Why So Serious?

I love the National Treasure movies starring Nic Cage. I love Cast Away, starring the master of playing the common man with a heart of gold, Tom Hanks. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in the hilarious Step Brothers? Yup, love that too. None of these movies were the darlings of the Cannes Film Festival nor do they appear on any “greatest movies of all time” lists. Seriously, Cage hasn’t been considered a true thespian since appearing in Leaving Las Vegas back when he was still somewhat palatable. These films do have one thing in common though, they’re my cinematic guilty pleasures.

Occasionally, its nice to slip into an implausible and saccharine movie or book and just kick back, unconcerned about complicated plot twists or some metaphorical scene that requires interpretation. Sometimes I just want to chill and get lost in some silliness. Being a movie snob normally, it can be refreshing and serenity-inducing to just let my mind relax a little and just laugh and suspend disbelief for a spell.

Guilty pleasures in novels are no different. While I almost always require a book to engage me on an intellectual level or with some scintillating prose (Cormac McCarthy), there are other times when I prefer to crack open a Lee Child or John Grisham book. Child’s drifter and tough-as-nails do-gooder, Jack Reacher and Grishams underdog, small-time country lawyer, radiant with a dollop of southern charm, both take me on a voyage that’s always fun and full of entertaining yet predictable twists and turns. That’s what’s enjoyable about guilty pleasure reading, you know going in that you aren’t reading esteemed literature that might appear on the Bloomsbury top 100 novels but you also realize that you can’t stop turning the pages.

My love of music follows a similar pattern as books and movies. When you predominately listen to heavy and thought-provoking lyrics, songs that rattle around in your soul, hell-bent on finding weakness, it can become a tad burdensome and draining. Sometimes you just need a break from the darkness. When I indulge in a guilty pleasure or three, musically speaking, potent lyrics are not a prerequisite. Whether it’s a slick harmony, a badass guitar riff or a strange pulsating rhythm, these songs let me slip out of my usual seriousness and let me slide into some toe-tapping goodness.

The four songs below are all guilty pleasures of mine and without listening to them at least occasionally, I’d probably be in a psyche ward muttering to the padded white walls about the meaning of Radiohead’s Creep or something.

Every time I listen to this, I envision myself putting on a leather coat, grabbing a pool cue and heading to some smoky, dimly-lit bar and knocking some balls across the felt. Plus its a two-woman bluesy rock band with a somewhat diluted White Stripes sound. Yes, please.

I challenge anyone to listen to this with a frown on their face, I don’t think it’s physically possible. That simplistic yet catchy guitar riff just reels me in. Throw in a voice that’s unique and harmonious and I can’t help but turn the volume up with every listen.

Easily one of the sexiest voices in rock, every word is tinged with a carnal undertone. Kind of a throwback to eighties rock but with a more nuanced sound, this song is just cool as hell. Plus they’re British and that’s always a good thing.

There’s really no point in trying to explain why I love this song, it’s essentially the antithesis of my usual choices in music. All I know is that while I’m listening to this, my right leg crosses my left leg and the lone foot dangling in air bounces up and down, up and down.

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