Anyone who knows me well will tell you that one of my biggest personal weaknesses is my tendency to be ashamed too often. I can march out in a rut if I'm embarrassed over the slightest thing. It's, er, embarrassing really.
Nevertheless I'd say this makes me a bit of an expert on embarrassment. By my standards the type of material that's ended up in this meme-feature (which I've nicked from, who caught it via, who took it from the source; since Dial M didn't "tag it along" I'm stealing it unbidden) is pathetic. Ridiculous. Practically none of it is shameful, properly shameful.
Let me guide you into the world of real shame. And present my list of guilty listening pleasures.
Every single one of us, except I guess psychopaths and some low-level autists, follow codes. More or less conscious systems of how we understand the world, act and present ourselves to others – moral codes, political ideologies, manners, aesthetic systems of taste. Most of us, I hope, try to keep these codes as logically consistent as we can, and consider it a bit hypocritical if we go about breaking them. We deride the social democratic politician who drives fancy cars. We deride the hell-fire preacher who sleeps with church aides.
That hypocrisy is the sole centre of shame. Because as long as what you do is defensible by your own standards, you've got nothing to be ashamed about. It's only once you start "sinning" (I put it in quotation marks, but to a Christian it really is sinning) against them that you're really doing something embarrassing. So I get embarrassed when, say, I have to be pushy. Or if I get caught breaking a rule. Or something like that.
Songs to be ashamed of are thus indefensible songs. Songs that you like despite the fact that they run against all your principles of what's good and bad music. They're not songs you used to like, but don't any more – as evangelical Christians will tell you, a dirty past is merely a good thing. They're not songs you downloaded for "study purposes" or some friend sent you. They're not songs everyone else thinks are embarrassing but that you justifiability like.
My five embarrassing tunes would go something like this:
The Beatles – Helter Skelter: I've repeatedly and strongly stated my dislike of the White Album and of all music that acts as an ironic pastiche of something else. Here the fab four (on what's actually the oldest MP3 on my hard drive, from 2000) take the mickey out of the harder rock that starts appearing around then, and they do it in a strung-out hippie manner that I find abhorrent. Yet the track is actually really good to my ears, that seem not to care about content as much as my stomach usually does.
Am Adolf Hitler Platz: Sent to me by some idiot once, but it doesn't matter. I defend abhorrent lyrics in songs I like by appealing to the right of expression of oppressed groups, or to veracity in reporting about far-off places, or to allowing people the right to develop without our interference. None of these apply here. This is just total nasty Nazi shit. Catchy though!
Talvin Singh – Butterfly: What's not wrong with this one? First, it's worldbeat, fu-u-u-using fucking annoying Quawwali, okinawan music, sitars and intelligent drum and bass, which is another pet hate of mine. It's got new age synth pads! Indie people love it! It also happens to be particularly energetic and imaginative, but I simply can't defend loving this one.
Blur – Song 2: Okay, now I'll descend into vitriol for a while. I hate cackling YBAish devil-may-care hipster band Blur. I hate smug obfuscationist Damon Albarn and his Malian cohorts. I hate simply everything about the album Parklife. I also bear a slight dislike of overplayed songs that everyone can sing along to. This is good though, and as someone on the comments thread says: Reminds me of Fifa 98. Which I guess is an embarassing reason for liking a song, too.
Cold Blood – Kissing My Love: Hippies. Tasteful jazz-funk. Screaming white women pretending to be black. I'm totally, utterly, wordlessly embarassed by this one, all the more so for the fact that I just don't like this track, I love it endlessly and sing and dance along as I'm typing this. Dang-EEH-EEH-dang dang!
I tried to find entries I liked from Radiohead, Frank Zappa, Massive Attack, 3 Feet High and Rising-era De La Soul and Sly and the Family Stone, but gave up coz all of their music is S-H-I-T-E. I've also really tried disliking Beans from Antipop Conspiracy, The Grateful Dead and Eric B & Rakim, but it turns out I'm not actually embarassed by them at all.
I now "tag this along" to everyone in the world ever, 'cause I don't like clubs.