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),” Beyoncé – 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 ☺.

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