OPEN THREAD: Music You’re Embarrassed To Love

At least 2 – 3 times per month I receive a formspring question or comment from a reader who feels ashamed for enjoying a particular song or artist, usually as either a result of their own conscience or of shit-talk from friends. Some examples sitting in my inbox right now:

“Is it okay that I really, really love Ke$ha?”
“My girlfriend makes fun of me for listening to Katy Perry”
“I know I shouldn’t love Kreayshawn but I can’t help it. Is that bad?”
“Should I feel guilty for liking Miley Cyrus?”

I thought rather than write a preachy two-thousand word article about how everyone should own their jams and fuck all the haters (okay honestly that essay has been written, it’s sitting in drafts where it’ll stay), how about we all just ‘fess up to the ‘uncool’ music we love and help make these guilt-ridden question-askers feel less alone. Hit us with your worst in the comments section below.

Of course, I don’t expect anyone to publicly tarnish their music cred without doing it myself first. Here’s a list of the most ’embarrassing’ songs found on my iPod, as chosen/determined by the biggest music snob I know. I love all of them.

No Shame


Tik Tok – Ke$ha
Honey To The Bee – Billie Piper
When The Lights Go Out – 5ive
Why Not – Hilary Duff
Predictable – Good Charlotte
Leave Out All The Rest – Linkin Park
Candy – Mandy Moore
We Got The Party (With Us) – Hannah Montana ft. The Jonas Bros
Step By Step – New Kids On The Block
Rock God – Selena Gomez & The Scene
Pointless Relationship – Tammin Sursok
We’re All In This Together – High School Musical cast
Sk8er Boi – Avril Lavigne
Ninja Rap – Vanilla Ice

You can listen to the playlist here, if you want to? It’s fine if you don’t want to. 

What are your guilty pleasures? What do you think makes a certain artist embarrassing and/or uncool? Is it because they don’t write their own music, or because their poster is on your 11-year old niece’s bedroom wall? Is it because they wrote a song for a Twilight soundtrack or because Pitchfork gave their album 3/10, or even 10/10? Why do we rank some of these things as more embarrassing than others?

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Founding member. Former writer. Still loves Autostraddle with her whole heart.

Crystal has written 320 articles for us.


  1. I’m more of an indie/electropop kind of girl but I also love these “cheesy” songs:

    The Moffats – I’ll Be There For You, Miss You Like Crazy, If Life Is So Short, Girl of My Dreams
    Aqua – Barbie Girl, Dr. Jones
    A*Teens – Sugar Rush, Halfway Around The World, Upside-Down
    Boyzone – Love Me For A Reason
    Enrique Iglesias – Do You Know?
    Lindsay Lohan – Ultimate
    M2M – Don’t Say You Love Me, Everything You Do
    The Pussycat Dolls – Buttons
    S Club 7 – Bring It All Back
    t.A.T.u. – All the Things She Said

  2. My days are spent working alone in various different labs so GrooveShark is my constant companion. My current playlist consists entirely of NIN, Rammstein, Bill Bailey and Tim Minchin. It seems to work.

    I have to laugh, 5-10 yrs ago I didn’t have ‘guilty pleasure music’ because I took such things way too seriously in HS. Then I realized that pop is short for popular for a reason and life is too damn short to not listen to songs that make you happy. Besides, I never really understood the appeal of Morrissey anyway.

  3. Wow, reading some of these is bring back memories (good and bad). Even though I dont listen to them much anymore, Spice Girls, Lindsey Lohan, TATU, S Club 7 and Aqua, which was the first CD i ever bought at like, age 7, are all ones I use to listen to growing up. My embarrassing one though is the entire rap genre, and not just hip hop but gangsta rap and stuff. Ive moved past that but still have all the CDs as proof. Also, Vengaboys make regular appearances in my club playlist but im not ashamed of that.

  4. Mainly, the kind of bad emo music I listened to while I was 12-13 and realized I liked girls (or, you know, one particular girl. I fell so fucking hard for her, and I was so ashamed of it.) So: Tokio Hotel, My Chemical Romance, Evanescence and The Used. Before this, I basically never listened to music, so the whole emo thing was both my introduction to music, and the only way I was able to bear the thought of being gay. I don’t think I will ever be able to part with it, because nothing had ever felt so right, so me, before.

  5. Does anyone else remember All Saints? British girl group from the late ’90s. I loved the shit out of their song “Never Ever.”

    Also Ace of Base and Natalie Imbruglia.

    P.S. I am listening to this playlist right bow and Mandy Moore “Candy” is on and I had completely forgotten this song until right now but I loved the shit out of it when it came out. Clearly I have very mature taste in music.

  6. oh god, oh heaven preserve us
    i had the biggest crush on mandy moore at 14 and i actually might still
    as far as music i’m embarrassed of
    i’m usually worried my music is too weird for the crowd i hang out with
    joanna newsom is high on my list of music i don’t tell people about

  7. I don’t know if wrestling fans remember, but Hulk Hogan had an album out in the mid 90’s. I was a hulkamaniac back then, so I didn’t care if the Hulkster was terrible at music. I keep it on my iPod for memories.

  8. I like this:

    Because I liked her first songs when I was way younger and honestly I like how it sounds, it makes me… happy. Also, it’s kind of kitsch and I just loved her clothes and I still like it. I like how she used to act as if she was a friend of her fans, and her personal story of having wanted to be a dancer but breaking her leg in a bad way. (also she was cute)
    I’m ashamed because adults I looked up to basically called me a “future s…” for listening to it. Others I looked up to as well mocked it without insulting me, and it also played into the thing, but not as much. So yeah.
    I acknowledge that some of her songs are problematic, even at the time some bugged me (her song about everything she was worth, from the blue of her eyes to the blond of her hair, was for her man for example), but they weren’t saying it because of that but because these were simple songs and for kids. (now I realized if they really cared about it being problematic that way, they wouldn’t have said such a thing to a 11-years-old or to anyone.)
    They would listen to similar sounding songs, by similarly dressing singers, addressing similar themes in a less implied way, who aimed an adult audience.
    Also, she sort-of danced and it looked cool.
    Now I don’t like her new songs (even more problematic :/) because how it sound changed too much. I don’t know, it’s less simple? Less positive?
    There was this whole persona change at some point and she stopped looking like a friend of her younger audience.
    Also this:

    They were young enough that I could relate to them! (I wanted to be a singer. Except I never knew how to sing and was to shy to ask to take classes for that… meh.)
    I also do like some Avril Lavigne songs, too :) and of the S Club 7, Spice Girls, Aqua, Toy-Box.
    Only the S Club 7, the Spice Girls and Aqua I already knew at the time. It all makes me nostalgic :(

  9. I think I am most ashamed of the Glee albums I have in my itunes, for some reason I thought it would be a really good idea to get every album as they came out so now I cannot even put my ipod on random without getting annoyed. Also, I love Hanson and am 100% not ashamed of it at all. I do however have an obscene amount of John Mayer. And even though it is not on my ipod I just need to state that I hate that Rob Thomas/ Santana Smooth song and I feel like no matter how long ago it came out the radio still plays it ALL THE TIME.

  10. I am made of this. Get ready, ok? I feel like I need to preface this with some achievement, like that I read To Kill A Mockingbird when I was 9. That’s an achievement, right? Ok

    Nickelback. It’s good drunk music, which I think contributes to their popularity.

    Also Minaj’s Stupid Hoe (for some reason it’s the perfect song for FNV’s Old World Blues).

    Also Ke$ha.

    Going to the shame corner now.

  11. I get SO MUCH sh*t for this….. but I have always been a fan of Creed. No matter how badly I am ribbed by my nearest and dearest, I can’t bring myself to purge them from my collection.
    Human Clay was the second album I ever bought, thought I was going through a real ‘edgy’ self-defining phase. ***blushing a million shades of red***

  12. Bad country music. As in the kind of music that frequently gets played at state fairs.

    Proof of this? I have an entire playlist of covers of “Tomorrow” by Chris Young.

    I regret nothing.

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