The NPR post today asking folks what their most embarrassing musical “guilty pleasures” were made me wonder, do people really feel guilty or embarrassed about pleasure? As I told my friend Jane, “I find all kinds of horrible music pleasurable, but I don’t feel guilty about it.”
The author of the post chose Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and the somewhat obscure but harmless Ozark Mountain Daredevils as his guilty pleasures. Um, ok. I like “Jackie Blue” and “If You Wanna Get to Heaven.”
The comments section was strewn with all the predictable choices: ABBA, Kenny G, Barry Manilow, Carpenters, and some more contemporary oddballs. Interesting that nobody mentioned Celine Dion. I got the impression everyone (the author included) was trying to give answers that would make them look kind of cool in an ironic way, but maybe they really do feel guilty or embarrassed.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s really hard to find music that has no redeeming value. I like things for all kinds of reasons, and while the pleasure I derive from music that is shunned or overlooked by the majority of listeners or critics might contain an element of kitsch value or irony or — more often — nostalgia, I have a hard time figuring out how guilt figures into it.
I know, I know, “guilty pleasures” is just one of those catch phrases. It probably doesn’t really involve much guilt for most people. Or does it? It’s hard to imagine someone feeling the need to go to confession after listening to “Forever in Blue Jeans,” but you never know. It takes all kinds.