Top Guilty Pleasure Songs

Guilty pleasure songs...Those songs that for some reason we feel a little bad about loving. Maybe we know they were bad or maybe they were part of a fad that has since become somewhat embarrassing. Whatever the reason, there are songs that when they come on, we belt them out, even if we feel a little bad about it. Here are some of the guilty pleasure songs from our team.

Adam’s Picks

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” - Deep Blue Something | Genre: Alt Rock | Release Date: 1995

This song, especially the lyrics, is not good. I will admit that right now. It’s supposed to be about a guy desperately trying to save a failing relationship, instead, you’re left wondering how they even got together in the first place. It feels more like the chess kid trying to figure something he has in common with the pretty cheerleader he has a crush on but never talked to. He is in love with the idea of her, not the reality. It’s bad. And the music isn’t great either, just bland middle of the road alt-rock that was a dime a dozen in the mid to late 90s. The one thing it’s got is a hook, and that’s enough. This song comes on and I will start singing along.

“Jump” - Kriss Kross | Genre: Hip-Hop | Release: 1992

The late 80s and early 90s saw hip-hop taking its place in the mainstream and like a lot of things when they first develop people were trying to figure out what it was and cash in. Some thought it was a fad, some were well-meaning. This led to a lot of celebrity (Joe Pesci and Dee Dee Ramone), novelty (“Baby Got Back”), or both (Bart Simpson “Do the Bartman”). Kriss Kross was produced and packaged like pop boy bands with an artificial style choice add-on. Despite knowing all that now. That this song is a novelty packaged to suburban kids who wouldn’t know real hip-hop if it bit them. I still love it and it will still make me jump, as best as I can at my age.

“Flagpole Sitta” - Harvey Danger| Genre: Alternative Rock| Release Date: 1997

A good portion of my guilty pleasure songs are 90s alt-rock, it’s what I grew up listening to and a big part of guilty pleasure songs is nostalgia. That said, I’m going to go out on a limb and defend this one. I think the music is good and the lyrics are good. I genuinely like this song. And while I have nostalgia for this song (I remember Jeff Thompson screaming the lyrics at me in biology class freshman year of high school), it is just a good song. And one that is a ton of fun to sing along with or shout in my case. And these days we can all say, “I’m not sick, but I’m not well."

“My Own Worst Enemy” - Lit | Genre: Alternative Rock| Release Date: 1999

This is another where there is no irony or nostalgia in my love for this song. Maybe it’s because “it’s no surprise to me I am my own worst enemy.” Maybe because it has a pop-punk feel to it, and I love all forms of punk. But this is another one that I just love to belt out when I hear it. And that is the thing with so many guilty pleasure songs—the joy, the irresistible urge to sing along. You may feel bad about it later, but at the moment, there’s just joy.

“Man with the Hex” - Atomic Fireballs | Genre: Swing Revival| Release Date: 1999

I love this song, and, in some ways, it is here as my favorite guilty genre pleasure song. Two music fads from the mid to late 90s, ska and the swing revival, get a lot of eye rolls these days. People shake their heads and call them fads and wonder why people even liked them. But every time I hear this song, I get it. This song has so much energy that you want to dance, to swing. To me, it swings better than actual swing, which has always made me feel a little slow and lethargic. For me, the swing revival sound was a better representation of swing than the real thing. It was swing translated. Time can blunt the impact of things. Johnny Cash was considered unbelievably fast when he came out but to the tempo of punk, he seems slow. Alice Cooper was shocking, but to a world with Marilyn Manson, he seems tame. And swing, which caused a moral panic for its primal energy, seemed bland. The swing revival, and this song especially, put the moral panic back in and it was great.

“Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” - Crash Test Dummies | Genre: Alternative/Indie | Release Date: 1993

This is another where there is a lot of embarrassment from people that this song ever got big. But I genuinely love it. I love this song. I love this whole album (God Shuffled His Feet), and I love their previous album (their debut The Ghosts That Haunts Me). The Crash Test Dummies are considered one-hit wonders (at least here in the US. In their native Canada, they had a much more sustained career). They’re known primarily for the deep bass voice of the lead singer and people not being sure what the song was about exactly.

It’s not that the words are unintelligible by garbled singing or the lyrics don’t make sense on the very surface level. It’s just that you have no idea what the bigger picture is (at least I don’t, and I’ve been listening to this song since it came out). Each verse tells the story of an adolescent in circumstances that causes them to be ostracized. Each one is kind of strange, and together they seem like parables. But what the point of the parables or the point of the song, in general, is unclear. In many songs, this clarity might be provided by the chorus, repeated after each verse to reinforce itself. But for this one, the chorus offers no clarity at all. That is because the chorus, and the main thing most people remember about the song, is just the lead singer humming in his deep bass voice. It’s even the name of the song, “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” is just the phonetic representation of the humming.

With the gimmicky chorus and lyrics, the deep bass lead, it should all fall into the category of novelty junk, but I really liked it. The lead singer’s voice, which some find off-putting, I like. The weirdness of the lyrics (not just here, but in many of their other songs as well), I like. Even the gimmicky chorus…after all it’s easy to sing along with and that’s the best past of guilty pleasure songs, singing along.