Apr 24, 2014

Posted by in 3 Songs | 0 Comments

3 Songs: “Cheesecake Brownie” Edition

There are some guilty pleasures that I’ll cop to without shame. I’ve seen every episode of American Dad, for instance. Or—here’s a good one—somewhere in my CD files, I still own the ska-filled soundtrack to the Digimon Movie. With the digi-rap. I’m not even kidding.

But there are also guilty pleasures I actually feel guilty about. I call these cheesecake brownies, because while you know they’re awful in every conceivable way, you just can’t say no. And because I apparently do not worry about ruining my reputation as a credible music snob, here are three of my truly guilty pleasure songs.

We Are Young
Once upon a time I actually owned 3OH!3’s first album, mostly because a guy I had a crush on liked them and I was 20 and that’s what 20-year-olds do. The two dudebros behind 3OH!3 are almost pathologically stupid—for proof, just look at how many times they’ve collaborated with Ke$ha, never mind the fact that their biggest hit is both sexist and ableist—but “We Are Young,” the first single from their sophomore release, has just the right drum beat to appeal to the part of me that still thinks like a dance choreographer. That’s actually a common theme in a lot of my guilty pleasures, including the next one:

Safety Dance (Glee Version)
Oh, gawd, I KNOW. I know. Believe me. I’m a music critic, a pop culture scholar, and have been a member of actual choirs since the tenth grade; I know Glee is fucking ridiculous. But the first season was a legitimately fun little exercise in jukebox musicals, and I downloaded the songs from each week’s show just like everyone else. While I eventually abandoned the majority of those homogenized kidz-bop covers, the Kevin McHale-helmed version of The Safety Dance remained. I love the original—who doesn’t?—but the Glee take on it is snappier, less minimalistic, and just a little bit quicker in tempo, and conveys a truly joyful sense of energy. I still plan to choreograph a dance piece to this version, and I don’t care what anyone says; it may be Glee, but they did this one right.

Rockin’ the Suburbs (Over the Hedge version)
The original Rockin’ the Suburbs is a scathing and on-point criticism of privileged white guys, because Ben Folds is actually a pretty talented lyricist. It calls out the hypocrisy of the misery bemoaned by the upper-middle class, who have so much more going for them but are always the first (and loudest) to complain when things don’t go their way. Then Folds rewrote it, and several of his other songs, for a shitty Dreamworks movie that starred William Shatner.

The new version of Rockin’ the Suburbs is just as homogenized as you’d expect; instead of blistering social commentary on privilege (ya’ll don’t know what it’s like / being male, middle class and white) it’s far cutesier in precisely that Dreamworks way, where it’s not offensively stupid but can’t possibly be intelligent (Don’t freak about the smoke alarm / Mom left the TV dinner on).

Then, at around 2:15, something magical happens. Because that’s when The Shatner Himself appears on the track, and segues into an absolutely brilliant monologue that perfectly captures the passive-aggressiveness of suburban neighbourhood life. For over a minute and a half we get to listen to Captain Kirk talk about house plans, mowing the lawn, and anger management classes, and it’s just fucking amazing, I can’t even. It’s worth every second of pop blandness that surrounds it.

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  1. 3 Songs: “Guilty Pleasures I’m Not Really Guilty About” edition | Particles and Waves - […] my last post, I talked about some of the songs I’m legitimately embarrassed to love. This post has no…

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