One of the most inescapable phrases when trying to talk to someone about music is usually something along the lines of: “Oh my god. They are my guilty pleasure.” This can be in reference to any number of musicians from boy bands to greatest hits albums. This saying has always gotten on my nerves because, get this, I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. Or rather that they shouldn’t exist.
For Esquire magazine back in 2004, essayist and journalist Chuck Klosterman tackled this very subject in one of my favourite articles by him. A book was being released called The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures: 1,001 Things You Love to Hate. A silly book, but it still brings up an interesting part of our culture.
Klosterman writes, “What the authors of The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures (and everyone else who uses this term) fail to realize is that the only people who believe in some kind of universal taste—a consensual demarcation between what’s artistically good and what’s artistically bad—are insecure, uncreative elitists who need to use somebody else’s art to validate their own limited worldview.”
I openly and freely admit that I love and deeply care about A Flock of Seagulls (yes, the guys with ‘the hair’ and did that one song). In fact, many of my favourite bands are ones considered one-hit-wonders State-side. While I write this I’m listening to the Generation X ‘Anthology’ album because I love every decade of Billy Idol. Does this mean I have bad taste in music? Possibly. But I also don’t really believe in music taste being good or bad. Sometimes we just meet people who think exactly the way we do, and nothing feels better than having our thoughts validated by someone we think is cool.
I never understood why people felt the need to list their enjoyments as guilty pleasures. At what point do we need to feel bad about the things we choose to like in life? Taste is, obviously, subjective. Especially if you’re into music, there is often the pressure to like the right kind of music (if that’s even a thing). Nothing pisses me off more than someone telling me what to like.
The reasons I enjoy the Flock is because their music makes me feel like I’m slowly and sadly falling in love with someone in an 80s dream (or a John Hughes film). I like the way their music makes me feel. A lot. To some they might be cheesy and dated as hell, but that’s okay. What history says about them shouldn’t determine what I decide to drunkenly cry to.
Klosterman was perfectly right when he said, “It never matters what you like; what matters is why you like it.”
In other news, I haven’t stop watching this all day.