First off, there shouldn't be any such thing as a guilty pleasure. Guilt, to quote New Order, is a useless emotion, especially when it comes to popular music. If you like something, own it.
That's somewhat idealistic. In the real world, there are social pressures, signals that communicate preconceived notions of what music we can and can't like. How these break down can tell us a lot about how we see ourselves. Many of the reasons why people end up feeling "guilty" about music involve seemingly arbitrary external constraints. They're actually tied up in the most important conversations we have on a regular basis: arguments about race, gender, sexuality, class, elitism, and education.
What does it mean that so many "guilty pleasures" are populist dance songs? What makes a song "respectable," and who is responsible for making it so? Any way you slice it, we're all a product of our environments—to paraphrase Jim Jones. The trick is to think about why, but before you go and get all deep in your thoughts because you like a Paris Hilton song, understand that we've got your back.
Here are 50 Awesome Guilty Pleasure Songs We're Ashamed to Like (But Not Really). Trust, we "accidentally" leave the radio on the '90s pop station, too.
RELATED: 20 Ridiculous Pop Star Mansions
Spice Girls "Wannabe" (1996)
Album: Spice Girls
Spice Girls had a simple concept on "Wannabe:" if you want to get with the girl, you've got to get down with her friends. No girl wants their dude embarrassing them in front of their homegirls. "If you want my future, forget my past" was the opening line to the female anthem about their wants and needs. It's an amazing song-and was, when the Spice Girls had their peak—but the "zig-a-zig-a" lines and harmonies get old, every time you sing them at karaoke or in the car. -Lauren Nostro
Journey "Don't Stop Believin'" (1981)
Believe it or not, Journey was originally a jazz fusion band with serious snob appeal. Among its founding members were Santana alums Neal Schon on lead guitar and Gregg Rolie on keyboard. But all that changed in 1977 when Steve Perry brought his phenomenally acrobatic voice to the group, and they started to move in a pop direction. By 1981 Journey had jumped the shark, diving into full-frontal pop perfection with their breakthrough album E5C4P3.
Its biggest single was all about "a small town girl living in a lonely world" who takes "the midnight train going anywhere" and hooks up with "a city boy born and raised in South Detroit" (incidentally there is no such neighborhood as South Detroit, but let's not ruin the vibe). "Don't Stop Believin" went on to become one of the biggest-selling iTunes catalog tracks of all time, in part because it was featured prominently in the last scene of the final episode of The Sopranos. Every time this one plays you just want to hold on to that feeling. -Rob Kenner
Taylor Swift "I Knew You Were Trouble." (2012)
Amy Grant "Baby Baby" (1991)
Album: Heart In Motion
The curly-haired sweetheart of '80s Christian pop reinvented herself as the curly-haired sweetheart of mainstream pop when she dropped her decidedly secular LP Heart In Motion in 1991. The album's sunny smash single "Baby Baby" was bigger than Jesus, hitting number one on Billboard and picking up Grammy nominations for Record and Song of the Year. Only Satan himself would be able to resist the bouncy synth track and Amy's wide-eyed declarations of love: "Stop for a minute-baby, I'm so glad you're mine." Whenever you're feeling down, pop Cole's Extreme Mix Volume 5 in your tape deck and get ratchet. -Brendan Frederick
Haddaway "What Is Love" (1993)
It may be hard to hear this song and not feel like dancing. But it's impossible to hear this song, start dancing, and then not feel like a sleazy douchebag who puts on too much cologne and hair spray. Granted, we probably didn't feel that way when it first came out: It was a worldwide hit and lit up dance clubs everywhere. What really ruined this song (and made us feel so damn guilty) was those SNL skits "Roxbury Guys" and the eventual film A Night at the Roxbury.
Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan's characters (and their outfits) perfectly captured the kind of sleazy douchebag who loves this song and isn't afraid to show it. In our private moments-when this song is playing in our headphones while we mop our house-and the beat breaks down, sounding like magnets rhythmically contracting, we thrust our hips like a robot humping a dryer and know that our inner loser has been unleashed. We opened our eyes to look for the nearest sloppy drunk girl whose vagina is flapping out of her dress, but alas it's just our roommate recording us on their phones. Yes, the struggle is real. -Insanul Ahmed
Vanessa Carlton "A Thousand Miles" (2002)
Album: Be Not Nobody
Ask any sensitive thug, and they'll tell you they fucked with Vanessa Carlton's " A Thousand Miles." It was the long distance relationship anthem, and if you weren't in a long distance relationship, the song was so good you wish were in one so you could relate more. The hook "You know I'd walk 1000 miles, if I could just see you...tonight" flooded college girls away messages and on the low college guys' Winamps. Sonically, Carlton's piano work was awesome and the video made it that much better. It's a guilty pleasure that we barely feel guilty about liking. -Joe La Puma
Belinda Carlisle "Heaven is a Place on Earth" (1987)
Album: Heaven on Earth
"Heaven Is a Place on Earth" was nominated for a damn Grammy and it still makes this list. It's the catchiest, most bumping' '80s track of all time. It's been in so many movies-hello, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion-that it's never been unbearable to listen to, at least for '90s babies who only know the hype of it from pop culture. Disclaimer: it's "Oh, Heaven" and not "Blue Heaven" for all of those trying to sing along to the love ballad that falls over the infectious chiming bells and beat. -Lauren Nostro
Taking Back Sunday "Cute Without The E" (2002)
Album: Tell All Your Friends
If you're going through a dark period, sometimes the best remedy is to revel in the angsty tunes of your youth. Taking Back Sunday's "Cute Without The E" is perhaps the best choice for such a decision. The song is everything you don't want to be now that you've grown up: bitter, jealous, annoying. Still, the pain on wax here is more than authentic, and it connects, even years later when you feel a bit cheesy for relating to it so much. —Ernest Baker
Barenaked Ladies "One Week" (1998)
"One Week" is polarizing. You might be at a party and have the bright idea to plug your iPod in and crank it, but you know that only one of two things can and will happen as a result: everyone will put their arms around each other and sing along, or they'll all groan and leave the room to beer bong in the yard.
It's inescapable, two white Canadian men rapping in ill-fitting suits to acoustic guitars is either going to be completely endearing, or annoying as hell. But if we're being honest, Ed Robertson kind of killed it on the lyricism and delivery. The speed at which he spits "I like vanilla, it's the finest of the flavors/Gotta see the show, 'cause then you'll know/The vertigo is gonna grow/'Cause it's so dangerous, you'll have to sign a waiver" is enough to get Twista's attention. That might be hyperbolic but it certainly caught ours, as the combination of Robertson's rapping and the myriad cultural references (X-Files, Sailor Moon, Swiss Chalet, LeeAnn Rimes, Sting, Snickers) throughout the song landed "One Week" at the top of the Billboard charts for, well, one week.
Despite its performance on the charts, "One Week" spiralled into the category of "novelty ditty," but remains a major part of the late nineties zeitgeist nonetheless. -Alysa Lechner
Paris Hilton "Stars Are Blind" (2006)
We all knew better than to take Paris Hilton seriously as a pop star. We also knew better than to pretend like her debut single, "Stars Are Blind," wasn't fire. The song was like a tropical escape from her tabloid headline persona. Instead, you had what seemed liked sincere emotions from the socialite incorporated into a ridiculously well-written record, over spot-on production. "Stars Are Blind" was a flash in the pan, a fluke, but an incredible one. We'll never get something like this from Paris Hilton again. It's perhaps her greatest contribution to society. —Ernest Baker
The All-American Rejects "Swing, Swing" (2002)
Album: The All-American Rejects
Maybe it was singer Tyson Ritter's cheekbones, or his blue eyes, or the fact that we were likely under the age of 16 and really into power pop when the song came out, but something about "Swing, Swing" was all consuming. The lyrics are simple to understand; he's heartbroken, but will probably move on. However, it is precisely this universal experience that makes the song amazing. Ritter manages to make female listeners want to be both the girl who did him wrong, and the one he moves on to. In other words, the track fulfils fantasies of being both pined over and put in a position to console a guy through a rough time.
"Swing, Swing" may be hovering near "Someone Like You" as far as breakup ballads, but at least the latter has a legitimate British accent. On lines like, "Did you think that I would cry on the phone?/Do you know what it feels like being alone?" Ritter's voice treads a fine line between maybe having a cold, and fake-Madonna-British. The worst part? We kind of like it. -Alysa Lechner
Britney Spears "Lucky" (2000)
Album: Oops!...I Did It Again
Once upon a time, before the shaved-head incident and the backup dancer baby daddy, Britney Spears's life was actually enviable. She was a pop princess dating a boy band prince, had a ridiculously hot body and still bore resemblance to the innocent schoolgirl we all felt ashamed to lust after. This song, an instant pop hit sharing album space with arguably her most iconic song to date, "Oops!... I Did It Again", foreshadowed that life at the top of the pop charts was all about mastering a façade, and keeping up an act of impermeability while exceeding expectations would be difficult to maintain.
Not that any of us could even fathom a public life in the crosshairs of ravenous paparazzi, but this song, however riddled with classic repeat-after-me singalong pop-bait, spoke to each of us that knew our lives were messier behind closed doors. Whether you were the stereotypical prom king or the stoner loner, you loved this song because, at the end of the day, "Lucky" was pure angst hiding behind a white picket fence ready to crumble. Case in point: the year 2007, when she lost her shit and self-inflicted baldness on purpose. This song, though, still knocks. -Brianne Garcia
City High "What Would You Do?" (2001)
Album: City High
Look, times are tough, and people got to do what they got to do, but City High doesn't want you to act all crazy, resorting to stripping or even prostitution to make some money. "What Would You Do?" tells a "true story" about a girl named Loni, whose back is against the wall and is desperate to feed her son after his father abandoned them for a life of drugs and prison. City High may be a one-hit wonder, but what a hit it was. "What Would You Do?" peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100, and even features a sample of Dr. Dre's "The Next Episode." The chorus, beginning with the songs title, has outlived the R&B trio themselves by some measure. Try breaking out the song or blurting out the hook's first line and see how many people join you in unison. Good times and what you call life don't have to be mutually exclusive after all.-Ted Simmons
New Kids On The Block "Please Don't Go Girl" (1988)
Album: Hangin' Tough
NKOTB is often ridiculed for being a whitewashed version of New Edition and setting the blueprint for the unbearably corny boy band pop explosion of the late '90s. Both of these things are true. But amongst all their flavorless New Jack Swing interpolations and raps about Santa Claus, there's no denying that the New Kids had one moment of true pop perfection, the irresistibly passionate ballad "Please Don't Go Girl."
Sung from the gut by 16-year-old Joey McEntyre about a year before his voice changed, this is the song that finally put the Boston teens on the map after their first album flopped. "Please Don't Go Girl" holds up extremely well today, thanks to its sparse drum machine production and beautifully simple songwriting by the group's svengali, Maurice Starr. One could make the case that it's basically a rip-off of New Edition's "Is This The End?" (also written and produced by Starr), but sometimes the remake is better than the original. -Brendan Frederick
Lindsay Lohan "Over" (2004)
Wilson Phillips "Hold On" (1990)
Album: Wilson Phillips
You know that scene in Harold & Kumar where they lose it while listening to this song? It's funny because all of us can relate. People act like "Hold On" wasn't a multi-platinum No. 1 hit. There was a time when Wilson Phillips was, statistically speaking, the hottest group out. You can still see the ripple effects of their run today when this song stops you in your tracks when the grocery store's adult contemporary playlist shifts to it. However guilty it makes you feel is irrelevant. "Hold On" is and forever will be a massive jam. —Ernest Baker
Yellowcard "Ocean Avenue" (2004)
Album: Ocean Avenue
There's nothing tweens love more than some good old fashioned nostalgia. And Yellowcard's "Ocean Avenue" delivers a healthy dose of it. The street that the song is named after, Ocean Avenue, is a street in Jacksonville, Florida, where the band grew up. Rather than yearning for a particular person, "Ocean Avenue" aches for a time and place. So lyrics that on the surface seem targeted toward a specific individual-"There's a piece of you that's here with me/It's everywhere I go, it's everything I see/When I sleep, I dream and it gets me by"-are actually pining for a feeling.
It's impossible to not shift your shoulders to the guitar riffs, and the drums are insane. Oh right, and there's a fiddler in the band, so there's that. We're not going to front, it's easy to forget about this song, but once you find it, things get better. -Alysa Lechner
Boston "More Than A Feeling" (1976)
1976 was a very good year in America. Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford in the presidential election, the USA was celebrating its bicentennial, and the guitar-shaped spaceship logo of a band called Boston was first spotted in record stores across the country. They debut album from the band that first formed as students at MIT went on to sell 17 million copies, on the strength of singles "Long Time," "Peace of Mind," and most of all "More Than a Feeling."
Tom Scholz's air-guitar-inducing solos and Brad Delp's over-the-top vocals were shamelessly melodramatic, defining the sound of power pop-rock that bands like REO Speedwagon and Journey would emulate in years to come. But nothing touches this navel-gazing ode to lost loves and the self-indulgent pleasure of cranking up the volume, sipping a can of beer, and feeling just a little bit sorry for yourself. "When I'm tired and thinking cold/I hide in my music, forget the day/and dream of a girl I used to know/I closed my eyes and she slipped away." Rock on. -Rob Kenner
Hilary Duff "So Yesterday" (2003)
Lizzie McGuire can do no wrong. "So Yesterday" was born out of an attempt to have Hilary Duff make a smooth transition from Disney star to mature young adult. It deals with the theme of breaking up and moving on to a point where your ex becomes-you guessed it-so yesterday. Accompanied by mildly angry guitar riffs, Duff is almost too sweet to be on a "screw you" track, but we sort of like it that way. Her cuteness is only further confirmation that she is totally cool with the breakup. The only thing worse than a psychotic ex is one who doesn't care about you enough to even hate you a little bit. Kind of bad bitch, no? -Alysa Lechner
David Archuleta "Crush" (2008)
Album: David Archuleta
Play this song really low in your headphones in crowded places. But seriously, it's awesome. The pint-sized David Archuleta may not have won American Idol, but he made a hell of a song with "Crush." The love ballad which displays strong falsetto and a catchy chorus you'll probably sing in the shower was released in 2008, years before the re-emergence of the boy bands that we saw in 2012 with One Direction and The Wanted. "Crush" also debuted at number two on the Billboard 200-an impressive feat for someone who didn't even win American Idol.You're never #2 in our hearts, David. -Joe La Puma
Modern English "I Melt With You" (1982)
Album: After the Snow
This upbeat new-wave pop hit recorded by some British one-hit-wonders should be played at every high-school prom, if only because of its seductive power. What better way to sum up the grandiosity of teenage romance than to promise that you'll "stop the world" and "melt with" your chick? As if to seal the deal, there's a dramatic break-down/bridge about how "the future's open wide." That's not the only thing that's gonna be open wide. -Rob Kenner
Avril Lavigne "What the Hell" (2011)
Album: Goodbye Lullaby
Avril is a musical and cultural chameleon. Anyone who can pull off a tie and Dickies and evolve to bleach blonde hair with pink streaks is cool in our books. "What The Hell" could possibly speak to this artistic evolution. Upon its release, Avril had been in the game for almost a decade, had married and publicly divorced Sum 41 singer, Derek Whibley, and was having a bit of a tumultuous time with her label. "What The Hell"-one of Avril's poppiest ventures-unearths her new careless attitude. She's hooking up with multiple guys, going out until the sun rises, and ultimately finding independence and freedom from a life she wasn't happy with. We're sorry she went through a rough time, but at least we got this totally guiltless pop punk anthem out of it. -Alysa Lechner
Smash Mouth "All Star" (1999)
Album: Astro Lounge
Somebody once told me that if you make a song a major part of an awesome movie it'll stay stuck in your head for days and days until you must succumb to it's audio prowess. At least, that's what happened with Smash Mouth's "All Star." Originally it was used for the huge flop of a film, Mystery Men, (which would explain why the music video is so star studded) and became a hit on it's own. But we didn't really begin to appreciate it until DreamWorks made it apart of the kid's classic, Shrek. Like the rest of Smash Mouth's catalog, "All Star" had a retrofitted appeal. It's the kind of record that was a Radio Disney smash but didn't have the sparkly sheen of a Britney Spears or N'SYNC record. In other words, it was pure pop without the teenie bop packaging. You sing along, but know that it's feeble in the same way your dad is-out of touch but hey, it's hip to be sqaure. -Insanul Ahmed
Backstreet Boys "As Long As You Love Me" (1997)
Album: Backstreet Boys
There's that scene in "Girls" where Lena Dunham is all, "I want to be happy but I never realized it" and starts crying while coming to the realization that she is, in fact, very lonely. That's the feeling you get when you hear Aaron Carter belt out "All the loneliness has always been a friend of mine" and you agree, nod your head, and reminisce on how lonely you have been since the Backstreet Boys stopped making music. Unfortunately, the Backstreet Boys were never lonely and "As Long As You Love Me" was actually the Boys singing about giving zero fucks about their girl's past, present, and problems as long as she loves them. Because, well, love solves all problems.
It's become a guilty pleasure for one reason, and one reason only: Aaron Carter is grown now (Isn't he on Broadway these days?) and AJ McLean is married. Why, you ask? Because at the height of everyone's Backstreet Boy fandom, girls wanted to be with them, and boys wanted to be them. Denying it? There is, without a doubt, a huge part of the male population that once sang "As Long As You Love" me into the mirror while imitating the dance moves from the video filmed at LAX. Now, we look at them as child stars of the past when we click 'Private Session' on Spotify but believe us, we're all still listening. -Lauren Nostro
Incubus "Pardon Me" (2000)
Album: Make Yourself
Incubus added to the early 2000s fad known as rap-rock by combining different genres and tempos to help define the sound of the moment. If Linkin Park was a little too mainstream and aggressive for you, Incubus offered an alternative, with lead singer Brandon Boyd's smooth, Cali-colored vocals.
But "Pardon Me" has Incubus taking an edgier approach. Before releasing their melodic smash "Drive," the band broke onto the scene with "Pardon Me," their first single to gain public attention. And what better way to blow up than with a song about spontaneous combustion? With the mellow intro, frantic lyrics, DJ scratches, and hard rocking chorus, we don't feel the need to excuse ourselves for liking this one. Haters can burst into flames. -Ted Simmons
Hot Chelle Rae "Tonight, Tonight" (2011)
This song is parasitic. As soon as those opening piano notes penetrate your ears, you're doomed. Despite "Tonight, Tonight" being one of the most sonically catchy songs you'll find yourself humming during an awkward first date, its lyrics are nursery rhyme easy. Any song that includes "whatever" and "doesn't matter" as punchlines in a chorus otherwise comprised of "woah oh oh" is a song that you essentially have no choice in not knowing by heart.
The track peaked at number 7 on the Billboard charts, and its sales exceeding 2,000,000 earned it double platinum status. Sure it's simple and watered down, but that's the best part and precisely why it was the summer anthem of 2011. Not to mention any song that condones a YOLO lifestyle is fine by us. -Alysa Lechner
Shontelle "T-Shirt" (2008)
Shontelle's "T-Shirt" is an R&B ballad about being a very strong woman who is going through some very serious heartache. The song, overall, is catchy, cute, and simple, and while it fits right in with the overall vibes of 2008 R&B/pop ballads from Rihanna and other artists alike, the lyrics are so basic that it makes singing along to the song sound pretty pathetic. "Curl up in a ball with something Hanes/In bed I lay/With nothing but your T-shirt on." Hanes? In a chorus? We get the concept but how can we belt this out with lyrics like that? -Lauren Nostro
Ke$ha "We R Who We R" (2010)
You can front and pretend you don't like Ke$ha, but when the light show is rolling and the bass is bumping in the club, you'll be exposed. Maybe you don't have glitter on your eyes, or ripped stockings, but good money says that when "We R Who We R" comes on, you've got your hands raised high and your knees ready to jump.
What makes Ke$ha so undeniable is her consistency and self awareness. She's trying to make club bangers, and she succeeds time and time again. Simple, infections hooks, thumping electro beats, altered vocals; Ke$ha knows who she is, and you know she's good at it. So give up the act and let loose. This is party music, after all. -Tannis Spencer
Simply Red "Something Got Me Started" (1991)
The Steve "Silk" Hurley remix of "Something Got Me Started" became something of a club hit at the time, but the original version was kind of banging in its own right. With a catchy, piano-laden melody, the song isn't much different from numerous pop house hits made during the period-except that it was created by the oft-derided UK group Simply Red, and lead singer Mick Hucknell resembles the yoga teacher who tries to steal your girlfriend, down to his dangling star pendant and luminous ponytail. His dance moves in the music video are a special brand of extravagant. But as guilty as it might make you feel to enjoy the strains of a song performed by a guy who looks like he collects different strands of flavoured [sic] incense, the song has a sincerity that grabs the heart. -David Drake
Limp Bizkit "Nookie" (1999)
Album: Significant Other
Hindsight is 20/20, and in retrospect, "Nookie" is not that great of a song, but damnit if it isn't timestamped with nostalgia to the max. Listen back and you can envision your teen self unleashing all that angst, blasting Limp Bizkit at 2:30 p.m. because you're home from school and the house is empty.
Say the word "Nookie" now, though, and you'll sound like a chump. Sort of how Fred Durst sounds rapping a retaliation record at an ex who scorned him. She can stick her cookie up her - yeah? Quite profound. The good news is that "Nookie" will forever carry the same association for you for the rest of your life. Nothing's gonna change. -Tannis Spencer
Miley Cyrus "7 Things" (2008)
Everyone has seven things that they hate about their men, even Miley Cyrus at 16 years old had a checklist of all of the irritating things she could finally take out on her ex (aka Joe Jonas). "7 Things" is very beautiful but so corny-it used to be played in between Disney Channel TV shows. But when Miley goes off on that guitar riff, it's over. We all think "Party in the U.S.A." was Miley's greatest hit but we're wrong-we all like that because we could sing it in public because it's cool in that "We're all trolling but this is cool but also, this chorus is so stupid. Does she even know a Jay-Z song?" Answer: she didn't at the time. "7 Things" is the hidden gem of that era of Miley-you know, years before she released videos of herself tweaking and posting photos of herself in the studio with Pharrell and Mike WiLL Made It. -Lauren Nostro
Jordy "Dur Dur D'être Bébé!" (1992)
Bruno Mars "Locked Out of Heaven" (2012)
Album: Unorthodox Jukebox
The first time "Locked Out Of Heaven" played, everyone questioned whether that was a new Sting song, or a deep cut from one of his older albums. It was, in fact, Bruno Mars, and after watching him perform live with Sting at the VMA's, the song didn't seem so bad after all. In fact, it's catchy guitar-riffs and Bruno's admittedly phenomenal voice on the track makes it catchy, and overall, a solid track-especially in comparison to his pop song choices. Yes, he sounds like Sting, but it doesn't make the song worse in any way. -Lauren Nostro
Hawthorne Heights "Ohio is For Lovers" (2004)
Album: The Silence in Black and White
"Ohio is for Lovers" is everything a guilty pleasure song should be. No one wants to admit to liking the strained pop-punk vocals, and even less will vouch for the scremo that's supposed to balance them out. Emo lyrics like "Cut my wrists and black my eyes, so I can fall asleep tonight, or die," are either plastered on the back of a Hot Topic shirt and worn proudly or buried away deep in the recesses of your mind.
In a way though, the Hawthorne Heights song is simple encapsulation of the scene that bred it. There was a day where rockers could have their wounds and lick them too. And if you ever had your heart broken circa 2004, chances are you felt the pain these Ohio boys sung about. -Ted Simmons
John Mayer "Split Screen Sadness" (2003)
Album: Heavier Things
Heavier Things, Mayer's second album, is not John Mayer's best album. That distinction belongs to the bluesey sound of 2006's Continuum. But, the album marks Mayer's journey from his breathy, bedroom whispers on "Your Body Is a Wonderland" to a more meaningful sound. Still, Split Screen Sadness is the type of song written for young girls who intend to wallow in melodramatic grief and cry off their mascara to. With wail-worthy lyrics like, ""All you need is love" is a lie 'cause we had love, but we still said goodbye," the ballad quickly became an anthem for anyone who'd been recently dumped, and/or had dumped someone and wanted to feign sensitivity when they were already off boning someone new. These things happen. Listening to this makes it better. If John says, "two wrongs make it all alright tonight," we believe him. Or at least, we're going to play this in the privacy of our apartment until we do. -Shante Cosme
Andrea True "More More More" (1976)
Album: More, More, More
Say what you will about Andrea True, but she lived a pretty amazing life. Born in Nashville, she moved to NYC with dreams of becoming an actress that faded into the reality of making porn. She spent years doing adult films but while in Jamaica she called up record producer Gregg Diamond to make a record. The song they made was "More More More" which became a huge dance smash in the disco era filled with dance records. The record actually alludes to True's past with lines like, "Get the cameras rolling/Get the action going." The song has been surprisingly resilient throughout the years, as it's been used in numerous movies, shows, ads, etc.
None of this is why we feel guilty about liking this song, in fact it just makes us like it more. What makes us feel guilty is enjoying Andrea True's singing since she had a voice as weak as streched out melted mozzarella. On the track, she struggled to keep up with the beat. When she gets drowned out by the band during the verses we're just happy Simon Cowell wasn't around to see it or he would have probably thrown his strategically placed Coca Cola cup at her. And yet, it's still one of the catchiest tunes ever thanks in large part to it's flawless hook. And we can't help but think if a better singer had sung the song it probably would have lost most of it's charm. She might not have had the most talent, but Andrea True found a way to get by. RIP. -Insanul Ahmed
Kitty Pryde "Okay Cupid" (2012)
How many thinkpieces on "authenticity" did you read because of this song? If you answered "a lot," then you are right. People were mad about this song. They were mad about its lyrics, and they were mad about its lyricist. Subscribers of hip hop just couldn't get over the fact that an adorable white girl was beating at their own game even though she was just playing for fun since the beginning.
Kitty (who has since swallowed her Pryde) drowsily weaves through tales of her boyfriend's drunk dials, negging, and cigarette breath over an even drowsier beat, but manages to be remain utterly captivating for its almost 3 minute length. If it's a crime to like this song, then we are guilty as charged, but the only way we could imagine anyone hating "Okay Cupid" is because they didn't think to write it first. -Alysa Lechner
Pitbull "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)" (2009)
We're not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point Pitbull said, "Fuck this rap shit, pop is where the money is at." He abandoned his street wise rhymes, threw on an all white suit, and decided to make "I'm in Miami bitch!" Music. What did hip-hop care if Pitbull went astray, it's not like he was ever gonna be the best rapper alive anyhow. Little did we know, he was about to become a bigger star than we'd ever imagined, one who only used the pesky "rapper" label when it was convenient. He made a series of hits that we barely noticed because they didn't get posted on blogs or get spins on Hot 97.
By the time "I Know You Want Me" came out it was a moment of, "Wait, the guy who made raps in Spanish on DJ Khaled songs has a smash!" Every girl at the club wanted to bust their fake merengue moves to this tune, with it's horns that sound like a marching band at Carnival meets Puerto Rican Day parade in NYC. Still, Pitbull's verses were terrible and includes lines like, "Watch him make a movie like Albert Hitchcock." (We think you mean Alfred Pit) What made it worse is that hook is has that whiff of delusional arrogance ("I know you want me") mixed with the worst pickup line ever ("You know I want cha!") but is still catchy enough to work. So why fight it? Put your drink down and sing along. Rumba (eh!) Rumba (eh!) -Insanul Ahmed
The Rocket Summer "So Much Love" (2007)
Album: Do You Feel
There were pop rock/boy bands of the mid-'00s and then there was The Rocket Summer, who, for fans of Something Corporate, Relient K, and Cute Is What We Aim For, came out past that peak. Here's the kicker about The Rocket Summer-it sounds like a bunch of dudes singing with spiked hair and maybe some killer clothes from the sales rack of Hot Topic, but it is just one dude. Props to him for playing every instrument and singing every note-but it's high-pitched, annoying, and everything we want in a corny love song. -Lauren Nostro
Kelly Clarkson "Since U Been Gone" (2004)
If your bedroom wasn't in shambles at one time or another because you were re-enacting this song's music video, you're doing it wrong. "Since U Been Gone" was originally written with P!nk in mind, who passed on it. Then it was peddled to Hilary Duff, who couldn't hit the high notes. It's fate that it landed in Kelly Clarkson's throat, because we couldn't imagine anyone else yelling at us about how awesome it is to not be with 'that guy' anymore. The only kind of shameful thing about this song is that for its lyrics to truly transcend your emotions, you have to admit that you liked someone who didn't like you back. But so what? It happens to everyone. And take it from us, there's nothing guilty about indulging in those feelings with a Grammy winning song. -Alysa Lechner
Snow "Informer" (1992)
Album: 12 Inches of Snow
Who knew that when Canada reformed its immigration policies in an effort to promote multiculturalism, it would result in the best selling reggae single in US history? Thanks to those changes, there was a larger Jamaican population in Canada which would probably explain how Toronto native Darrin Kenneth O'Brien ended up with Jamaican neighbors who introduced him to reggae music and give him the nickname, Snow.
Years later, Snow met Jamaican-born DJ Marvin Prince and they teamed up before eventually meeting MC Shan in New York. All of this cumulated into the smash hit "Informer," which spent seven straight weeks at the top of Billboard in 1992. Now, you might crack jokes about the funky white boy who spit hyperfast rhymes but remember: The song didn't just call out snitches, it was rooted in O'Brein's real life after he served time for an assault charge.
Context aside, we still felt like terrible cornballs for liking a song where we had absolutely no idea what the dude was saying beyond "In-forrr-ma" and umm..."I lick you boom boom there." Snow spun words fast enough to leave Bone Thugs envious, but you can't help but feel like you're engaging in cultural appropriation when the only reggae song you know is sung by a white dude from America Jr. -Insanul Ahmed
New Radicals "You Get What You Give" (1998)
Album: Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too
Back before bucket hats went out of style then came back, the New Radicals owned the airwaves with their feel-good track "You Get What You Give." With the industry full of manufactured teenage pop stars, the New Radicals were refreshing, crafting an irrefutable pop hit.
The success of the band was short lived though, and their one big record came with some controversy. The closing lines took some shots at other musical acts Beck, Hanson, Courtney Love, and Marilyn Manson. Lead singer Gregg Alexander has said the beef was bait. He prefaces his high-profile disses with more politically charged commentary, which he correctly assumed would be ignored by the media if he name dropped at the same time. The lesson here is if you give it all, people will choose what to get. -Tannis Spencer
Mike Posner "Cooler Than Me" (2010)
Album: 31 Minutes to Takeoff
In his debut single, Posner laments about a girl with a superiority complex who wears oversized sunglasses. He assumes she thinks she is cooler than him, and repeats this sentiment several times. We have seen Mike Posner, and this is likely true.
Men can play this song when they anticipate getting shutdown to dull the impending pain, and women can play it when they wake up feeling like a bad bitch, and want the world to know it. Everyone should play it in private, lest anyone overhear and fear they've been transported back to the summer of 2011. -Shante Cosme
Jamiroquai "Virtual Insanity" (1996)
Album: Travelling Without Moving
Before Robin Thicke hit the scene with his debut single "When I Get You Alone" and Justin Timberlake dropped Justified, Jamiroquai's lead singer Jay Kay was arguably the funkiest white dude on the scene. His 1996 single "Virtual Insanity" offered a refreshingly soulful sound and his lyrics read almost like a prophecy for the impending decade. "We always seem to be governed by this love we have for useless, twisting new technology?" Sounds like an eerily accurate description for 2013, doesn't it? Even back then, we knew "Virtual Insanity" was some next level shit. That giant Dr. Suess hat Kay wore in the video was a sure sign. -Shante Cosme
Ini Kamoze "Here Comes the Hotstepper" (1994)
Album: Lyrical Gangster
Nah, na na na nah. Na na na nah, na na nahhhh...okay, fine. Anyone who calls himself a "lyrical gangster" basically just admitted to being a studio thug and shouldn't be taken seriously. But in the dancehall world, Ini Kamoze was well-respected way before he topped the US charts. He had a couple of classics under his belt like "World a Music (Out In The Streets They Call It Merther)" (you'll recognize his voice being sampled on Damian Marley's "Welcome To Jamrock") as well as the original "Hot Stepper." However, the better known "Here Comes The Hotstepper" was produced by frequent Nas collaborator Salaam Remi and sampled a variety of records including Slick Rick's "La Di Da Di" and Isaac Hayes' "Hung Up on My Baby," becoming an unexpected crossover victory for the veteran artist.
The song also became a staple of fashion shows in the '90s after being used in the poorly received Robert Altman film about the fashion industry, Prêt-à-Porter (which translates to Ready To Wear). The appeal to the record is probably rooted in its breakbeat rhythm. And even though what Kamoze was singing about was a mystery to us (Seriously, who's Rico?) and despite his penchant for cheesy phrases better suited for TGIF sitcoms ("Ch-ch-chang-chang!") we forgave him because his voice had a familiar ring to it, like an uncle who visited too often. Sadly, Kamoze never scored any American hits after this one and is essentially remembered as a one-hit wonder. There goes that hot stepper. -Insanul Ahmed
Cathy Dennis "Irresistible" (1992)
Album: Into The Skyline
Forgotten UK dance-pop star Cathy Dennis had a few major hits from her 1991 album Move to This, from 1989's "C'mon and Get My Love" (with D Mob) to 1991's "Touch Me (All Night Long)," her highest-charting hit (no. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100). Dennis' star had begun to dim with the release of her second album, Into the Skyline; both of its singles reached the Hot 100, but "Irresistible" didn't even make it past no. 61, even with the ever-present airplay this writer recalls at the time. The song didn't get too much serious attention. But the vulnerability of its devotion gave it a cheery, gum-snapping flirtatiousness that stood the test of time. In fact, Dennis would make a virtual career out of similarly coy, sexually subtle come-ons: she wrote "Can't Get You Out of My Head" and "Come Into My World" for Kylie MInogue, and even won a Grammy for Britney Spears' "Toxic." -David Drake
Gym Class Heroes "Viva la White Girl" (2006)
Album: As Cruel As School Children
Gym Class Heroes came and went without many people noticing (aside from Katy Perry). "Cupid's Chokehold" had its fair share of mainstream airplay, but much of the band's remaining catalog went unnoticed by the masses. For the most part, no FOMO to be had there, but "Viva la White Girl" is the exception to the rule. Upon first listen, the song seems to be about cocaine, but upon further listening, is actually about the intoxicating affect of music on its listener. Any way you listen, the song floats around the key players of a lifestyle we've put on a pedestal for decades: fame, fortune, money, girls and drugs. So what if the lead singer is a tatted-up, tween-romanticized borderline boy band member. If you're not worried about neighboring cars throwing judgmental shade your way, this song is best listened to with windows down. -Brianne Garcia
Don Omar f/ Lucenzo "Danza Kuduro" (2010)
Album: Meet the Orphans
If you've never watched the video for "Danza Kuduro," do so right now and then read this. The acting is A+ for most entertainingly difficult to watch-Don calls Lucenzo, Lucenzo tells Don he's back in town, and lucky for Lucenzo-Don't already on his way to pick him up! What a psychic. The song itself is nothing but a club banger-it has over 433 million views on YouTube-and it's an addicting reggaeton gem that we want to play over, and over, and over again. Kuduro, a style of dancing and singing from Angola, is something we scream-while clapping our hands-throughout the entire song. It's a guilty pleasure because it can be played back-to-back so many times, you don't want people looking through your play count. -Lauren Nostro
The Pack "Candy" (2007)
Album: Based Boys
This song contains an utterly hilarious interpolation of Lesley Gore's 1963 hit, "It's My Party." The only thing: "Pussy" is substituted for "Party" and the entire thing goes downhill from there. It's a crass record, but wholly enjoyable in the right context—that context being nights when you're feeling particularly ratchet. Thank you Based God. —Ernest Baker
Britney Spears f/ Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha "Til The World Ends (Femme Fatale Remix)" (2011)
Album: Femme Fatale
Just when you thought Britney's 2011 hit "Til The World Ends" couldn't get better than her scandalous sewer punk chic ensemble in the video, the femme fatale remix dropped. In addition to an opening rap that features Nicki Minaj eviscerating her haters by comparing them to fried chicken, Ke$ha adds a grittier sound to the chorus, and there's even a heavy dubstep breakdown 3 1/2 minutes in. Was it necessary? No, but dubstep rarely is. Embrace the excess and the impending apocalypse (there's always one on the horizon) by playing this loud and dancing shamelessly, almost as if taunting the gods. -Shante Cosme