Stop believin’

17 Nov

We're guilty of being FREAKIN' AWESOME!

 I love talking about rock and roll endlessly because, well, I’m a snob. (No surprise there.)

I like to think my taste is unquestionably tasteful. I live to encourage people to like what’s good and eschew–even vilify–what’s not. Yet like all snobs, I have a weak spot for some stuff I can’t believe I really, really like. 

I’m talking about guilty pleasures: songs you adore no matter how bombastic the band or lame the lyrics. Everybody’s got a few. I think that’s one reason that iPods took off: even as you told people you were really into Radiohead, you could have The Darkness pumping through your earbuds and no one would be the wiser.

Part of the appeal of a guilty pleasure is that it’s snobbery in reverse. You’re sticking up for a band when no one else does. You are cool enough to admit that a song doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. It can have a fatal flaw like dated production values or way too much airplay and still be valid. You, in your infinite coolness, are strong enough to say that such a song is “awesome” without irony.

Problem is, if the general public starts agreeing with you, a guilty pleasure loses its cachet. You start to evaluate the music on its own merits again …  and it’ll inevitably come up short. The spell is broken.

Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I have to announce the death of my guilty pleasure: Journey.

When I first got my iPod, I was like a kid in a candy store, tracking down singles I had wanted to own for years but could never bring myself to spring for the full album or CD. One of the first 100 songs I purchased was “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.” I almost looked over my shoulder before I hit the Buy button to make sure no one saw me.  The lead singer sounds–and looks–like Cher’s long-lost sister. The chorus is a bunch of power chords built on a playground taunt . The title drops enough g’s for a down payment on a car. But oh, how incredibly thrilling it all is. Here’s what I’m talking about:

In 2007, no one was more suprised than me–and maybe Neal Schon–that David Chase chose “Don’t Stop Believin'” to close out the final episode of The Sopranos. Suddenly an overplayed oldie by a band that had fallen off the radar was part of one of the most pivotal moments in television … and I could pat myself on the back for having my taste validated by Tony Soprano. My guilty pleasure was his. I was so, so cool by association.

But then came Glee … and Rock of Ages … and a bazillion middle school dances. Journey is now inescapable. There’s no snob appeal in liking them anymore. They belong to the masses again: good for them, but bad for me, because they aren’t my little secret arsenal of awesome anymore.

So I’ve had to move onto other pursuits – but please don’t tell anyone I like this song because it’s all too embarrassing!

See you on the flip side …

3 Responses to “Stop believin’”

  1. Tom Doyle November 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    If you want a Journey song (actually a pair of tracks) that none of these revivals use, yet is epic, try “Feeling That Way/Anytime.” The problem with the digital versions is that your device won’t insist on playing these two together in order as one song, which is essential. It’s got some snob appeal, because the nouveaux Journey fans typically don’t know it.

  2. Kat November 18, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    My current Guilty Pleasure is Weezer’s “If You’re Wondering If I Want You To”. It’s so cheesy, yet I can’t bring myself to stop jamming out to it, much to the chagrin of my husband.


  1. We’re only human after all: The healing power of Level 42 | LP on 45 - January 3, 2014

    […] “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’,” Journey. Ah, the guilty pleasure I analyzed in one of my first blog posts. […]

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