Ten on Tuesday: The Embarrassing Music Edition

When I mentioned this week’s Ten on Tuesday topic, “10 Songs You’re Embarrassed You Like,” to my family, I phrased it as “10 Songs You’re Embarrassed to Admit You Like.” My 15-year-old asked, “If they’re embarrassing, why would you tell anyone?” For a long time, I would have considered that a totally reasonable question.

I’ve always been much more tentative about sharing musical tastes than almost anything else. I may have a hard time narrowing down my favorite books, but I’ll tell you some of them if you really want to know. I don’t mind telling you what foods I like best, or what movies I’ve watched over and over, or which TV shows I want to own on DVD.

But music’s different. We tend to respond to music at a more visceral level, and it can be harder to articulate what appeals about a particular song beyond “I love that!” or “Ew, change the station!” Also, in my experience, other people are more apt to judge you based on the music you like, especially during the teen and young-adult years (I’ve done it. Sometimes I still do it, although I’m far from a young adult these days), and that’s made me skittish about revealing my favorites. Sharing iTunes libraries with my husband-to-be was a big step for me.

I’m trying to let go of that, and as I’ve come into middle-adulthood, it’s gotten easier. I’ve grown much more comfortable about reclaiming music I enjoyed before I was old enough to know I “shouldn’t” like it, and I’ve tried to become more open to music that’s outside my norm. And I’ve grown to accept that I have been, and will always be, uncool, so why not just admit I like what I like and get on with my life? Besides, you’ve probably got some musical embarrassments of your own, so hopefully you won’t judge me on mine!

I’ll start with a few songs no one’s going to find in any music library of mine – for me, they’re only meant to be listened to in the car, when I’m driving by myself and I can crank up the radio to sing along. They’re all loud and unapologetically dumb, not at all in keeping with the image of myself I like to present…and I’ve loved them for years:

“Rock and Roll All Nite,” Kiss – And party every day…(OK, I lied. This one’s in the shared iTunes library, but technically it’s my husband’s.)

“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” AC/DC – It was a tough call between this and “You Shook Me All Night Long,” but I went with this one because I think it’s funnier.

“Pour Some Sugar On Me,” Def Leppard – I have no defense other than the fact it’s ridiculously catchy (let alone just plain ridiculous).

The 1980s were the source of many embarrassments for those of us who remember them (the hair! the makeup! the shoulder pads! Saved By the Bell!). The musical embarrassments were not only documented on record (and cassette, and later CD), but on video too, shown around the clock on MTV.

“Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” Wang Chung – Everybody Wang Chung tonight! (This one’s in my husband’s iTunes library, but not mine.)

“Cold Hearted,” Paula Abdul – If I really wanted to embarrass myself, I’d say “Opposites Attract” (the video she made with the cartoon cat), but even for this exercise I won’t go that far. I actually used to do a pretty decent Paula Abdul impression, which is one indicator she’s not much of a singer.

“Mickey,” Toni Basil – My husband hates this song. I can’t resist it – and I don’t even have a cheerleading past as an excuse.

“Friends in Low Places,” Garth Brooks – One of the numerous individual exceptions to my general “I don’t listen to country” policy, it’s another one I like because it makes me chuckle. By the time this song came around, the 1980s were pretty much over (although, as we know, they came back not too long ago).

Now the ’90’s are long over too, and so are the ’00’s, but I can still find songs I’m embarrassed to enjoy:

“Rockstar,” Nickelback – It’s inherently embarrassing to admit anything by this band is even tolerable, but I just think this song is kind of fun. (But not enough fun to spend $1.29 to download it, so no one’s going to find this one in my iTunes library either.)

“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” Beyoncรฉ – My husband is occasionally thrown by what he finds in my iTunes library, and this was one of the more recent surprises. But I am a total sucker for a good hook, and this song has two killer ones.

“SexyBack,” Justin Timberlake – I’ve never broken down and bought this song, but if I stumble across it on the radio, I always stick around. Again, it’s the hook that brings you back, as Blues Traveler once said.

I’ll give a special mention to some songs that I probably should be embarrassed to like – the collected works of “Weird Al” Yankovic. However, with no shame at all, I will cheerfully admit to being a near-lifelong fan of his.

Your turn now – don’t leave me alone out here! Tell me one of your embarrassing musical favorites. I’ve asked you not to judge me on mine, so I won’t judge you on yours either โ˜บ.

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  1. OK, I'll go first … I'm a new follower and don't think I've ever commented on your blog before! So why not embarrass myself completely.

    How about Paradise by the Dashboard Light by Meat Loaf?

  2. Wow! This is hard for me to answer because I don't think I'm embarrassed by any of my favorite songs. There are songs I don't mind listening to that might be a little embarrassing, but my favorites? No. Maybe it's because I do like country music and have gotten flack for it…so I've become immune and just have the attitude that I like, so deal with it. LOL

    Your 80s mentions brought back a lot of memories for me, though!

  3. Adding a couple of comments that came in from other places:

    Cherie, via Facebook:"I love Rockstar by Nickelback. Even bought the CD. That plays several times in my workout mix."

    Teresa, via e-mail:"Good post, Florinda. I couldn't resist purchasing Single Ladies, either…especially after I heard it on Glee. I like Laura's choice as well."

    Cherie – I'd think that would be a bit slow-paced for a workout, but it does have a solid beat.

    Laura – I'm not at all embarrassed to admit I LOVE "Paradise by the Dashboard Light." I need to add that one to my iTunes, come to think of it.

    Teresa – I heard they did a good version of it on Glee. It's just too much fun :-).

    Jen – Clearly, I'm trying to get over the embarrassment (but I know what you mean about taking flack for what you like!). Good for you for embracing what you love!

  4. Coffeelvnmom – That's an excellent choice. I'm afraid I don't share it, but clearly a lot of people DID like it (it was a #1 hit, after all).

  5. Anything by Alanis Morrisette. Not that I like everything by her, but I hate to admit I like anything by her. You know?

    I really like Styx and a lot of people think they are cheesy, but I grew up on them. They are Chicago boys, what can I say?

    I'm sure there are much more. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Oooh, I'm looking right now! Off the top of my head:

    Sugar, Sugar – The Archies (cringe)
    1,2,3 Red Light – 1910 Fruitgum Co.

    Alright, yes, you've guessed – I'm

    Take a Chance on Me – Abba (bliss!)
    Mandy – Barry Manilow
    Into the Night – Benny Mardones

    Had enough yet?!

    My Kinda Lover – Billy Squier
    Honey – Bobby Goldsboro
    Love will keep us Together – Captain and Tennille

    Ok, I'm only in the "Cs" and I think I've embarrassed myself sufficiently…

  7. LOL! I can totally rock out to Pour Some Sugar On Me. I also get excited to hear Bon Jovi's You Give Love a Bad Name, Alabama's If You're Gonna Play in Texas, Just Dance by Lady Gaga and Umm Bop from Hanson.

    There, let the judging begin ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Oh my, I have too many to mention but here's a taste:

    YMCA (who can resist gay, dressed-up men)

    Come On Eileen (I love the beat even though I have no clue what it's about)

    Don't Go by Yaz (it's a great workout song)

    Anything from the Backstreet Boys ( I know they are no longer boys but I think they are pretty cool)

    Rick Springfield (anything, he's hot!)

  9. How's this for embarrassing: I know all of the words AND THE DANCE to New Kids on the Block's "The Right Stuff." And I secretly love it.

    Also: Christina Aguilera. Can't help it. I love her. And yes, I've done the dance to "Dirrty" in knee-high boots and booty shorts. Only in the privacy of my own home, but still.

    Nice to know I'm not alone!

  10. April – I liked that song when I was 12 and didn't know what it was talking about. Now…"cheesy" is just the start of it :-). Brave choice!

    Mike – Given that you're not a 20-year-old college girl in 1997, I totally understand the Alanis embarrassment. And I still have a soft spot for Styx, to be honest.

    Carol (Pop and Ice) – Not being judgmental, but I honestly cannot stand "Into the Night." But I won't diss ABBA or that Billy Squier song :-), and "Sugar Sugar" is a textbook guilty-pleasure song.

    Lenore – I won't judge you for anything by Bon Jovi. And Hanson's "MMMBop" is the ultimate guilty pleasure – but I won't feel guilty about it :-).

    Amy – You are too kind :-D.

    Ti – I'll always love "Come on Eileen," and Rick Springfield IS still pretty darn hot.

    Rebecca – No, clearly you're not alone! And at least Christina Aguilera can sing.

  11. Okay I love yours and here are some of mine:
    The Stroke – Billy Squier
    Rick Springfield- Jessie's Girl
    Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
    Gold Digger – Kanye West
    To name a few…

  12. Kathleen – Now that "Sweet Caroline" is a staple at ballparks, I'm not sure it's all that embarrassing any more :-). And Rick Springfield is not embarrassing at all!

  13. What? We're supposed to be embarrassed about singing along to Everybody Have Fun Tonight??? How wait–I just remembered what it's about. Yep, we probably should be embarrassed!