Guilty Pleasures

The “guilty pleasure” is one of music listening’s most odd and sometimes interesting terms. People like something, but people don’t want anyone else to know. It’s embarassing for a 35 year old, burly man to like Britney Spears or whatever, or for some mild-mannered soccer mom to headbang to Suffocation.

Of course the concept of a guilty pleasure is pretty dumb. People should, in an ideal world, just like what they like and not have any expectations or judgments from society attached to it. And in the modern age a lot of people spend so much time ripping dissenting opinions apart that it’s almost a strength to just express one’s own tastes without giving a damn what anyone else thinks of it. Being affected by any negative thoughts others might have of my music taste is not a thing I can really afford to carry around.

I do have a handful of things that could be thought of as guilty pleasures. They aren’t all that deep or shocking, and only one gives me some hesitantcy to admit. And even that I’m past the point of caring about. Here’s a handful of my “guilty” pleasures, which being real, I don’t feel guilty about at all.

Bon Jovi

I’ve mentioned before that Slippery When Wet was the first album I really ever owned. I still very much enjoy Bon Jovi, especially the 80’s output and some of the stuff from the 2000’s. (No, I’m really not into what they did in the 90’s.)

The conflict of interest comes from metalheads who can’t fathom enjoying something as, well, not metal and as popular and mainstream as Bon Jovi. I’ve caught a fair bit of shit for expressing my interest in the band. I don’t know how I’m supposed to care – I did not disavow rock music when I got into heavy metal. I didn’t take a dark oath to only listen to self-released demos from black metal bands recorded on a Fischer-Price tape deck in the lead singer’s bathroom. I will listen to that, but I’ll also listen to You Give Love A Bad Name.

Hall and Oates

This one seems to throw people off a lot. I love Hall and Oates, I always have. Their big hits in the 80’s were in constant rotation as I was exploring music as a youth. They aren’t an act that I chase down every release or anything (there’s a lot and they’ve covered a lot of musical ground) but I still very much enjoy H&O and I feel very not guilty about it.

For some reason I don’t catch much shit from metalheads about this one. It’s because many of them also like Hall and Oates. It’s other people who do like them who wonder what this crusty dude in an Iron Maiden t-shirt is doing browsing through their records in the store. Sorry, I just wanted to see if there were any South American test pressings of Big Bam Boom.


I’ve already written extensively about Oasis and I will be again next month when the Knebworth live set is released. And I probably will beyond that too.

I got into them in the mid 90’s when they were one of the biggest bands on the planet and I was just listening to whatever sounded cool to me at the time. I sort of set them aside in the 2000’s when their songwriting magic had worn off and the band eventually imploded. I, like many, found that wave of nostalgia a few years ago and have been back hard on the Oasis train since.

Now who gives me shit for liking Oasis? EVERYBODY. It’s literally anyone who doesn’t like Oasis is like “You like that crap?” Yes, I do. And if I need to have a defiant, snarky attitude towards anyone hating on my tastes, I can’t think of two better role models for that than the brothers Gallagher. Perhaps calling them role models says something about my lack of well-being but hey, it’s 2021, we’re past that sort of thing now.

Black Metal

This is an entire subgenre rather than one band, and for good reason. I personally don’t feel guilty about listening to it at all, but black metal is some absurd music with a ridiculous history and a lot of unsavory characters who happened to record some of the music’s most revered works.

I have a post coming in the near future that gets far more into how I came into black metal so I won’t bloviate about it much here. But I first heard of it when the crazy ass story of Varg Vikernes and Euronymous made the rounds in the 90’s. The music wound up really clicking with me a few years later.

I don’t feel guilty about listening to harsh, misanthropic, anti-religious music. Those themes are likely why I took to it in the first place. I do, like many, try to make sure I’m not accidentally supporting outright Nazis, something that is an unfortunate part of several black metal bands. That’s its own culture war playing out on the battlefields of social media right now. The signals and messages often get mixed up and crossed, which is why I largely stay the hell out of the arguments. There’s nothing to gain and far too much ire and spite to wind up with in all of that shit. But the style as a whole is being called into question, that’s an unavoidable part of being into this shit in 2021.

I personally will keep on listening to who I like, hoping that they aren’t trying to ressurect the Third Reich. Outside of that I don’t really care what these people get up to, and by and large most of them aren’t into any sick stuff like that. The murder and arson and whatever is fine, I guess.

Insane Clown Possee

Here we are – my one true guilty pleasure, the one thing I have long hesitated to admit liking. It’s the one that I’m like “dude, you have an old picture of me in an ICP shirt, please destroy that kthanksbye.” It’s the one group I had every studio album of at one time but later made a beeline to the CD store to trade in for something inoffensive and unembarassing, like black metal.

In 1998 I was exposed to ICP and I thought they had some funny and entertaining stuff. I really got into them in 1999 and the turn of the millenium. I never went so far as to paint my face, drink Faygo or even go see them live, but I was pretty into their stuff.

My thoughts on them started shifting around 2001. Honestly, their music is pretty dumb. I listen to some pretty stupid stuff anyway but man, these guys take the cake. And also them getting obliterated in song by Eminem didn’t help matters. I quietly packed up my juggalo stuff and pretended that my brief era of being down with the clowns didn’t exist.

Today my thoughts have shifted some again. I can look back at what ICP have done and respect their place in things. They built their own subculture and the infrastructure around it and they turned their own passions into a living and a way of life. They’ve also shown they can roll with the punches, like when they got clowned on SNL for the absurdity of their song Miracles. And the community of juggalos seem to be some pretty cool people, despite how maligned they are in popular culture.

I’ll also admit this – I can’t really get back into them. I think they have a few songs that stand out and are pretty good but by and large this isn’t something I want to play again or have in my collection again.

6 thoughts on “Guilty Pleasures

    1. I used to catch heat all the time for other stuff I liked from metalheads. But I’ve known a lot of metalhead friends for so long now that they know what I like and I know what they like. It’s honestly people from other scenes like indie rock and shoegaze that give me shit for liking metal these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great post. But I won’t lie, I was surprised when you didn’t bring up your addictions to Culture Club, Rick Astley, or Jim Nabors. I guess you’re still in some level of denial??

    I admit, it did take me a bit by surprise the first time I heard you say you liked Bon Jovi, but only because I know you like much heavier stuff than I do and I hadn’t heard you mention it before. I also love the majority of their stuff, just didn’t know we had that in common.
    As I know you will agree, people who give somebody shit for something they like are just morons. A great band IS a great band. I dislike many great bands for various reasons, but I can still acknowledge that’s what they are.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: A Story And A Song, Vol. One – The Crooked Wanderer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s