The “guilty pleasures” of Noise Pollution…


Guilty – Adjective                               “Culpable of or responsible for a specified wrongdoing.”

Pleasure – Noun                                             “a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment.”

Guilty pleasure – Noun               “Something, such as a film, television programme, or piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard.”

I was recently asked about my “guilty pleasure” music..  The truth is, I don’t have a guilty pleasure, because when it comes to the enjoyment of art, why should I feel guilty about it?

I love music, and a good song is a good song.  Yes, I’m a “rock and metal guy” first and foremost, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t or can’t enjoy a pop song or a country song if there is something there that appeals to me.  Because at the end of the day, I’m actually just “a music guy”.  I have an extensive CD and vinyl collection, and it contains a very eclectic range of genres and styles – from the most extreme metal, to thrash, hard rock, blues, soul, rap, comedy, pop, country, classical and a bit of everything in between.

I have no issues with listening to Cannibal Corpse in one moment, and throwing on a bit of Prince the next, and I’m sure my inner six year old still thinks “Hangin’ Tough” by New Kids On the Block is the best song ever.  My moods dictate the music that I want to hear at the time.  And for every instance that calls for “Hammer Smashed Face”, there’s a time that calls for “Dancing Queen”.  It’s as simple as that really.

I posed the guilty pleasure question to Trapped In Wax columnist, Karl Mautner, and he backed up my thoughts.  “I’ve never really subscribed to the ‘guilty pleasures’ concept – a good song is a good song and life’s too short to be embarrassed about enjoying something that moves you. In my early teens when I was getting into heavy metal and then punk in my late teens, I always loved 70s and 80s pop, so those songs that others maybe perceived as less credible were always a source of joy and inspiration for me. I can always justify why I like something by extolling it’s merits, whether that be a vocal melody, production quality or guitar/keyboard riff, so I don’t feel like there are any songs that I need to feel guilty about liking…it’s not like I’m listening to fucking ‘Barbie Girl’ or some garbage like that. That being said, people might disagree that Oliva Newton-John has any merit…”

Brisbane based writer, Greg Noble, offered up his thoughts on the subject as well, listing two artists that some might consider guilty pleasures, but he has no qualms about enjoying.  “Two immediately leapt to mind, whether they are rock or not is up for debate, but they’re certainly not metal…

The B-52s. “Rock Lobster” was enormous when I was youngish – I always admired the guitar work. A mate taught me to play guitar using Rammstein songs and I finally got the courage to have a crack at it when I got a little better. It was done on a really strange setup, oddly tuned and on four strings – taking 2 out. I was right – it was tough, but a blast to play. I saw them twice in concert – 1990 or so and a year or two ago. They were awesome live. My beautiful wife and I had “Follow Your Bliss” playing as we left the church at our wedding. No, the church didn’t catch fire with me being in it.

Prince. I didn’t join the bandwagon until the “1999” album. His innovation and creativity was boundless and that he played nearly every instrument was mind-blowing. He is probably the most under-rated guitarist of all. Look up his performance of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” to see him play at his best. We saw him in concert in 1991 or so and it was incredible – engaging, clever and inspirational. I read an interview with him and he said that his music was like a newspaper – meant to be consumed in that moment. He lost me near the end, as his music evolved faster than my taste and, well, because he made odd decisions and went went a little crazy. His music is still on high rotation in my car.”

He goes on to add, “I also agree with the other comments – music is never a guilty pleasure – we should listen to what we need in that moment.”

The newest contributor to the Noise Pollution team, “Scary” (from Scared Wolf Reviews) is a metal head through and through, but when hit with the guilty pleasure question, he had no problem in extolling the virtues of techno and pop; “I love fusion, swing, lounge – it’s just good to sit back with a drink or dance to.  I can even enjoy just a little touch of techno or big beat like The Prodigy. I even enjoy some pop. I find Madonna’s Frozen to be her best work.”

As I dug deeper on the subject, I was happy to hear my sentiments echoed by my peers. Personally, I used to be of the belief that country music was terrible.  I literally wanted nothing to do with it, but then my eyes and ears were forced open to it.  I spent a lot of time on camping and fishing trips with an uncle of mine who listened to NOTHING but country.  Now because our trips were always in his vehicle, he had control of the music – and over the course of many 4 hour plus trips, I discovered that country singers told tales – and always fairly relatable tales at that.  I don’t find much to enjoy within modern country music, but the older artists such as Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and of course Johnny Cash, are all amazing.  And then there’s Slim Dusty – an absolute king of Australian music, and a storyteller who is virtually unmatched.

NP writer, Estefan Malgret offered; “Apart from metal genres I actually like older songs. Those which have a jazzy or blues or soul tone to it. I love artists like James Brown. I think it’s very old-school and it just has this retro feeling.”

She adds “Another would be classical music. I actually am fond of opera and theatre music. I listen repeatedly to “La Donna I mobile” and “Ave Maria” for some reason. And I think contemporary musicals have very poetic lyrics. This I discovered through musical films from Disney though.”

Even our film editor, Rick Trewin, had something to offer here.  “I grew up on classic rock, but when Nu Metal became huge in the early 90’s, it opened my eyes to rap music, and I went down a major hip hop rabbit hole.  Still to this day, I play albums like The Chronic and Doggystyle, almost as often as I listen to Pantera.”

He continues “There’s an attitude to the music that actually has a lot in common with metal, and I’m down with that.  Oh, and it’s not really a “guilty pleasure”, because I don’t feel guilty about it at all!”

Now, I’m never going to fly the flag for the likes of Justin Bieber, but if that’s what people are in to, then more power to them.  The music or art that you enjoy does not make you any less of a person in my eyes.  As long as you’re not hurting anybody, do what makes you happy, and that includes the music that you listen to, the films you watch, the food you eat…

Whatever music you listen to, it’s all just Noise Pollution in somebody’s eyes, so turn it up, and shamelessly enjoy!

-The Noise Pollution team

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