The Guilty Pleasures Songbook

SWV (1993)Sixth grade. A friend's birthday party. A Saturday night birthday party. The lights are dimmed, boys and girls are in the living room, dancing awkwardly with a foot of space between them. And there, in the corner, is Rowan Sidd. Beautiful, prematurely bosomed Rowan Sidd. I get so weak in the knees. I can hardly speak. I lose all control. And something takes over me. Truer lyrics hath never been written. The Sisters With Voices spoke to me that night, on as profound a level as a sixth grader can handle. They were me. I was them. And Rowan Sidd had to be mine.
-Max Linsky

Bel Biv Devoe (1990)It's 1991 and my fourth grade self is rocking out to "Poison," Bel Biv Devoe's infamous ode to wicked women. On this particular day, I'm riding with dad and am pretty much oblivious to the lyrics, to which I'm singing along with childlike enthusiasm. We're sitting at a light during the "Me and the crew used to do her" line and my dad, outraged, turns it down, glares at me and bellows, "Do you know that they're talking about SEX?!?" I did, but was mortified enough to pretend I didn't and was a great deal more careful about what I played in the car henceforth.
-Leilani Polk

Let's Go Steady Again
Neil Sedaka (2001) Christ. I may never live this down, but OK, I LIKE Neil Sedaka! So sue me. But show me a person who doesn't know the words to this, or any number of Sedaka's sap-pop songs, and I'll show you a lying coward. I actually used to listen to good ol' Neil in the family recreation room back in the '70s with my brother Peter. We also listened to Elton John and Linda Ronstadt together, if you must know. Peter would usually be working on some macramé something-or-other while we listened. And no, I didn't put all this together and start making assumptions about him till waaaaaay later.
-Kelli K

Easy Like Sunday Morning Commodores (1977)
Can anything else make you cry, and retch, after 4.2 seconds?

Humpty Dance Digital Underground (1990)
"In the 69 my humpty nose will tickle your rear." ÔNuff said.

I Will Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) Meatloaf (1993)
What the fuck won't he do? We still don't know.

On and On Stephen Bishop (1977)
Wimp rock at its best.

More Than Words Extreme (1995)
A cassette copy of Pornograffitti: $9.99. A bottle of hairspray for the appropriate hair height: $1.99. Singing it on a karaoke machine with your best friend while recording it: priceless.

Trippin' On A Hole In A Paper Heart Stone Temple Pilots (1996)
We feel dirty just typing that.

How Deep Is Your Love Bee Gees (1977)
"And you come to me on a summer breeze/ Keep me warm in your love and then softly leave."

Bang Bang Nancy Sinatra (1966)
The song is good. Nancy Sinatra's guilty.

Baby, Now That I've Found You The Foundations (1968)
Creepy misogyny with a perky hook.

My Prerogative Bobby Brown (1988)
Dim-witted misogyny with a funky beat.

Cold Blooded Rick James (1983)

The gayest misogynist song of all time.

Violet Hole (1994)
Because no matter how crazy she's become, some of us can still appreciate the impact that Courtney Love had on our self-esteem in high school. Empowerment! Raw angry woman! Love it!

Stacey Adams Snoop Dogg (2000)
An entire tune dedicated to the dress shoe. Brilliant.

Are You That Somebody? Aaliyah (1998)
Babies crackle in background of the beat. Babies.

What a Fool Believes The Doobie Brothers (1978)
From '79 through '84, you couldn't climb into your parents' car and turn on the AM radio without hearing it.

Band of Gold Freda Payne (1970)
The most innocent song about sexual dysfunction ever made.

Paul Revere Beastie Boys (1986)
Come on, you know it's stupid as hell. You also know it's awesome.

Hungry Paul Revere and the Raiders (1966)
"Aw girl I'll be rollin' in it, Yes, yes, you know I will, yes I will, owww!"

November Rain Guns n' Roses (1992)
You gotta love the cheesy love ballads by bands claiming to be hardcore.

Sunshine Day The Brady Bunch (1972)
If you don't crack a smile when you hear this silly song, well, you're a heartless bastard, and there's no saving you.

Bullet and a Target Citizen Cope (2004)
Steering-wheel-slapping goodness.

Come on Eileen Dexy's Midnight Runners (1983)
Silly. Faux Celtic. Sticks in your head.

Last Christmas Wham (1986)
Gorgeous George sings like a girl, but he does it well, and there's no better proof than this Xmas song that practically makes you itch to take a sleigh ride.

Morning Train Sheena Easton (1981)
A true embarrassment, but catchy in a cloying sort of way.

Rainy Days and Mondays The Carpenters (1971)
Give in to the ennui. You know you can't help yourself.

All Star Smash Mouth (1999)
Even after countless commercials and the first Shrek movie, we still find ourselves humming along.

Smooth Criminal Jacko (1988)
"You've been touched by a smooth criminal." HA.

Jolene Dolly Parton (1974)
The best driving-alone-on-the-Blue-Ridge-Mountain-Parkway-in-a-thunderstorm-at-night tune of all time.

Ice Ice Baby Vanilla Ice (1990)
C'mon, you can't pretend like you didn't love this shit. You know you did.

The Rainbow Connection Kermit the Frog (1979)
If it works for a megalomaniacal pig, it can work for you, too.

Oops! ... I Did it Again Britney Spears (2000)
Oops! Did we say that out loud?!

Always Something There to Remind Me Naked Eyes (1983)
An effete English synth-pop group remake of a Burt Bacharach/Dionne Warwick classic. An atrocity! And it works!

Sister Christian Night Ranger (1983)
If you didn't hear it for the first time during that family vacation when you got your first crush, you couldn't possibly understand.

Hopelessly Devoted to You Olivia Newton John (1978)
We're getting choked up just thinking of Danny Zuko's betrayal at the pep rally. Girls, stay away from innocent-looking Italians. This song proves there's no such thing.

Last Dance Donna Summer (1978)
Those of us who were there can't not think about last call at Tracks.

MacArthur Park Donna Summer (1978)
Who woulda thought you could take Jimmy Webb's nonsense lyric about leaving his cake out in the rain and turn it into a disco anthem?

The Get a Grip trio (Cryin'/ Crazy/ Amazing), Aerosmith (1993)
Because the videos were so darn cool in junior high.

Breakfast at Tiffany's Deep Blue Something (1993)
I'd like an order of pancakes with extra, extra, extra syrup, and hold the pancakes, please.

The Promise When in Rome (1988)
One of the few atrocious synth-pop gems to thus far avoid being covered by a big-time pop-punk band.

Only the Lonely The Motels (1982)
A certain Planet staffer only recently retired this melodramatic Ô80s holdover from his karaoke go-to list.

Your Mama Don't Dance and Your Daddy Don't Rock 'n' Roll Poison (1988)
Nothin' like the big-hair version of a classic.

I Got My Mind Set on You George Harrison (1987)
Harrison's take on the 1961 Rudy Clark hit is really good in a fantastically bad '80s music kind of way. Plus, the video had singing taxidermy.

We Built This City on Rock Ôn' Roll Starship (1985)
The classic Mickey Thomas/ Grace Slick duet from Starship's string of crappy pop songs.

Walk Like a Man The 4 Seasons (1963)
Frankie Valli talkin' about how he gonna walk like a man in a very high falsetto.

She Blinded Me With Science Thomas Dolby (1983)
A synth-pop novelty number saved by its taut, funky groove.

Lonely Boy Andrew Gold (1977)
A horrible lyric saved by a grabby power-pop hook.

Silly Love Songs Paul McCartney (1976)
One of the sappiest songs in the Paul milieu, but it gets better with age.

If I Were A Rich Girl Gwen Stefani and Eve (2005)
Hip-hop meets Fiddler on the Roof. Zero Mostel is schvitzing in his grave, maybe, but the combination is genius.

Vogue Madonna (1989)
Speaking of rich girls... What's a guilty pleasure list without any Madonna on it?

Hooked on a Feeling Blue Swede (1974)
This one barely slips by in the pleasure category, and we're guilty about it, definitely guilty.

Set Adrift on Memory Bliss P.M. Dawn (1991)
Oh, Betsy Fierman, eighth-grade angel, where have you gone?