All credit for this idea goes to Rachael, who came up with the concept in the car the other day when we were driving home from seeing family.
So, there are a lot of songs out there. Some of them happen to be really good songs. They’re catchy, or they’re beautiful, or there’s just something about them that makes you want to play them on repeat all the time.
Of course, playing a song over and over again helps you become extremely familiar with the ins and outs of it, and occasionally, that leads to a realization that those catchy lyrics have a few problems. Maybe the song’s reinforcing stereotypes, or it promotes abusive relationships. Whatever the reason, once you catch the problems with the song you just can stop thinking about them, and suddenly that ear worm that you love listening to on repeat becomes kind of a guilty pleasure, because you know it’s not quite right.
But you still like it.
So that’s what this list is: a collection of songs that are problematic, but I still like them.
1. “We Are Young” by Fun. – This is a sneaky anthem about the pitfalls of friendship as a young adult. Also, it depicts a relationship where a guy is physically abusive towards his girlfriend (My seat’s been taken by some sunglasses / Asking ’bout a scar. / I know I gave it to you months ago. / I’ve been tryin’ to forget, / But between the drinks and subtle things / the holes in my apologies / I’m trying hard to take it back). Whoops.
2. “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye – I can’t help loving the groove of this song. I also can’t help being really freaked out by the male speaker, since he’s apparently of the stalkerish persuasion with his refusal to accept that his ex has cut him out of her life by changing her phone number and avoiding all contact. Y’all are broken up; she doesn’t owe you a consolation friendship.
3. “Jealous Kind” by Jars of Clay – Part of the problem with evangelical culture is that much of it is predicated on a theology of abuse. God’s jealous that we would put anything before him, and he’s going to bust out some righteous wrath for our infidelity. Yeah, this is clearly rational and loving behavior. (Aside: the video I linked isn’t the best sound quality, but I was actually at the concert, which is nifty; also, my brother-in-law recorded the video, so double-bonus family points)
4. “Green and Grey” by Nickel Creek – You know what sucks? Being an awesome guy who gets everything he wants except for that one girl who just never noticed him no matter how hard he tried. It’s terrible. Also, it’s entitled and ridiculous.
5. “Code Monkey” by Jonathan Coulton – You remember that subplot from Love, Actually about the kid who has a crush on his classmate, and he wins her affections through sheer persistence? Yeah, that’s really creepy, and so is “Code Monkey’s” speaker who hangs out at the receptionist’s desk and pesters her all the time even though she’s just trying to do her job (which, unfortunately, requires her to always be nice to people, unlike the sulky code monkey). Yes, I feel really bad for the dude with low self esteem; I feel worse for his office crush who probably has to deal with all the lonely code monkeys hitting on her.
6. “Forever” by Chris Brown – Because it’s sung by Chris Brown.
7. “The Girl” by City and Colour – It’s great having a girlfriend who’s willing to put everything on hold and wait while you go off to fulfill your dreams. Yeah, you feel kind of guilty when she’s upset, but she’s so awesome never asking you for anything in return. All girlfriends should be that selfless.
This is only a small list, and it can totally grow, so if you can think of any songs that might be problematic, feel free to mention them in the comments (with an explanation if possible) and a link so we can all share in the guilty pleasure.