The Guilty Pleasures: 4 Awful Songs That I Can’t Help But Love


All music has its merits. Bad music can be just as fun to listen to as good music. But these songs are truly, objectively, unequivocally terrible.

And I love them even more for it.

4. Devour (2008)

by Shinedown, featured on The Sound of Madness

If you’ve read my introduction, you know that in middle school, Shinedown were my favorite band. By that I mean they were the only band with an album that I actually listened to all the way through. Shinedown’s music had just the right amount of metal, just the right amount of alternative, just the right amount of fury for someone on the cusp of the confusing adolescent years. It’s like opening up a can of processed anger and breathing in the fumes. It’s boring and derivative. But Shinedown are fun to listen to now simply because of how much I used to love them. They’re endearing. They’re cute. Which is ironic, because that’s the opposite of what they intended.

3. Friday (2011)

by Rebecca Black, featured on nothing thankfully

One of these days, I’m going to write an article about how Rebecca Black represents a modern extension of outsider music along the lines of the legendary Shaggs. But that’s for another time. In defense of “Friday”, I ask you this: Is there any other pop song in recent memory that you can sing along to and know every single lyric? It’s so poorly written, with such bizarre word choices, that it bludgeons its way into your mind and remains there forever. No wonder it became an overnight sensation. I judge music based on the emotions I receive from it. And as soon as I start to play the “Friday” video, I break into a huge smile. And I laugh. Because this song is a joke. And jokes are funny, right? Even the terrible ones.

2. Ice Ice Baby (1990)

by Vanilla Ice, featured on To the Extreme

This is another song that is rooted in my middle school memories. Somehow, “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice, the emperor of 90’s cheesiness, found its way onto my iPod in sixth or seventh grade. But I didn’t even listen to it that much, to be honest. The reason why I have such a strong, uh…connection to this song is because back in my class clown days, I loved to parody it. It’s something I became known for among my classmates. Every year, I would rewrite the lyrics of “Ice Ice Baby” and rap it for the class as part of a group project. For example, in eighth grade science class we learned about Earth’s rotational axis and how it affects the seasons. This led me to write the creatively titled “Seasons Seasons Baby” for a class presentation. The other members of my group wore season-themed clothes (i.e. gloves and hats), danced behind me, and sang the chorus while I laid down some rhymes about the Earth’s tilt. Everything about that should be embarrassing. But I’m not ashamed. I knew the song was ridiculous even then, that’s why I chose to parody it! This song takes me back to a more innocent time, and that will never change.

1. Come Sail Away (1977)

by Styx, featured on The Grand Illusion

Here it is. The king of guilty pleasures. One of the most cringeworthy singles of all time, simply because of how overdone and pompous it is. It tries to be the anthem to end all anthems and ends up collapsing under its own ambition. But I love it so much. “Come Sail Away” is one of those songs that burns into your consciousness through radio play alone. This is another one that inexplicably appeared on my iPod sometime around seventh grade, and I remember listening to it constantly. When I listen to “Come Sail Away”, I can let go of all my musical pretensions and just sink into the world of unfettered corniness. It’s an admittedly pretty song. The melodies are there, but the annoying vocals and synthesizers far outweigh its catchiness. There’s too much emotion crammed into this song. And that’s perfect for a middle schooler in the throes of a million conflicted emotions. A match made in heaven. A song from musical hell.

But you know what? Without “Come Sail Away”, we wouldn’t have one of my favorite TV scenes of all time:

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