Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Playlist: The 10 Guiltiest POPtimist Pleasures of 2011

I hate calling something a guilty pleasure.  Despite my deep cynicism, I'm a firm believer in poptimism and owning up to the crappy bubble gum noise I enjoy.  I believe that if you like something, you like it.  Yet, in spite of this, with some of the songs listed here, I do actually feel like I'm hiding a shameful secret when I listen to them.  If this isn't the textbook definition of the phrase guilty pleasure, I don't know what is.  Certain artists on this list make me grimace a bit.  Sometimes it's because I can't stand their personas or radio singles, and yet I have that one track or so that I really like listening to every now and then, usually because it wormed its way into my head and hearing it is the only way to exorcise the beast.  Like everyone else on this planet, my pretentious facade can be broken down by a catchy dance hook, for better or worse.    Because I don't really care if you judge me, I now present for your perusal the 10 songs of 2011 that brought the most shame upon my house.  Own up to liking them.  Deal with it.  And dance.

What you don't see here may show up on the full 'best of' list, don't panic.

10. Coldplay ft. Rihanna / "Princess of China"  Seeing as how Coldplay is about as mainstream bland as it gets, it's almost hard to call this poptimism.  They're fairly boring, completely unoffensive, and if you call them a guilty pleasure you sort of just wind up sounding like a total elitist. Unless, of course, you're me and your social group has somehow concocted an elaborate, unfounded inside joke revolving around some latent secret super fandom I have for the band.  I mean, I liked them as much as the next person around the time Rush of Blood to the Head was out, but that phase passed.  But, yes, guys, I did listen to MYLOXYLOTO and no, I have no idea how to pronounce that properly or what the hell it means.  I also don't know what Chris Martin is talking about when he calls Rihanna "the best singer in the world."  Also, I agree that this song has a terrible title.  It's really just awful. Still, I like the shimmery synths.  

9. Avril Lavigne / "What the Hell"  Why does Avril Lavigne still look the same?  How has her style not changed?  Are we not like a decade in the future now?  Why is this still happening?  Is that a commercial in the middle of her music video?  What the hell?  Yes.  Admit it: you liked "Girlfriend" and you like this song.

8. Ke$ha / "Fuck Him He's a DJ"  No, this wasn't a radio single.  I kind of wish it had been.  Instead, it's snuck onto her remix album I Am the Dance Commander + I Command You to Dance, where it wastes time pretending not to be worth listening to very loudly in your car as you tear down the highway.   There were a couple days in the summer where I would play this about three times in a row and revel in its anthemic sleaze.

7. Rihanna / "We Found Love" and "S&M"  For the purpose of this list, we are merging these two songs.  "We Found Love" has fallen into honest favor with a number of critics.  There are more than a few respectable sources who have claimed it to be a legitimately great song worthy of true "best of" status in 2011.  Obviously, I'm not sure I completely agree.  I've grown to like it, as I rather like the raunchy sentiments in "S&M."  Both songs revolve around a very Eurotrashy re petitive buzz bass, a sound that seems to compliment the bleating qualities of Rihanna's vocal range.  Yet, they get old fast...

6. Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera / "Moves Like Jagger"  This song is disgustingly catchy.  Seriously, it's like an infectious disease that's just dripping its slime all over the place.  If Maroon 5 made pop tracks this dancey all the time, I might have to pay more attention to them.  It cannot be denied, even if now the radio plays it every five goddamn minutes.  Do you not love singing "and it goes like this" though? In that sort of half growl? It's a good time. My tiny cousins call the song "Moves Like Cheddar" which sort of makes it even better.

5. LMFAO / "Sexy and I Know It"  LMFAO does not make good songs.  They seem to make purposely bad songs that are really just novelty tracks good for drinking and playing loudly prior to drinking.  We need to all acknowledge that though "Party Rock Anthem" can be fun, that song overstays its welcome by about three full repetitive minutes.  "Sexy and I Know It" isn't much better, but what it lacks in lyrical innovation, it makes up for in absurdity.  How can you not smile at a song that has a refrain of "wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle, yeah"?  No, really. How?  Because I'd like it to stop.

4. Chris Brown ft. Benny Benassi / "Beautiful People"  I would have loved this song without incident at age 17 when I was deep into my house/techno phase.  As it is, I'm rather fond of it.  The guilt here comes from the fact that it's Chris Brown and Chris Brown, in my opinion, still falls on the morally questionable side of things.  As I recall, Rihanna may have forgiven him.  Still...

3. Katy Perry / "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" If I have to explain to you why this is a guilty pleasure, you may be one of the brainwashed masses.  You should get that checked out.  "Last Friday Night" is a rehashing of every sentiment Katy Perry has already written.  It's another checklist of poor decisions made while on the verge of blacking out and thus very similar to "Waking Up in Vegas".  We get it, Katy, those parties were totally crazy!  For some reason, though, I quite enjoy this song.  Amazingly, what I seem to like the most is the cheesy, overtly ironic saxophone break.

2. Eminem ft. P!nk / "Won't Back Down" Ugh. Here's where actual guilt comes in. I don't want to like this song, I really just can't stand Eminem for reasons outlined at length in my after the fact review of 8 Mile over at Love & Squalor.  The rhymes on here are typical of what we expect of Eminem, and occasionally completely, phallocentrically inane.  Yet, while I wish this had been rapped by almost anyone else, this song is fantastic in any number of situations: driving, being angry, trying to exercise (meh), getting amped up for whatever, etc.  While I realize this song is from 2010, I never would have heard it if it hadn't been used in that very well edited Mission Impossible trailer.  Now I can't unhear it, so I just need to accept it...

1. Selena Gomez and the Scene / "Love You Like a Love Song" and "Whiplash"  Is there anything more shameful than Disney Channel pop?  I'm going to vote no.  And that, my friends, is why Selena Gomez -- the girl you may only know as the girlfriend of Justin Bieber -- falls at number one on the Guilty list.

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