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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Guilty Pleasures and Establishment Critics

What IS a "guilty pleasure," anyway? This issue came up for me this week when a friend referred me to Rolling Stone magazine's list of 25 "guilty pleasure" bands.

Now this list has some bands I like, and plenty whose appeal escapes me, but I damn well don't feel "guilty" for liking ELO, the Monkees, ABBA, or Bread. So where did this notion of feeling bad about the music you like come from?

Oh, yes. From rock critics. Intellectually constipated baby-boomer rock critics. From places like Rolling Stone magazine, where Jann Wenner cast his magic spells for years, making sure his pet bands got good reviews (and firing writers who wouldn't comply). It's Wenner who keeps bands he doesn't like out of the ridiculous, overblown Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And it's Wenner whose rag now promotes models, emo bands he can't possibly relate to, and video games--video games!--in a ridiculous attempt to stay hip. Like it was ever hip.

Bozos like RS--and plenty of others--have, for years, been reminding us that nothing was ever as good as it was back in 1969, man, and if you weren't at Woodstock, you didn't rate. Music meant everything then, you see, and those of us who didn't experience that firsthand just don't get it. Janis wasn't just a singer, man--she was a warrior against the bad guys.

Well, then, count me as a counter-revolutionary and give me the biggest rifle, because I'd rather listen to the Monkees (or the Monks, for that matter) than Richie Havens or the Band. The very idea of feeling guilt about a record or band you like because some rock critic says so is the epitome of intellectual fascism. And I say that as someone who has more 60s records in his collection than his shelves can support.

Maybe we'll live to be old enough one day to see all the hoary old baby-boomer favorites--the Grateful Dead, Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, or even the Beatles--on somebody's list of "guilty pleasures." By then, we'll know the worm has turned.

Please feel free to listen, then, to one of my favorite that gives me no guilt to enjoy.


Blogger ann-marie said...

i love the monkees! and i had no idea i was supposed to feel guilty about that. :)

8:38 PM, September 26, 2007

Blogger Crotchbat said...

IMO, hipster-cool killed guilty pleasures. It doesn't exist anymore.

7:58 AM, September 27, 2007

Anonymous duck said...

I don't know where to start. Rush always was at the top of Rolling Stoned's shit list, which is why they're not in the RNR HOF and relegated to "guilty pleasure" status.

But when, exactly, did Rolling Stone decide you're not cool if you listen to pop music? When did they decide you have to like U2, the Pretenders and Steely Dan, so you can't also like Boston, Journey, Eddie Money and Styx?

It's these bozo dipshits like David Fricke who go on tv and say that Def Leppard's Hysteria album is a "classic," when in reality it's no better than their fourth best album.

9:17 AM, September 27, 2007

Blogger Jennifer Kelley said...


I am so tired of having all my fave rave music be considered a "Guilty Pleasure." I have never felt guilty about what I like. Comes from having been teased about being a Monkees fan for, oh, 30 years now.....

And Rolling Stone has for me always been about what's overhyped at the moment-- i.e. if you make the cover of RS then you're about to take that fast plummet back down to oblivion.

9:51 AM, September 27, 2007

Blogger Bob Purse said...

Well, I don't share the disdain for RS - their political reporting and current events has been steller - and anyone who saw through Jim DeRogatis (certainly the worst major newspaper or magazine rock critic I've ever read - the PJ O'Rourke of music writing) can't be all bad.

But the main point here is about guilty pleasures, on which I totally agree. If you like something, it's good. Why on earth would you need to feel bad or embarrassed about liking a song, a group, an album or a genre?

And now, perhaps I need to go have a listen to "Let's Get Together" by Hayley Mills.

10:25 AM, September 27, 2007

Anonymous Dan E said...

Totally agree. In fact, I would rate the Police's "So Lonely" and U2's "Beautiful Day" -- i.e., good songs by bands I hate -- as pleasures far more "guilty" than anything ELO or ABBA ever created.

For the record, DeRogatis wasn't the only writer to get canned for failing to toe the RS party line -- Dave Marsh got booted in the mid-70s for writing that the Stones were just going through the motions on their tour. It's just that DeRo won't let anyone forget that he was
fired for the daring feat of ripping Hootie a new asshole, while
Marsh simply moved on and made a shitload of money writing about Bruce Springsteen.

10:45 AM, September 27, 2007

Blogger Winona said...

Why the hell is RUSH at the top of (or on at all, for that matter) a "guilty pleasure" list?!?! The mind boggles...

I'll just go back to listening to the Monkees, or maybe Hanson (who I'm sure was #26 and barely didn't make the list).

6:42 AM, September 28, 2007

Blogger Anne said...

Amen brother.

12:58 PM, September 28, 2007

Anonymous Amy said...

Aw yeah!!!

I used the analogy of early 70's "American Top 40" as being like Pixie Stix to my ears.

It's sugary and simple but it makes my brain very very happy.

Give me the days when the likes of Carole King, Neil Diamond, and countless others who made their living writing songs for other people to record. Give me those golden, magical days when the "one hit wonder" was really wonderful!

I'll always have a special warm fuzzy fondness for the music from 1970 - 1976 just before the disco movement put a stranglehold on creativity.

These days I listen to music that sounds like it was made by musicians who spent too much time listening to music from 30+ years ago.

The Clientle, Amy Winehouse, The Shins, and Of Montreal just to name a few.

Rolling Stone can go fook themselves and their stupid R&R HOF horseshit

10:42 AM, October 01, 2007

Blogger gjersey said...

If "I'm a Believer" is a guilty pleasure, then Neil Diamond must have been blushing all the way to the bank.

4:48 PM, October 02, 2007

Anonymous capt.blood said...

i have a late 70s copy of the rolling stones record guide. it uses a 5 star system. SGT. PEPPER only gets 4 stars. that alone is enough for a red flag. as an asides, there is a review of don imus' THIS HONKY'S NUTS(thankfully no stars) and some chap named michael bolotin with an album of the same name. could this be you know who before he achieved kenny g/yanni/celinesque fame?

10:34 AM, October 04, 2007

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7:28 PM, October 02, 2017


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