someone to listen to this song to the end and not feel very confused and kind of off at the the end.

It’s just wrong, but not in a bad way. There is nothing wrong with this remix except perhaps everything.


You’re right Lego. Now try this:


Both mega successful bands that lost their front men to suicide. :(

Regarding guilty pleasures, I’m in love with this little power pop gem!


Yeah, I am properly weirded-out.


I’m a huge fan of Bon Iver - so mellow, so chilled.



Elvira, guilty? I beg to differ.



How could I forget one of my favorite guilty pleasures? The Pork Dukes.

Most of their songs are NSFW. This one is less so.


Most of my guilty pleasures are stuff from the 80s, but this one from a decade later fits the bill too because it features Michael McDonald.


311- Down