Top Ten Pop Songs I’m Embarrassed to Like (Part One)
Somewhere back in the ages, I promised to make a list of embarrassing but appealing pop songs. By “embarrassing songs” I mean the ones I would never admit to liking in public or make protest if someone flipped the radio station away from them. The songs that might make me blush like a schoolgirl if I had to buy the album at Natural Sound.
Time eventuallly clears the slate for all pop songs, though. There were people who sneered at Glen Miller back in the day, but Big Band is all apples to apples now. Likewise, I’m free to dote on the Monkees and Captain and Tennille since time has vindicated their camp. Still, many songs are too fresh to slip by the dork detector, and these are the ones that bring my tapping toes to shame. Beautiful songs with the stink of unripe schmaltz. Songs to raise the eyebrows and noses of the cool kids. It’s all so very junior high. Without further adieu, part one of the list:
1) Allentown, by Billy Joel. Billy Joel is a shameless cheesebag. He’s a consumate craftsman with questionable artistry, a peddler of cliches and faked emotions lapped up by a generation past. Still, “Allentown,” his ode to the hopelessness of the working class, stikes a note of honest melencholy with me - due largely in part to backwards reverb on his mournful wailings and some catchy chordwork.
2) Waiting for a Star to Fall - Boy Meets Girl. This one-hit-wonder struck gold with the epitome of mindless pop love songs. Catchy and slick to a fault, the song may be hated for many generations to come. That’s where you belong, in my arms, baby, yeah.
3) Mary’s Prayer - Meet Danny Wilson. Another one-hit-wonder from the fey 80’s cranked out this unremarkable ditty that infects despite itself. I hear a note of urgency and despair in it that’s missing from much of pop music, so my eyes tear a little even as they roll.
4) Breakout - Swing Out Sister. Yet another one-hitter from the 80’s, this time with a pretty girl who sang flat while trying to revive flapper fashion. It’s very hard to keep from singing along in an effort to fix the notes she clunks and save the song. Thereby winning her love.
5) Fortress Around Your Heart - Sting. Smug and hateable Sting, in all his Jazziness… with all his new Jazz friends…made a really nice little song. The chord changes are surprising, the melody is suspenseful, the chorus is regal and the lyrics remind me of Vlad the Impaler. Way to go, shithead.