I’m a great fan of Sirius satellite radio. I can’t stand the commercials on terrestrial radio any more — if I get in the car to drive to Home Depot just as regular radio goes into a break, chances are good they’ll still be playing commercials by the time I reach my destination 15 minutes later. And when they do come back from a break, the brainless patter of deejays makes me so crazy that I generally spend most of my time yelling at the jock to SHUT THE F*** UP AND PLAY SOME MUSIC! And then, of course, there’s the music: the same old limited playlist of the same old tired songs. I can say with confidence that it was overplay of the Supremes’ “Stop In The Name of Love” and the Miracles’ “Tears of a Clown” that drove me to satellite several years ago. And the fact that Howard Stern had announced he was heading to Sirius only made the XM/Sirius choice that much easier for me.
Anyway, that’s a long way of saying that I love satellite radio. My particular model of radio has a function called “S-Seek,” in which you can program the radio to alert you when one of thirty of your favorite songs comes on. At the press of a button, you’ll be whizzed over to the station that’s getting ready to play your song of choice.
And I realized today, as I was driving to Rockville, that most of my S-Seeks are, to put it bluntly, quite lame.
What they all are, I realized, are guilty pleasures — songs that I love to hear and (God help you) sing along with. Some are one-hit wonders, while others are just plain dopey songs that the artists themselves would probably just as soon forget. Still others are good songs, but the kind that no card carrying middle-aged straight guy should be squealing about when they come on the air.
So without further ado, here are my Top Five Guilty Pleasures (as determined by my Sirius Radio S-Seek Function):
(5) “Bad Blood” (Neil Sedaka)
With its opening synthesized bass notes and Elton John-assisted harmonies in the chorus, what’s not to love about this mostly forgotten chunk of well-produced 1970s pop from one of the Brill Building’s tin pan alley icons? Bonus points as well for Sedaka’s almost too-enthusiastic enunciation on the word “bitch.”
(4) “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (Elton John & Kiki Dee)
Another Elton John assist, this time on a catchy call-and-response notable for its complete lack of sexual tension, especially for a song allegely about heartbreak. Yet, the hook is irresistable — it’s impossible not to sing “woooo hooo…” at the chorus. Just try.
(3) “Don’t You Want Me” (Human League)
My wife often teases me about what she calls my “mod” tastes in 80s music, and this song probably epitomizes those tastes. No drums or guitars, only heavy synthesizers (hey! that was part of their novelty!), and a plot straight out of A Star is Born, with lyrics all but screamed by frontman Philip Oakley. And the fact that I know the name of the lead singer makes me want to punch myself right in the area.
(2) “Head Over Heels” (Go-Go’s)
You can have your “We Got The Beat” and “Vacation” — to me, this is the finest Go-Go’s song ever produced. It’s a clean sounding track, with well-placed back-up harmonies, and a strong vocal from Belinda Carlisle, but it’s the little quirks in the song that really sell it. There’s heavy piano, a bass guitar solo(!), and, the icing on the cake, handclaps — which arrive on a half-beat — in the chorus. Go ahead: try to clap along. I’ll just point and laugh.
(1) “Afternoon Delight” (Starland Vocal Band)
I loved this song as I kid, and I’m still a sucker for it today. It took me years to even realize that the lyrics were suggestive — I thought for a long time that the fireworks themselves were the “afternoon delight.” Oooh! Ahh! — I was more impressed with the acoustic sound and the harmonies. To this day, when it comes on the radio, I try to pick a harmony part to sing and see if I can stay with it for the entire song. I hate myself.
What are YOUR guilty pleasures, hmmm?