Everyone has guilty pleasure songs. The kind of songs we secretly get excited about when they come on the radio while driving or we when we hear them at the gym. We know lots of guilty pleasure songs are actually bad. They’re so bad, it’s not even worth listing here. However, there is a class of guilty pleasure songs that despite being so, are are actually good. Those songs stand on their own as good, but we just don’t want to admit it. Sometimes, it’s a song that is slightly out of an artist’s repertoire, like a ballad sung by a pop star. Or it’s a country song. Everything about country music is a guilty pleasure. There are lots of songs written by incredible song writers, but perhaps performed by artists that are known for things other than their voices. All of the songs on this list have some sort of legitimacy, but are ever so slightly stained in one way or another.
10. “Everytime” by Britney Spears
Britney Spears is great at recording songs that we want to dance to. “Everytime”, from her 2003 album In The Zone, stands out on its own because its unlike most of Spears’ music. The video, which was directed by famed photographer Dave LaChapelle features Britney Spears dying in a bathtub. The original treatment for the video has Spears committing suicide, but it was deemed too controversial and a tamer version was released instead. The song was infamously covered by James Franco’s character, Alien, in the Harmony Korine directed flick Spring Breakers.
9. “Edge of Seventeen” by Lindsay Lohan
No one ever wants to admit they’re a fan of anything by Lindsay Lohan, whether it’s movies, television guest appearances, her doomed show on OWN and especially her music. “Edge of Seventeen” was originally recorded by Stevie Nicks for her 1981 album Bella Donna. The song reached 11 on the Billboard Top 100. Lohan’s version was released on her 2005 album A Little More Personal (Raw). She performed the song live at the 2005 American Music Awards and has been known to sing the song at karaoke.
8. “Your <3 Is My Drug” by Ke$ha
No one wants to admit to actually liking Ke$ha (or any artist with a stylized name for that matter) and she may not be the best singer (many of her songs are recorded in a “sing-speak” style) who has ever recorded, but she does have a knack for writing and recording fun dance tunes. Her third single, from her 2010 album debut album Animal, “Your Love Is My Drug,” (stylized, of course, as “Your <3 Is My Drug”) is a fun song that most people falling in love, lust or obsession can relate to. The song hit number 28 on the Billboard Top 100 List.
7. “Billionaire” by Travie McCoy
Before his hit song “Billionaire”, which was released in 2010, singer Travis “Travie” McCoy was known for two things. 1) Formerly dating pop star Katy Perry. 2) Being the lead singer of Gym Class Heroes. When the Heroes were on a three-year break, McCoy recorded his solo effort Lazarus. “Billionaire” is a guilty pleasure because it name drops (“Oprah and The Queen”) and has a really great hook that most people can relate to. Who doesn’t aspire to be a billionaire? While it sounds like McCoy wrote the hit himself, the song was actually written by Bruno Mars.
6. “Royals” by Lorde
“Royals” by Lorde was the breakout hit of last summer. When the song was first released, most people had no idea that the New Zealand singer was only sixteen years old. Wise beyond her years, the lyrics make a profound statement about wealth, although we see the irony in a song about not having money made Lorde quite rich and famous. This song is a guilty pleasure for those two reasons. However, even authorities on music, such as Spin Magazine, can’t help but acknowledge Lorde, giving “Royals” the number fifteen spot on their Top Fifty Songs of 2013 list.
5. “Autobiography” by Ashlee Simpson
We all learned Ashlee Simpson couldn’t sing on October 23rd 2004, the night she had her now infamously doomed Saturday Night Live appearance, where she lip-synched due to a technical error. However, her 2004 album Autobiography, contained the titular song as well as many other deliciously guilty pleasures. “Autobiography” wasn’t released as a single, but it was used as the theme song of her MTV reality show, The Ashlee Simpson Show. Written by former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi, who is also known for writing hit songs for many artists, including Pink and Christina Aguilera, “Autobiography” captures a new level of angst with incensed lyrics and Simpson’s unpolished voice.
4. “Follow Your Arrow” By Kacey Musgraves
“Follow Your Arrow” by Kacey Musgraves has such brilliantly formulaic lyrics, you can’t help but love and relate to this song. Being a country song, it’s automatically a guilty pleasure. The song was part of Musgraves’ 2013 album, Same Trailer, Different Park. Does the title of the album not sound like a guilty pleasure in itself? With lyrics like: “If you save yourself for marriage/You’re a bore/If you don’t save yourself for marriage/You’re a horrible person/If you won’t have a drink/Then you’re a prude/But they’ll call you a drunk/As soon as you down the first one,” you know this song screams guilty pleasure. The point of the song is to be true to yourself and admitting you enjoy this guilty pleasure tune is the first step.
3. “Jane Fonda” by Mickey Avalon
You may not recognize the title of the song (other than knowing the name of the actress it refers to) or the name Mickey Avalon, but when you hear it you will. The song was used in a Sprint mobile commercial, on the HBO Show Entourage, and in the movies I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell and The Rebound. Any song with the name of a celebrity is a guilty pleasure and Avalon himself as an artist is a guilty pleasure. This is for two reasons. The first is that he is a white rapper. Other than Eminem, being white and a rapper makes an artist an easy target. The second reason is that the content of the song is so incredibly self-effacing. If you want to hear an even guiltier pleasure of Avalon’s, check out “So Rich, So Pretty.”
2. “Mama’s Broken Heart” by Miranda Lambert
Combing booze, anger and a good breakup song can help a girl get over a bad relationship. Why fake it? Why pretend to be anything other than crazy when it happens? “Mama’s Broken Heart” answers these two questions. Country always means guilty pleasure and Lambert is a country singer and technically, “Mama’s Broken Heart” is a country song. However, at the 2013 ACM awards, Lambert rocked out, transforming herself into a combination of a Stepford Wife and Courtney Love, owning it like no other. It’s outside of the mainstream for both country and rock fans, who just don’t want to openly admit their love for this song, which reached twenty on The Billboard Top 100 and two on the country charts.
1. “We Are Never Ever, Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift is good at writing songs as she is destroying relationships. Every song she writes is about a guy she’s been in a relationship with. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, from her 2012 album Red, is no exception to this. It’s a pop song, with a great hook, where Ms. Swift talks about never wanting anything to do with her boyfriend again. This song isn’t how the cool kids are breaking up, which Swift even cops to in her lyrics: “And you would hide away and find your peace of mind/ With some indie record that’s much cooler than mine.” It’s about how the strong women are. If you were wondering which of the many boyfriends of Swift’s this song is about, reportedly, it’s about actor Jake Gyllenhaal.