Inching towards mediocrity.

So bad they’re GOOD. (Now with 97% more mediocrity!


Today we delve into the realm of popular music. Or, to be slightly more accurate, music that was briefly very popular, but is now an embarassment to the very idea of sound – yet somehow, still remains AWESOME.

Which brings me to today’s list – Thirteen Guilty Pleasure Songs You Hate to Love. (Or Love to Hate.)

Thirteen: The Sign. (Ace of Base.)ace_of_base-the_sign_s

Ah, 1993. A simpler time. A time before balloon boys and black presidents and lady gagas ran amok, choking our nightly news with the same tenacity as a green Jolly Rancher in a child’s throat. And the non-grunge soundtrack to that bygone era would no doubt be peppered with plenty – puh-lenty – Ace of Base.

It what pretty much came down to a coin toss, I went with “The Sign” over “All That She Wants.” Both are maddeningly catchy  pop anthems from the early nineties, but I suppose it will truly be “The Sign” that this weird, and oddly sexy, Swedish band will be remembered for.

And nothing else.

Twelve: Stay (I Missed You). (Lisa Loeb.)

Lisa-Loeb-Stay-70436One year after Ace of Base broke into North American homes, depositing their sugary sweet sound into teenage ears like some weird Swedish Santa Claus, a local girl with trendy glasses also made a bit of an impact.

Let’s face it…if you were a dude in the early nineties old enough to understand the basic differences between men and women – you had a thing for Lisa Loeb. Her girl-next-door image, her sweet voice, her awesome pre-Tina Fey eye gear…this girl was all that. Just ask Ethan Hawke.

And while her big hit single “Stay” may not neccessarily be a guilty pleasure for the feminine set, I often get strange looks from people whilst blaring it from the speakers of my Toyota Tercel while driving.

Though it may just be because I’m wearing those wicked glasses.

Eleven: Toxic. (Britney Spears.)britney-spears-e28093-toxic-wins-grammy

Say what you will about Brit – and there’s a lot to say, I’m sure – this song kicks ASS. From the offbeat synth/violin riff to the onbeat sweet percussion, this is a song full of hooks that gets under your skin and into the meat of your brain no matter how embarassed you might feel listening to a damn Britney Spears track.

Oh, and the video, like most of Brit’s visual work, is also something of a guilty pleasure. At least, I always feel strangely guilty three or four minutes after watching it…

Ten: Lovefool. (The Cardigans.)

lovefool-the-cardiganWhile the opening choppy guitar may be reminiscent of Television’s “Elevation” (not to be confused with U2’s “Elevation”, which is neither as good as the Television song, nor as catchy as “Lovefool”) this song nevertheless reamains a remarkably potent pop nugget. Made famous for it’s appearance in Baz Lurhman’s “Romeo & Juliet” MTV “opus,” it became a pretty big hit for this Swedish band, and the mere mention of it too this day still get’s her bizarrely accented voice stuck in my head.

Interesting that this is the second Swedish band to make the list – though not the last. Which brings me to….

Nine: Anything by ABBA. (ABBA.)abba001

Even if you change your mind, they’ll still be first in line. North America took a chance on Sweden’s ABBA, and by gumption, they stepped up to the challenge – delivering pop tunes so sweet that they gave our ears cavities, sending us all rushing to our dentists. Or ear doctors. Well, whoever you would see about damaged ear enamel.

“Take a Chance on Me,” “Mamma Mia,” “Waterloo,” “Dancing Queen” – the hits didn’t stop. Even today they’re still making musicals and movies based on ABBA’s long gone career. Catchy as hell, these are songs that everyone seems to know the words too – but of course, would never be caught dead singing them out loud.

Eight: Fields of Gold. (Sting.)

fieldsWhat do you get when you combine a peaceful melody, lush production and a friggin’ lute?

Sting, of course.

Let’s go back a bit. To, say…1979. When Sting was considered “cool”. Here was a white Englishman fronting the world’s biggest and coolest reggae band…and, let’s face it, one of the biggest bands in the world. Then the band broke up, and the other two dudes from “The Police” kind of just disappeared. This was the coming – the hearkening, if you will – of Solo Sting.

Not content to just sing and play bass anymore, Sting decided to add a few new weapons to his arsenal. The guitar. The piano. And THE LUTE.

And then you get “Fields of Gold” a gentle, yet delicate song that transcends beauty in every pluck of the lute string. But, it’s by Sting, so I’m not allowed to like it.

Quick crib note for anyone paying attention: listening to “The Police” = COOL. Listening to Sting = NOT SO MUCH.

Sorry, Sting.

Seven: Invisible Touch. (Genesis.)InvisibleTouchnew

“She seems to have an invisible touch, YEAH!

She reaches in and grabs right hold of your heart!”

And, with those words, Phil Collins single-handedly destroyed the legacy that was Genesis, forcing Peter Gabriel to go all solo and weird.

But damn if it ain’t catchy.

Six: The Power of Love. (Huey Lewis and the News.)

huey-lewis-and-the-news-the-power-of-loveLet’s get one thing out of the way. Huey Lewis is not cool. Huey Lewis will never be cool. Huey Lewis is the opposite of cool, and the News is just there to reiterate the fact. Having said that…

“The Power of Love” IS cool. Granted, it had the good fortune of appearing in a film (“Back to the Future”) that was and shall always be cool (despite featuring Huey Lewis in a cameo acting – wait for it – uncool) but that doesn’t detract from the fact that this song is an anomaly. It shouldn’t be cool – all power chords and inane lyrics- but it damn well is. Maybe it’s just because I associate it with skateboarding and time travel and Michael J. Fox…all cool, by the way. Whatever it is, it is what it is.


Five: Kiss From a Rose. (Seal.)seal

Another soundtrack song makes the list, and, like “The Power of Love”, maybe I just have fond memories of it due to its association with BATMAN. Albeit, in one of the worst Batman outings ever. It’s grandiose and corny and peppered with stupid lines like “but did you know/when it snows/my eyes become large and the light that you shine can be seen” which is barely even coherent. Whatever though – it was in a BATMAN movie, and Seal could and still can emote like no other. And, since I’m sure this song had at least something to do with his hooking up with Heidi Klum, I can only assume that it’ll work the same for me. Karaoke, here I come!

Four: Karaoke Songs. (Various, but mostly Journey and Bon Jovi.)

Karaoke, here I am!

This entry is less about the act of karaoke as it is about the songs people choose to karaoke with. Songs that you would never find yourself listening to at  home alone, or possibly even at a party, but dump a few cocktails down your throat and throw in a creepy dude with a microphone and songbook on hand, and suddenly you’re singing every damn lyric without even glancing at the screen.

“Living on a Prayer” and “Don’t Stop Believing” are usually the most well documented. For instance:

Yeah. Just like that.

Three: It’s All Coming Back To Me Now. (Celine Dion.)

This is what happens when you give Celine Dion a Meatloaf inspired song attached to a Meatloaf inspired theatrical video:

And it’s AWESOME.

Two: Do You Really Want To Hurt Me. (Culture Club.)

culture club do you really want to hurt me“The Wedding Singer” may have helped this one, but whatever. This song was ALWAYS awesome. It’s a weird song (to say the least) that should probably come off as horrendously creepy, but somehow Boy George manages to sell it legitimately. Nowadays however, with Boy George’s recent drug woes and wrongful imprisonment of male escorts (seriously), the song has achieved a darker tone, and has finally reached its destiny of being the weirdly creepy song we all knew it could be!

One: The Rose. (Bette Midler.)

I’ll let this one speak for itself:the rose

“Some say love it is a river
that drowns the tender reed
Some say love it is a razor
that leaves your soul to bleed

Some say love it is a hunger
an endless aching need
I say love it is a flower
and you it’s only seed

It’s the heart afraid of breaking
that never learns to dance
It’s the dream afraid of wakingthat never takes the chance
It’s the one who won’t be taken
who cannot seem to give
and the soul afraid of dyingthat never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely
and the road has been too long
and you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winterfar beneath the bitter snows
lies the seed
that with the sun’s love
in the spring
becomes the rose”

Was anybody else singing along while reading that? Because god knows I was.

And I honestly don’t even feel that guilty about this one.


That is that. Stay tuned for more blog updates, where I hopefully discuss good music.

Although, seriously…some of these count.

Also, if any of these songs are now stuck in your head – or, god forbid, if ALL of them are stuck in your head, battling it out for supreme annoyingness – I personally shoulder none of the blame.


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

[wipes tear from eye and sputters]
“becomes . . th . . the. . .ro-o-o-o-o-o-o-ose . . .”

may we all find love one day,
the mule

p.s. oh bette! how you done it to me again! you break me, you break me!

Comment by the mule

Errr, umm, actually Lovefool was by the Cardigans….not the Cardinals. Also it has been a LONG time since I’ve heard that song!

Comment by Howie

Shit! Nice catch, Howie! I must have been thinking about baseball when I wrote that…or birds? Thanks for the heads up, and hope you enjoyed the post!

Comment by Luciano Galasso

Wow …this really hits the mark.

Comment by Doc Johnson

[…] song easily could have made my Thirteen Guilty Pleasure Songs You Hate to Love. (Or Love to Hate) list as well. But it didn’t, and luckily it’s found itself a new avenue for infamy on […]

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