Dirty Little Secret

July 31, 2008 12:01 AM

Got any bands that you're embarrassed to like or look back on and wonder "what the hell was I thinking?" I used to have this big thing with Michelle Branch, people would flip through my cd book and find her cd and I'd say it was my sisters. During middle/high school I got sucked into that whole emo/punk thing when it was just starting (New Found Glory, Something Corporate, The Used...) I try to play those cds now and it hurts. One band that people always give me crap for is They Might Be Giants but that's not embarassing, they rock something fierce.
posted by BrnP84 (35 comments total)

I fucking love--and I mean in a totally inappropriate and embarrassing way--Avril Lavigne's Girlfriend. Probably the best pop song of 2007. I expect somebody to forcibly pry the guitar from my hands at a campfire singalong someday.

Really, though, I'm not embarrassed of much. Every kind of music, even stuff that I really can't stand, has got some kind of merit. Maybe it's danceable, maybe it's vapid but has a great hook, maybe it's got a really neat turnaround at the end of the bridge, or maybe it's just really well-produced. But there's always something. I might not get the same thing from a track that somebody else does, but I've got to acknowledge, at least, that there's something there to get. The reverse ought to be true, too. No reason to be embarrassed.

Also, Sincerely Me is a fucking fantastic song; you have my blessing to dust off a New Found Glory album. And, speaking of Dirty Little Secrets, so is almost everything from the All-American Rejects' Move Along.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:28 AM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Three words: Billy. Fucking. Joel.
posted by Jofus at 7:29 AM on July 31, 2008

Uriah Heep.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:21 AM on July 31, 2008

I love a-ha, the band most in the US think of as a one hit wonder with the 80's song "Take On Me." Worldwide they've had a zillion hits, and they're still active and producing good songs. I maintain that their guitar player, Paul Waaktaaar-Savoy, is one of the greatest living songwriters (in terms of melody more than lyrics).

Their albums tend to be flawed, but every one of them contain several songs I consider to be Great, even if the production style sometimes veers pretty far into embarrassing territory.
posted by edlundart at 8:25 AM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'm less and less embarrassed to defend some aspect of bands often considered laughable. That said, I think I'd say Hall and Oates. I think their stuff holds up much better than a lot of '80s stuff. It's wickedly catchy. They studied the motown playbook, and added just enough production sheen so that it didn't sound old-fashioned at the time. At the same time...that moustache, and the hair.

I have a memory of sitting in the backseat during a family roadtrip through the rockies when I was like ten. "Maneater" came on the radio after "let my love open the door" by Pete Townshend, just as I was kicking some serious ass on that dark green handheld LED mattel football game, and all the elements of the scene worked together perfectly.
posted by umbú at 8:47 AM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

And I agreed with you about TMBG. Behind the goofiness lies some serious knowledge of how to string chords together and come up with earworm melodies.
posted by umbú at 8:50 AM on July 31, 2008

I never used to listen to TMBG; I always dismissed them as goofy schlock. But in the last three or four years I've realized what freaking geniuses they are. I've seen them perform, I think, three times recently, and every time they are just so into the show and so into the audience. Great songwriters, great performers.

Also, Hall and Oates are awesome. What would we do without Rich Girl? Without Private Eyes? Be sad, that's what.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:40 AM on July 31, 2008

At some point, I'm going to clean up the vocals I did on a set of songs I wrote inspired by the jazz-pop stylings of Sade, Basia, Swing Out Sister and Hiroshima. And will post some here to Metafilter Music.

There. I said it.
posted by NemesisVex at 2:18 PM on July 31, 2008

I was gonna say Ozzy that you kinda reminded me a little of the All American Rejects, I never really got too into them but I always thought their radio songs were pretty catchy. And give it up for the TMBG love, I saw them in concert a few months ago and they rocked my pants off, literally (well no not really but they were pretty awesome).
posted by BrnP84 at 2:47 PM on July 31, 2008

I'm completely out of touch with prevailing values on cool/uncool, especially if we're talking some sort of consensus among younger people in America. I'm too old, and I've been gone too long! But there are some bands that I like which used to be sort of frowned on and considered embarrassing. Among those would be Steppenwolf (they were, IMO, the funkiest rockers of their generation), early Alice Cooper (great rock singer with the perfect combination of whine/snarl/slight gravel), early Jethro Tull (I just like it...), and Tommy James and the Shondells, who used to be pretty roundly despised, but who had a stunningly diverse array of styles at work in their songs. I mean, the same guy wrote "Mony Mony", "Crimson and Clover" and "Draggin' The Line"? Impressive!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:48 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

um, I really like the Monkees, although primarily Mike Nesmith's work therein, and in the First National Band and such
posted by davejay at 6:32 PM on July 31, 2008

oh, and as unlistenable as almost every track of Ween's Pure Guava album is, and as annoying as the one "good" track Push th' Little Daisies got after all that airplay, I adore Poop Ship Destroyer, and I don't know why. Also the Twelve Country Greats album, the White Pepper album, and their first multi-record set release, the name of which I do not know.

I am using small type because I am still ashamed
posted by davejay at 6:35 PM on July 31, 2008

Kenny Rogers. I really love The Gambler. Also, "Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town" is terribly wonderful. Kenny. MF. Rogers.
posted by February28 at 8:01 PM on July 31, 2008

I'm never embarrassed by music I like. I think the first time someone ever tried to really embarrass me for liking a song it was when I was trying to explain my profound love for REM's "Nightswimming" to someone who only listened to Czech art rock incorporating field recordings of powertool accidents or some other similarly obscure genre. Now that the pendulum is starting to swing to anti-cool sentiment I'm starting to see a kind of false populism from some of those same guys, because suddenly enough of their idols have said it's ok to like Blue Oyster cult or something. It's all bullshit unless you listen to what you love because you love it.

Speaking of which, I really do like "Burning For You." I'm also extremely fond of Hall and Oates. "I Can't Go For That" is just so damn tight. So is "Maneater".

(edlundart, I've not listened to a-ha's whole catalog but the little I've heard gives me no reason to doubt you. I certainly think Hunting High and Low is a lovely song despite (to my ears) a few unfortunate production effects. I'd love to see someone take the lead/harmony vocals and the strings and put them over something more interesting.)
posted by melissa may at 9:24 PM on July 31, 2008

Wow, I really like the bands/people that everyone has said so far (except for New Found Glory--sorry--and the Heep, but that's only because I've got to be in the right mood for them, kinda like the Groundhogs or Steeleye Span or certain albums by The Pretty Things). I kind of wrote about this at one of the places I write about music every once in awhile (started by mefite verysleeping among others) called Sing Us Your Favorite Tune (which is a great blog, even if I wasn't a part of it). So, forgive the sorta self link (you can hear the song over there), but I'm going to just reproduce it here.

This is a love letter of sorts, so if you don’t want to deal, just skip to the [penultimate] paragraph:

I spent my early childhood in the late 70s and early 80s, so my brain doesn’t really see what’s wrong with androgyny, polyester (as long as I don’t have to wear it), or overly-dramatic and completely overblown pop songs. I love Black Sabbath as much as I love ABBA. I can listen to a lot of proggy goodness in the way of Guru Guru and then turn on the sixth Beatle Jeff Lynne and his bubblegumilicous candy-prog band ELO. But it hasn’t always been that way.

You see, I have a problem with nostalgia. It’s a game for losers and advertising firms and I really had worked hard on getting rid of it in my life. Around 2002, however, I had a small change of heart. It was around then a lot of things ended for me and I was stuck in a horrible job in a three-bedroom house with holes in the floor; I couldn’t even pace back and forth because there was no room. I had begun hanging around my friend Melissa a lot more, because she saw that I wasn’t doing well at all. We watched movies together and went out to dinner. We had drinks at local bars (even though she doesn’t drink) and talked about books and music and art and our past lives. We both came to a few conclusions: H.I.‘s words in Raising Arizona, “Sometimes it’s a hard world for small things,” are some of the truest spoken by a film character in recent history; no one should read a novel by a man written from ‘65 to now in which the main character comes to terms with his father through sports/cars/art/women; love is bolder than hate; and lit degrees are kind of worthless.

I had planned a trip to New Mexico in early spring to camp by myself for a few days, but a huge snow storm was coming directly in the path of my trip, so I couldn’t go. Getting ready for the trip, I heard "Mr. Blue Sky" on the radio or in a shop or something and had flashbacks to my older cousins’ rooms with posters of the Bee Gees and Olivia and John in Grease and that weird flying neon ELO jukebox symbol. What was that thing? It wasn’t as cool as the spaceship on Boston albums, that’s for sure. I thought about how much I wanted a vocoder and that the song was actually really good, even if it was a complete Beatles ripoff, and then it left my head. Anyway, in lieu of New Mexico, Melissa decided that we should go a couple of hours north to Omaha and spend the weekend. I’m all like, “Omaha? Yecch!” and she said, “No, it’s great. Let’s go!” So I relented.

We get to Omaha and it is great and we have a wonderful few days. On our last day, we step into a book store with a record store in the basement and an art gallery upstairs called The Antiquarian. While walking around the art exhibit we accidentally walk into an NA meeting. Whoops. We slowly backed out as they said their prayer and we made our way to the record store downstairs. There we met the older man and twenty-something working the register (named by us Dinosaur and Dinosaur Jr. for their record store crustiness—they were nice fellas, though). We looked around and I noticed ELO’s Greatest Hits for $3, so I pick it up and debate. “I’m really not sure if I should get this,” I tell Melissa, “it’s pretty corny and it just brings back feelings of nostalgia more than anything.”

“Nostalgia, shmostalgia. If you like it, get it. If you don’t get it, I will,” she said and smiled. So I walked it up to the counter with the other purchases, which D. and D. Jr. liked and commented on even as they balked and frowned at my copy of ELO’s Greatest Hits, and we walked out of the store.

Soon Melissa and I’s occasional being together became being together all the time and not wanting to spend any time without one another. I also became obsessed with the song "Mr. Blue Sky," and its second-rate Beatles progressions, so much so that every day when we’d wake up together for about three months, I’d play it on the stereo. I’d play it loudly. Sometimes I wouldn’t even wait for the gratuitous ending before I would pick up the needle and start it again, dancing off to the shower. I no longer had ghosts of the late 70s drifting through my thoughts whenever I heard it, just how happy I was to have Melissa around. Now when the song comes up in a commercial or movie or on the radio, I remember how it feels to be loved enough by someone that they would offer to buy an album that I liked but was too afraid to buy because of nostalgia—to be loved by someone who knows me better than I know myself and doesn’t care—and that makes me infinitely happier than anything else in the world.

I honestly like Supertramp as well. Journey, not so much.

And I just went in to see if m thought it would be OK to reproduce this here and she said she was writing something, so, sorry about the double whammy as well.
posted by sleepy pete at 9:31 PM on July 31, 2008 [5 favorites]

The guys in the live Phantom West band laughed at me when I said that I really dug the song "One Night in Bangkok" from the musical Chess and "Dancing Queen" by ABBA.

But I've learned an awful lot about the magic that can be done when a good producer and mixer is on hand. Specifically there's a part in the song where the most perfect decision was made to take something away at just the right time, and everyone I point that detail out to goes "wow."

So it's not embarrassing as such, but I've definitely gotten laughed at a bit over it.
posted by chimaera at 9:49 PM on July 31, 2008

Two words, a lifetime of overwrought, melodramatic teenage broadway rock:

Jim Steinman
posted by mediocre at 1:33 AM on August 1, 2008

Actually, I rescind that. It's no secret, and it's not dirty. I'm legendary for my Meat Loaf karaoke, and I'm rather proud of my Steinman love. I'm not straight ashamed to admit I ever liked anything.. And this comes from someone who listens to Chicago 16 daily..
posted by mediocre at 1:35 AM on August 1, 2008

...someone who listens to Chicago 16 daily...

Good lord.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:42 AM on August 1, 2008

Good lord.

Don't you judge me..

Honestly, I think that Chicago is a band that hipsters are going to start liking ironically here pretty soon. They did it with Journey, which upset me as a lifelong Journey fan. Journey was my first favorite band, and first piece of rock music I owned with the Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) 45) which I literally wore out with my Fisher Price childrens records player).

Just you watch, it's only a matter of time before the cool kids at the hip bars are rocking to adult contemporary.
posted by mediocre at 1:56 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Jes' messin' with ya a little, there, mediocre. All in fun! Actually, I have a bit of a Chicago (and a certain embarrassment thereof) situation that relates to this thread. In November, I'm scheduled to do a gig, here in Tokyo, that a friend of mine (Uchihashi Kazuhisa, ex-Ground Zero, founder of the improvising trio Altered States, and currently producer for singer UA) is putting together: religiously recreated covers of much of the early Chicago material. He asked me to sing some of the songs, and my immediate reaction was "No way, I HATE Chicago"... but then, moments later, I thought, "Hey, that might be a good reason to do it!" So, I'm gonna do it. What the hell.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:13 AM on August 1, 2008

Would you be the Cetera?

Sing through a clenched jaw if you do.
posted by mediocre at 2:30 AM on August 1, 2008

Would you be the Cetera?

Not sure yet.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:50 AM on August 1, 2008

1. I like Rush. A lot. This is me, more or less.

2. We get to Omaha and it is great and we have a wonderful few days. On our last day, we step into a book store with a record store in the basement and an art gallery upstairs called The Antiquarian.

Holy shit, man, I grew up just north of Omaha, and that place was the Holy Grail of Cool to me (although the exact name is The Antiquarium). I laid out a lot of the foundations of my musical taste in that basement.
posted by COBRA! at 7:35 AM on August 1, 2008

Echoing the TMBG love, and the disinclination to frame it even as a dirty secret or a guilty pleasure.

Years from now, TMBG is going to be (I prophecy!) a strange, powerful cultural touchstone for a whole generation of older musicians. They already sort of are now, but they're still active and the original perception-queering flush of their semi-mainstream success with Flood is still too distinct a part of the cultural view of the band too let their cultish influence really settle down and gel.

Everybody has an underappreciated band that they think is genius (and for all that, TMBG has been more appreciated than a great many other underappreciated genius bands), so I know it's just me being me and feeling like I have these unique magical feelings that No One Else Understands, but I really believe those two have combined over the years into something really singular and worth studying. It sucks that we have a cultural climate that makes it impossible to take a band seriously if the band doesn't try to be Serious.

Millions and millions of teenage girls screamed for NKOTB and the Backstreet Boys and so on, and TMBG is a slotted as a "joke band". Hoom.

Anyway: I can't ever fully unlike early Mariah Carey—the first tape I bought was Music Box, and I listened to that thing to death. I have a much more thorough understanding of the breadth and depth and history of music production now than I did when I was 14, and I've heard enough sappy, overwrought pop love ballads to have gotten over the genre and then some, but she was still recording some pretty good pop music at the time.
posted by cortex at 9:21 AM on August 1, 2008

(Reverso: I'm embarrassed at how ready I was to dismiss Dark Side of the Moon when I first heard it. I was just getting into Floyd, still pretty damned constrained in what I was listening to in general, and I was expecting, like, a prequel to The Wall? I guess? And I heard DSOTM and was all "okay, there's some good guitar work but not enough of it and also what's with all the damn SAXAPHONE and why do those WOMEN keep SINGING, what is this anyway, the SEVENTIES?"

posted by cortex at 9:24 AM on August 1, 2008

although the exact name is The Antiquarium

PEDANT! I always thought that was wrong. It was an awesome place, though. Unfortunately, someone told me it's not around any more. And the guys there were pretty great (and pointed me to a barely-used copy of Double Nickels on the Dime instead of the new vinyl copy I was going to pick up, as well as an Impressions album I'd missed) even if they scoffed at the ELO.
posted by sleepy pete at 6:36 PM on August 1, 2008

It's not there anymore?! Raw deal. I know it was there the last time I was in Omaha, but that was 2 or 3 years ago. It was probably their lack of respect for Jeff Lynne that did them in. I'm sorry, brought them down. Rhoose!
posted by COBRA! at 7:28 AM on August 2, 2008

I used to rock out to Limp Bizkit's Significant Other in my car. Sad thing is, I'm pretty sure the CD is around somewhere.
(wtf, dunkadunc, wtf)
posted by dunkadunc at 10:26 PM on August 2, 2008

Duran Duran. Pretty much everything by Duran Duran is good with me.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:20 AM on August 4, 2008

Well, I've always been a bit of a Garth Brooks fan, which is pretty embarrassing in and of itself for a hip, urban young person such as myself. Even more embarrassing is the fact that I really fricking love several songs from his In The Life of Chris Gaines album, which is possibly the greatest embarrassment in the history of the music industry. For those not familiar, it is an album of pop/R&B/rock songs done by Brooks in the persona of a fictional Australian rock star named Chris Gaines. The album was supposed to be the lead-in to a fictional biopic film that would have given the songs and the persona some context, but the album was so universally trashed on both sides of the country/rock divide that the plug was pulled on the film and the album was left to wither, barely explained, on the vine. Still, "Way of the Girl" (I can't even find audio online to link to) is one of my favorite songs ever.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:47 PM on August 5, 2008

In high school I loved Barenaked Ladies until Stunt came out and now the thought listening to them makes me cringe. I've loved TMBG since middle school and never found that one embarrassing.
posted by DanielDManiel at 2:41 PM on August 6, 2008

Now that no one is reading any more, I'll mention that I just picked up a Neil Sedaka "Best of" CD and it is awesome. No song hits the three-minute mark -- that's how you write a pop song! No filler, no lenghty intros -- "BOM BOM BOM" and here's the verse and here's a chorus and repeat and a quick little bridge and another verse and then chorus to fade.

If I could write songs (and dance) like Neil Sedaka I would be so happy.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 5:26 AM on August 7, 2008

Tori Amos. Guh.
posted by loiseau at 11:31 PM on August 10, 2008

Aw, Tori's great. Insane and precious and wildly uneven, yeah, but capital-g Great for all that.
posted by cortex at 8:22 AM on August 11, 2008

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