Guilty Pleasures

The first proper Charlywood blog is dedicated to a topic that most of us have to deal with throughout our lives. The compartmentalisation of people based on their music taste and even worse, the restriction of our musical taste based on who we think we are (or who we want to be) as people.

For most of us our musical taste begins in our pre-teen years and it is an important part of the vital process of identifying ourselves as separate individuals to our parents. We start to choose the music that touches us and that we identify with and for most people (especially musicians) it is a big part of what makes us who we are as adults.

However, there is a dark and disadvantageous side to this. Somewhere during this process we start to use the music that people enjoy to label each other, many people I knew as a teenager even went so far as to instantly reject people as potential friends based on their musical taste.

I always thought of this as a bit of a shame but I guess that this is just another aspect of this process of finding out who you are, humans need to feel like they belong to groups and music is a very convenient way of doing this.

Then adulthood dawns (or punches you in the teeth as the case may be) and music becomes less central to most peoples lives (unless they are musos) as responsibilities and other demands take their attention to other things. However, this teenage process leaves us slightly crippled as adults when it comes to the kinds of music that we allow ourselves to experience.

I can use my musical history to illustrate what I mean:

My critical teenage years were spent listening to (and sometimes playing) Nirvana, the Foo fighters, Mud honey, Dinosaur junior, Pearl jam, Sound garden, NIN and the like. I had the appropriate haircut and dressed in tattered flannel shirts. You could have pigeon-holed me into the “grunge” category.

A person with a similar musical history may then identify with certain attitudes and emotions and even after peer pressure has lessened in adult life they will not let themselves enjoy certain types of music because there is an attitude as to what it is cool and acceptable to like. Maybe you secretly enjoy something but keep quiet about it because other people might judge you for it. These are the guilty pleasures.

The major problem I have with this phenomenon is that calling them guilty pleasures suggests that there is something bad about this music. It’s not like allowing certain types of music into our ears will give us lung cancer or make us clinically obese (unlike the guilty pleasures of smoking or over-eating) Music is just a collection of organised sounds that touch us emotionally or physically or not. End of story.

It is something we experience subjectively and we really shouldn’t deny ourselves the potential pleasure it can bring to our lives just because we think it doesn’t fit with our own construction of who we are, or worse, who we want others to THINK we are (lies and deception!!!!).

There plenty of things in life that it may be useful to feel guilty about because we will may get some health benefits from changing them but music certainly isn’t one of them! Just open your ears and your mind and if you like it let it happen.

I will finish with a quote from Dave Grohl, who has this to say about guilty pleasures in an interview with Marc Maron:

“I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, if you f*cking like something, LIKE IT! (…) don’t f*cking think it’s not cool to like Britney Spear’s “Toxic”, it is f*cking cool to like Britney Spears Toxic, why not!?”

So what do you say internet? Are there any pieces of music that you love but you know that you are not “supposed” to? Let me know in the comments below.


Charlywood out

The Grohl inteview in full can be heard here

Listen to the music that Charlywood make here


10 thoughts on “Guilty Pleasures

    • Hey Kerstin, I salute you for stepping up and being the first! I get a lot of raised eyebrows when I say how much I enjoyed some of the tracks off Christina Aguilera’s Back to Basics album 😉

    • I’d choose Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials tolrigy and Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, I think. More contemporary: There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff was fun but also thought-provoking.

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