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 411mania » Music » Columns

The 411 Music Top Five 1.20.14: Top 5 Guilty Pleasure Songs of 2013
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 01.20.2014


Criteria: We at 411 Music Headquarters are being brave this week, as we unspool our guilty pleasure songs over the past twelve months. Now, come on...you guys have to admit, there are songs you jammed to that you wouldn't want anyone to know you did. That's what we're looking at this week: out favorite songs that we enjoyed, but might not want to admit that we enjoyed (or at least that others might look at us askance over; some of us are truly "guilt-free" as it were).


5. Fall Out Boy - "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light 'Em Up)"

Fall Out Boy announced their big return about a year ago and unleashed this beast of a song on us. I was skeptical at first; I was a big fan of the on their first go 'round but would happily admit their last album saw the band finish on a sour note. But this song is brilliant, the comeback album features some of their best work yet. Somewhere in the last five years, Fall Out Boy matured to a solid rock band, shedding their entire emo reputation bar the long and wacky song titles.

4. Paramore - "Still Into You"

Paramore is another band I will never not jump to the defence of. I've followed them for nearly a decade, prior to the release of debut All We Know is Falling and I've always liked their music. From their 2013 self-titled album, lead single "Now" dropped and had even my eyebrows raised. But then came "Still Into You" and all was instantly forgiven. It's very pop--even for Paramore--and it's incredibly bubblegum, video and all. But it's a brilliantly fun and catchy song and I will make no apologies for liking it.

3. James Arthur - "You're Nobody Til Somebody Loves You"

James Arthur was the winner of the UK version of talent show X Factor in 2012. See, he was innocent-looking enough that he appealed to the middle-aged women who watched the show, and he was hipster enough to appeal to the young fans of the show. His voice is actually quite unique for a pop star and even I couldn't deny his first post-X Factor single was a thing of beauty. He got himself into a lot of trouble in 2013 for generally being a douche and his success was hampered because of it, but the music's solid. If he wasn't an X Factor alumni, this wouldn't be on the list.

2. Miley Cyrus - "Wrecking Ball"

I'm not sure how well this is going to go down because actually, I've read quite a few respectable critics give this song praise, particularly the vocal work from Cyrus. Yes, she's a massive attention-seeking bint, but is this a good pop song? Absolutely. The video, by the way, is absolutely horrendous and represents all that is wrong with the mainstream pop scene in 2013/14. But I can't really fault the song. Sure, it's a bit corny at times. But it's good vocal work, has a mammoth chorus and it isn't about partying/drinking/fucking/getting high/being cool, which is always a bonus for a Miley song.

1. Justin Timberlake - "Mirrors"

Does Justin Timberlake still qualify as a guilty pleasure any more or have we just accepted that actually, JT has taken over the throne of King of Pop and is wearing it with unapologetic swagger. Sure, he was in NSync and he dated Britney but at the end of the day there isn't a truly mainstream male pop artist, or a pop artist of any genre, creating music quite like Justin Timberlake did in 2013. Most impressive is lead single from The 20/20 Experience - "Mirrors" is just an amazing bit of songwriting and stands out as the year's best pop single. It's embarrassing to think this had to share radio play with the likes of Robin Thicke and "Blurred Lines," quite frankly.


Honorable Mention: Miley Cyrus - "Wrecking Ball," Capital Cities - "Safe and Sound," Katy Perry - "Dark Horse," Ciara - "Body Party"

5. Ke$ha - "C'mon"

Released at the very beginning of 2013, this song just barely made the list. The hook is what got me. I just can't stop liking this song, and that's ok. The auto tune is kept to a minimum. There are the usual "party all night" lyrics that unfortunately plague Ke$ha's discography but it feels inoffensive here. It has a feel-good vibe that makes you dance to it.

4. Korn - "Never Never"

This is definitely the most out there song on my list. So why is it on here? Well, does anyone actually like Korn anymore? After the Nu-Metal phase of rock abruptly ended in 2003, it became a sin to even bring up a band like Korn. To be fair though, you all should be a shame for making some of the shit out of that era famous (looking at you, Limp Biscuit).

3. One Direction- "Best Song Ever"

Okay, this is where I turn in my man card. There is footage out there of me singing and dancing to this song (damn blackmail). It's certainly not the best song ever like it's titled. It is, however, infectiously catchy and fun.

2. Britney Spears - "Perfume"

I was pleasantly surprised when I first heard this song. It's very rare these days you hear a non-autotuned song come from William produced Britney Spears. While it's not quite a ballad, it's damn close. Do you realize how weird it is to say it's refreshing to hear Britney Spears voice strain to hit a note? Very weird is the answer. It's a guilty pleasure of course because no man should enjoy a song about a woman singing about women making other women jealous with perfume.

1. Miley Cyrus - "We Can't Stop"

For some reason, it is a crime to love Miley Cyrus. I will admit that I love Miley Cyrus and all of her antics. Maybe it's because I grew up around the ghetto girls who twerked before it was called twerking. This song has some fantastic production from newcomer Mike Will Made It. You can't help but sing along to the chorus, no matter how heinous and ill-mannered it is. I say "good job" to Miley Cyrus for making me on spend $1.29 on this song. In fact, I should probably put her whole album Bangerz on here. It's just one big cluster fuck of dirty fun.


5. Cassadee Pope - "Wasting All These Tears"

There is no reason whatsoever that I should love this song. It's country-pop, a genre that I usually have an incredibly high level of derision for. And yet, I can't help but love this one. Part of that reason is very obvious: I'm a watcher of The Voice and I was a big supporter of Pope during her season three run that led to her becoming the first female winner on the show. But more to the point, I really kind of like the arrangement here; it straddles that line between country and pop in a way that seems more honest and authentic than many other acts do. Pope has a fantastic voice and, well, there's a reason that she became the first Voice winner to find legitimate success after her time on the show. The rest of her debut album isn't quite as good, but I really enjoy this one.

4. Lisa Loeb - "The '90s"

Talk about a pandering song. Lisa Loeb has never quite reached the level of success she found in the 1990s, not that she needs to. She's always been one of my favorite artists and she's done quite well for herself, even if she isn't dominating Billboard. But when I saw the title of this single, I knew two things. First, I knew that it was designed to draw people who used to love her back in with a call for the nostalgia of the '90s. And second, that I would love it. And both of those were true. While it isn't the kind of song that makes overt references to 1990s pop culture (it is more about Loeb thinking back on her own fame and experiences in the era), it definitely paints a portrait of that decade that will appeal to most people who loved that era. So while I kinda hate that Loeb was so upfront with her "Hey, remember when I did 'Stay?'" moment, I also kinda love what she did with the song.

3. Fall Out Boy - "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light 'Em Up)"

I was never a big Fall Out Boy fan. They were a bit too over the top with their emo for my tastes, and I had never looked forward to an album from them. I didn't look forward to Save Rock & Roll either; in fact, I kinda hated that title until I realized that it was a distinctly tongue-in-cheek phrase. Here's the thing though; with that album they actually did a lot to further rock's revival. And foremost of that was "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light 'Em Up)," a pretty epic song with an equally epic (if ridiculous) title. It's the kind of thing you try to turn your nose up to because it's what you expect teenagers in high school to listen to. But it also seriously rocks.

2. Lady Gaga - "Sexxx Dreams"

This thing is tailor-made to be hated. First off it's from Lady Gaga, who has a pretentiousness level so high that it's no longer measured from zero to one hundred; it's measure from zero to Gaga. Add in the intentional misspelling of the title and the overt, almost panderingly sexual lyrics and you had a song that could have been an utter disaster and isn't the kind of song that you want to be heard belting out in your car. (Though I imagine it's pretty funny to see someone else belting it out in their car.) Here's the thing though; while you'll never catch me singing this on my way down the street, I absolutely love it. The production is top-notch and it's a fun, heavy disco-electronica number which doesn't have any problems getting you into a groove and then throwing it off with sudden shifts in the momentum. I even like the point where it breaks off into Gaga speaking; that is usually a song-killer for me but I love it here. Gaga is queen of the guilty pleasure.

1. Fitz & The Tantrums - "More Than Just a Dream"

I really hesitate to call this a "guilty pleasure" because I'm really not very guilty about it. I have absolutely zero problem bouncing my head as I walk down the street with my iTouch delivering the cotton-candy sweetness of this number to my brain. So why is it #1 on my list? Quite simply this: this isn't the kind of music that music writers are really supposed to like. It's so poppy, so upbeat and so unabashedly over-the-top sugary. It's a song that is designed to be derided as "hollow and happy" or other such things. It's such an infectiously fun song though that I can't help but love it. Any of my critical cynicism just washes away and I get a groove going in my mind when it starts playing, making it my favorite guilty pleasure song of the year.

As always, the last thoughts come from you, the reader. We're merely unpaid monkeys with typewriters and Wikipedia. Here's what you need to do: List your Top Five for this week's topic on the comment section using the following format:

5. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
4. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
3. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
2. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
1. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it


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