Sunday, October 12, 2008

Guilty Pleasures?

Well there was a full page ad in today’s Gazette, sponsored by Q92, that’s a radio station, Montreal’s 92.5, and no, I don’t listen to Q92, I don’t listen to the radio at all, but if I did I would not listen to Q92, but this ad, it was from Q92, and it was about “Q92’s Guilty Pleasures Weekend.”

It says: “Playing songs you are embarrassed to admit you love.”

What a concept. Why would I be embarrassed to love a song? Ok. I get it. Some songs just aren’t cool. I mean some artists suck and so do some songs. But hey, if I like it I like it, and no one’s gonna tell me I shouldn’t.

But ok. I get the concept. It’s cool. Let’s deal. There’s this list of 92 (get it?) songs, some of which are “winners,” and I don’t know what that means apart from you get a prize if you call while one is playing, and you are the 9th caller. They are giving away cameras.

But that’s not the point. Cameras, I mean. It’s the songs that interest me. These are songs that are embarrassing to like.

So what’s on the list? I wanted to break it down, but that would take me all night, so here I’ll just make some random observations:

First off, “Tracks Of My Tears” is by the Miracles, not by Smokey Robinson, though Smokey sang lead. And it’s a great record, and it doesn’t belong on this list. It is totally cool.

Neither “Ob-La-Di , Ob-La-Da” nor “Michelle,” both by the Beatles, belong here, and neither were hits by The Beatles. The first was a hit by Marmalade, the same Marmalade that put “Reflections Of My Life” in the top 10 in 1970, though you wouldn’t have heard it on the radio (“Ob-La-Di , Ob-La-Da”) unless you lived in UK, and the latter by David & Jonathan, or, again, if you lived in the UK, by The Overlanders.

Ok So much for trivia.

There are indeed many songs on this list that I don’t love at all, and perhaps I would be embarrassed if I did love them, like My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion or Wildfire by Michael Murphy. These aren’t so much uncool as just plain bad.

Then there are the songs that are indeed uncool, but not good enough to be here. There’s the Osmonds, they were definitely uncool, but unlike, say, The Monkees, who were super uncool in their heyday, but acquired a kind of retro cool later on, the Osmonds stayed uncool. I listen to their stuff, trying to find some charm in their music but alas, I find none. The entry here is “Down By The Lazy River.” Sorry, don’t love it.

“Knock Three Times” is here, it’s by Dawn (they were still called “Dawn” then, they didn’t become “Tony Orlando & Dawn” till later) but it’s a clinker. “Candida” would have made sense, or even (especially?) “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Around The Old Oak Tree.” Now that one can really make you cringe, but you have to sing along…

Donavan has an entry here, and I get that, the pundits love to dump all over Donovan, but I like him, though I wouldn’t have picked “Mellow Yellow;” I mean pick the song that embarrasses everyone – “There is A Mountain.” People love to hate that.

Oh, and I have to, I’m sorry but I have to, make my feelings known here. “I Will Always Love You” is on here, the cover by Whitney Houston. And I know it sold trillions of records, and I know that she has a “great voice,” yes I know that. But I also know that this song is about heartbreak and vulnerability. And I know Dolly Parton doesn’t sing like Whitney does, and I know that she’s not for everyone’s taste, but she wrote the damn song, and she sings it like it was meant to be sung, and you can feel the sadness in that record, and you can feel how lost she is and how vulnerable. Whitney, dear Whitney, doesn’t sound vulnerable, not hardly, the song sounds like some kind of declaration of independence, she bludgeons it to death, and she sounds like she’s about to bludgeon the object of her affection to death along with the song.

But of course, I could be wrong…

Ok, back to the list. Some of the songs on here are just too boring, like “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder, “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffet, “Sentimental Lady” by Bob Welch. Of course there’s more. But I haven’t got all night.

And nobody likes “Dust In The Wind.” Nobody.

Now what I really don’t get is that some songs on this list are totally and completely cool. “Spirit In The Sky” by Norman Greenbaum – who would be embarrassed to like that one? Or “These Boots Are Made For Walking” by Nancy Sinatra, or “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations?

Ok I get “Muskrat Love,” it’s totally silly, but I don’t love it anyway. I don’t hate it though. It’s innocuous enough. And here’s one. ‘Karma Chameleon.” That’s Culture Club, Boy George – he was totally cool, and totally camp. It was a put-on and it wasn’t a put-on. But the music was irresistible.

“Love The One You’re With.” Where is the embarrassment in that? The totally amoral sentiment? Like that’s unusual in rock lyrics? And “Coconut?” “Classical Gas”? who came up with this list anyway?

I could go on and on. And, in fact, it seems that I have been doing just that. So to wrap this up, here are the songs that I get. Songs that, yes I love, and yes they are, on a certain level, uncool. (it’s a superficial level, for sure, because on a cosmic level they are totally cool). So here goes:

“Daydream Believer” by The Monkees. I think that The Monkees, as I said, have acquired a coolness quotient, but just in case I’m wrong, here it is. The song was written by John Stewart, and sung here by Davy Jones, probably the uncoolest Monkee, but it’s a winner. “It’s just because I’m short” he says, during the lead-in, and maybe he’s right.

“Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. This is way too MOR to be cool, but I’ll listen to it anytime. My pick would have been “Cracklin’ Rosie,” but they didn’t ask me.

“Sugar Sugar” by The Archies. The Archies? Ok. I know this is getting flaky. Sorry I can’t help it. Truth is I can’t say I love this one, but I don’t mind hearing it. Still, I would have picked “Bang Shang A Lang.”

"Mmm-bop" by Hanson. So what if they never had another hit. They were kind of the Partridge Family of the 90s, speaking of which…

I Think I Love You” by The Partridge Family. Perhaps the most uncool group ever in history, only your little sister liked them. And, you know, their LPs are dismal. But their singles are catchy, and this is the catchiest. The harpsichord alone is worth the price of admission. And I always wanted to play bass like Danny. The grand prize winner.

I Think I Love You

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