By: Brandon Tuzio

I have to say, I found this list more difficult to put together than I initially thought it would be.  As it goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and when it comes to guilty pleasure songs that statement rings oh so true.

Some might find it embarrassing to roll up to a red light blasting “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister. I, on the other hand will be proudly singing along, pounding the steering wheel and looking into your eyes making you feel ashamed of judging me. IYF creator Vin D’Anton brought it to my attention that he’s been struggling with this problem since Summer 2010 upon the release of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls“.

I told him I understood, and that I too find the song quite catchy, and to embrace his yearning to blast it out at full volume whenever necessary. The facts might be blurry, but that’s more or less how the conversation went.

What I realized when compiling this list is that this is generally a male problem. Females will never have to apologize for listening to anything, ever. And that is something that all guys should envy and appreciate. The other thing I realized is that there are two keys in labeling a song as a guilty pleasure:

A: The song has to have something to justify any bit of pleasure. For example, “Who Let The Dogs Out” is a song so bad, that it simply cannot support such a claim. I don’t see a scenario where anyone would say, “But c’mon, their barking sounds are so authentic!”

B: The song has to have had a relative amount of success, enough so that you felt/feel uncomfortable admitting along with everyone else that it is/was in fact, a decent song.

10. Let’s Hear It For The BoyDeniece Williams: There are plenty of 80’s songs to not be ashamed to love, but this one proves to be difficult for some. But this song really has it all: punchy bass, catchy riff and an absolutely killer melody. It was a number one single in 1984 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song. Let’s hear it for Footloose! Verdict: PLEASURE

9. Forever YoungRod Stewart/What’s Love Got To Do With It – Tina Turner: These songs are strangely similar. They both have deep emotional motives for their respective artists, and give off the same sort of cheesy vibe. “Forever Young” is an indirect cover of a Bob Dylan song from his 1974 album Planet Waves“What’s Love Got To Do With It” was actually originally recorded by a British pop band called Bucks Fizz. Stewart and Turners voices even sound similar to each other! By the time you get half way through each song, you’ll easily find yourself fully committed to a sing-a-long and arguing with yourself over whether or not they are good songs. Verdict: GUILTY

8. Barely BreathingDuncan Sheik: Alt-pop: an era from the 90’s with a grab bag full of options for this topic. Sheik went on to have great success in the Broadway world, writing the Tony Award winner “Spring Awakening“, and his writing chops were already prevalent on “Barely Breathing”. Featuring a pretty groovy bass line, and a really terrific bridge, I find this one to stand out in the crowd of its College Rock counterparts of its time. Verdict: PLEASURE

7. Party In The U.S.A.Miley Cyrus: I hate this song. The reason? Because I have in fact been sucked into this song on the radio, somehow forgetting to change the station until the song was over. It’s no surprise that Dr. Luke had a hand in writing this song, being also responsible for six of Katy Perry’s number one hits, among many other artists. It’s extremely catchy, and Cyrus’ nasally wail is auto-tuned to perfection. (GASP!) Verdict: GUILTY

6. No More (Baby I’ma Do Right) – 3LW: I can’t believe it’s been over a decade since this song came out of our generations golden era of MTV. 3LW was a result of the incredible success of TLC, but never reached the same status. Upon revisiting this song, it’s pretty easy to hear the carbon copy of tactics in all songs from that era, whether it be TLC, Ashanti, Mya, whoever. It will be probably be forgotten another decade from today, but for now it somewhat holds its own. Verdict: PLEASURE

5. Faith/Fame RemixLimp Bizkit: Okay hear me out on this one. We’re all pretty familiar with the early aggressive version of Bizkit’s cover of “Faith” from the early 90’s. Most people gave up on the group after “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water“, and rightfully so. After “Chocolate Starfish”, they released a remix album of some of their previous songs. “Faith/Fame” is the only salvageable track from the record, so do yourself a favor and check it out if you’ve never heard it. It features Everlast, and a direct sample of Bowie’s “Fame” which is the clutch touch to make the song worth it. Verdict: PLEASURE

4. I Need To KnowMarc Anthony: Ah, the Latin invasion of the late 90’s! Many songs from that quick era could really take this spot, but I’m going to rest it upon the shoulders of the former Mr. J.Lo. Funny enough, the song was written for Lopez before they were married. A pleading ballad that actually was a bigger hit than “You Sang to Me“, and even won Anthony a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, still doesn’t find itself to be as timeless of a song as I’m sure he hoped for. Verdict: GUILTY

3. I Love You Always ForeverDonna Lewis: The more I listened to this song, the more I found it to be really clever. On a first pass, Lewis’ delicate vocals sound playful, and sultry: pleading her love and seeking love in return. But after a couple more listens, I couldn’t help but wonder if the guy she’s singing to is totally down for this relationship. Thinking this way, her vocals seem pretty creepy, and by the time you get to “Say you’ll love, love me forever…Never stop, never whatever,” you realize she might be crazy! Either way, the song is pulsing, well produced, and pretty catchy. Verdict: PLEASURE

2. Pop*NSYNC: Aren’t we’re far enough removed yet from the boy band movement that we can just accept that *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys were not bad? With Backstreet Boys CLEARLY being better than the former. (Get mad!!). “Pop” is crisply produced and will get anybody moving. “We got the gift of melody” is one of the first lyrics of the song, and they weren’t lying. JT and the boys had some serious chops. Verdict: The Jury is still out.

1. It Feels So GoodSonique: As if the 90’s weren’t represented strongly enough on this list, the decade of wonders finishes off the Top 10. Euro-house-trance-dance-music was huge in the 90’s, and criticized thoroughly by many. Sadly, that particular type of music has yet to regain steam and make a second coming… (dot dot dot) …  (cough) … Anyway, Sonique stands out with her sonic landscape and infectious melody. Verdict: GUILTY

BONUS. Anything Whitney Houston. For me, the cats meow is “I Have Nothing“, while I know Mr. Vin D’Anton has “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” comforting him in the rain. The point is, be proud of what tickles your fancy, and drop the guilt!

Tell us some of your own in the comment section!


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