From Hannah Montana to Avril Lavigne, Joey Crutchley pens an essay in defence of so-called guilty pleasures.

It was just last weekend that I was sat at my desk, a cigarette perched at the tip of my mouth while I typed away an article listening to the Camp Rock soundtrack on Spotify. I received a Snapchat just 15 seconds into “This Is Me” – a self-love anthem for all tweens out there – the Snapchat was from a friend who had recorded what I was listening to on Spotify. The snapchat clearly showed “This Is Me” by The Camp Rock Cast playing and had the caption, “really Joey?” Feeling mortified it was at that moment then that I stubbed my cigarette out, disconnected my internet and proceeded to listen to the Camp Rock soundtrack offline, free from judgement.

Let’s face it. We all have that one song or artist that we hate to admit we love, and may have downloaded offline in order to avoid the shame of liking such an “uncool” act. We as a society use the term “guilty pleasure” as a shorthand for something that we’re not supposed to love and enjoy; something that the media or social circles may deem as uncool or complete and utter garbage, meaning that professing any kind of love or interest would pretty much equate to “social suicide”.

Don’t get me wrong I am fully aware of my “bad” music taste – I mean I obviously don’t think it’s bad but I know others judge me for my constant repeat of The Cheeky Girls or thinking Paris Hilton released the BEST track of 2006 with the reggae-tinged “Stars Are Blind”. I know that’s not supposed to be the music a young male adolescent should like. You’re supposed to prefer those rappers who always seem to mumble or that one guy plucking away at a guitar. You’re supposed to take Oasis and their lyricism more seriously than Azealia Banks’ Instagram Live videos.

"Nobody's Perfect" by Hannah Montana

Growing up I listened to such a wide variety of musical genres. Roaming around in my dad’s van we used to blast out heavy metal bands such as Foo Fighters, Nirvana and Evanescence (Amy Lee is bae.) Whereas my older sister not only handed down her Barbie Dolls to me, but also exposed me to the world of R&B and Hip-Hop, with artists like D’Angelo and Lauryn Hill on constant repeat through my LG Cookie. Then through the power of the internet, I was able to fully absorb pop culture and all of its shimmery goodness. Through each musical genre playing its way into my mind, I learnt to appreciate and understand.

I’m sure fellow millennials like myself will remember that heart-stopping moment as a teenager when a friend snatched your oh-so-vintage MP3 player and started to dissect your music taste, tearing apart your self-esteem and ripping into you with rhetorical questions like ‘why do you listen to Hannah Montana? Why is there no Arctic Monkeys? Why are there so many female singers?’ I guess being a flamboyant child in a small city in the West Midlands was not a suitable fit, especially if that flamboyant boy had Cher’s “Believe” blasting through his Lady Gaga Beats earphones. Songs that you can belt out in your bedroom while getting ready, or sing along to at karaoke night at your local pub are rarely considered cool. Getting caught listening to S Club 7 is the pop musical equivalent of getting shit on by a seagull…

"Complicated" by Avril Lavigne

Despite the years of musical shame I endured, I never really embodied the sexist notion that the music I liked was less respected. So what if I sang along to Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” while the other boys in the class attempted to play air-guitar while unsuccessfully singing along to Oasis’ “Wonderwall”.

Now that I’m older and wiser (still only 21 years young but whatever) I have learnt to tolerate musical egotism, and I’m completely over this gendered sexist white noise. Who are random men to tell me what’s good and what’s bad? Who made every white straight teenage boy the Jamie Oliver of music? There’s no such thing as bad music; only music you love, and music you don’t.

The next time someone walks in on me singing along to Avril Lavigne’s, “What The Hell.” I will not apologise nor bow my head in shame. Instead, I’ll stand up straight and play Hannah Montana, cause after all, “nobody’s perfect!”


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