Guilty pleasures


Something that induces pleasure, but is nonetheless regarded as taboo, discouraged or lowbrow.



There is something strange with the term guilty pleasure. What it essentially boils down to is feeling guilty for enjoying something. It is often used in relation to a song, that according to public opinion is a no-go.

What does public opinion and no-go mean? De The public opinion entails a (ever changing) view on, and opinion about, in this case, good music. Based on that (extremely subjective) opinion, what is no-go is implemented.

Coming out



I remember very well that, years and years ago, a colleague of mine talked about his coming-out as an ABBA fan. Despite the fact that the remark in itself is rather funny, it is a rather strange one, at least in today’s world it is. Back then is was not strange at all. ABBA and their ‘commercial plastic bubble-gum’ music was frowned upon. Nowadays that’s changed: opinion about (and appreciation for) ABBA is universally very great.

Did the disdain come form all circles? No, definitely not. Sales numbers effectively prove this. The contempt was primarily felt and (fanatically) expressed in professional circles (critics). This could not be real music. Never in the world was this so strong an issue, as in Sweden itself, which harvested an extremely progressive (musical) climate around the time ABBA gained their first popularity. Apposed to every success, airtime was claimed on Swedish national television to protest the commercialization of the music by ABBA. Fro some Swedes ABBA was public enemy nr. 1. Totally ridiculous of ofcourse, but a reality nevertheless.

High/low culture

guilty pleasure is bound to time and place. Also clear is that a guilty pleasure can not exist without snobbery. For, before one can feel guilty for enjoying something, cultural expressions must first be separated into high (=good) and low (=bad) culture. The ones that, generally speaking, control that are music critics, music nerds, writers, blogs, etc. However, they are often, demonstrably, wrong. At the time Kraftwerk released their records, Kraftwerk was ostracized by every music authority. Nowadays the discussion, whether Kraftwerk has proven to be more influential than The Beatles, has been commonly accepted.

Determining a guilty pleasure

Adding items to a guilty pleasure list, that aren’t considered a guilty pleasure by others, is fantastic, in this regard, because:

  • the distinguished culture norm of the compiler is higher than the norm of others;
  • the compiler doesn’t identify with the distinguished norm, but the top-distinguished norm.

Good-taste deciders

Why would you compare your won musical taste to the norm (decided by those that think they can). Why (the need to) conform to the norm? Probably the need for affirmation is too big, or maybe the wish to belong to the (higher culture) group? I haven’t decided (yet).


Despite the petty moralism, the unjust pretense and the assessment that feeling shame for something you like is the real shame, I present my top 10 guilty pleasure albums.


John Denver - Greatest Hits (

John Denver – Greatest Hits


My father owned this record. The sentimental music, which, especially, my mother loved (alongside with Roxy Music and particularly Bryan Ferry).

Beautiful songs like Leaving On A Jetplane and Rhymes And Reasons.

The last one was the key-song at my mother’s funeral on December 6th 2012.

Within my family a sure tearjerker.


Boney M - Take The Heat Off Me (

Boney M – Take The Heat Off Me


Daddy Cool, Sunny, Baby Do You Wanna Bump.

Fantastic disco, complemented with, among others, a very bad No Woman No Cry cover.

Frank Farian’s first hit (in Europe anyway), who would repeat this later with Milli Vanilli, but was globally settled for it, as it led to forcibly returning their Grammy Awards.


Meco - Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk (

Meco – Star Wars and other galactic funk


Disco, performed in a way, that would make ‘real’ music lovers vomit.

This is as disco as you can get it, but it works.

And, as real disco should, it was released on Casablanca Records.


O.S.T. - Grease (

O.S.T. – Grease


I was 12 years old when this movie was released and i thought it was great!

All those classic songs, which to this day, bring a smile to my face: Grease, Summer Nights. Hopelessly Devoted To You, Sandy, Beauty School Dropout, We Go Together.

I didn’t like the greatest hit off the album at all: You’re The One That I Want.


Barbra Streisand - Guilty (

Barbra Streisand – Guilty


Ultra slick album, produced by Barry Gibb.

The album went on to become Streisand’s best selling album of her entire career.

Sentimental romance? Sure.
Does it work? Sure.
Do I believe it? I think so.

Best songs: Woman In Love, Guilty, What Kind Of Fool.


Phil Collins - Face Value (

Phil Collins – Face Value


One way or another Phil Collins is as wrong-bad as you van get. I thought his first solo album was very enjoyable. In The Air Tonight is a great song. Also the Beatles cover Tomorrow Never Knows was made with audible respect.

The album concerns itself with (his grief about) his recent divorce. At the time it was considered to be this millionaire’s ego-document who needed to show that his life wasn’t as easy as everybody thought.


Genesis - Genesis (

Genesis – Genesis


Collins’ image also had its consequence on Genesis.

Immediately after Peter Gabriel left in 1975 it was said that Genesis would never be the same. This is obviously true, but songs like Mama, That’s All en Home By The Sea are excellent (pop)songs.


Army Of Lovers - Massive Luxury Overdose (

Army Of Lovers – Massive Luxury Overdose


Great album, if you take this as an ironic statement.

Crucified just is a great and funny song, just like the video.

Have had a lot of fun with this album.


Foxy Brown - Chyna Doll (

Foxy Brown – Chyna Doll


This album goed way out of control and already in the first song. The Birth Of Foxy Brown is a very graphic view on the actual event.

But Hot Spot is so good, so incredibly funky, that the song alone justifies every penny spent on this album.

Produced by, among others, Kanye West.


KC & The Sunshine Band - The Very Best Of KC & The Sunshine Band (

KC & the Sunshine Band – The very best of KC & the Sunshine Band


Slick, perfect music, clearly made with the intention of selling as much as humanly possible. The intention succeeded gloriously.

That´s not just the product of clever marketing. A lot of great songs: (That’s The Way) I Like It, Get Down Tonight, I’m Your Boogie Man, Keep It Comin’ Love and my favorite Please Don’t Go.


These are my 10 most important guilty pleasure albums. Maybe also compile a list with just songs….

Do you have guilty pleasures? Or are you really above that? Let me know and I´ll add your guilty pleasure to this post!!



Lime – Babe We’re Gonna Love Tonight


From Tom (Dutch site)

Lime - Babe We're Gonna Love Tonight (


Village People – Can’t Stop The Music


From Lisette (Dutch site), Samantha is part of this album

Village People - Can't Stop The Music (


Rob De Nijs – Het Werd Zomer


From Bert-Jan (Dutch site)

Rob De Nijs - Het Werd Zomer (


Compliments/remarks? Yes, please!