EW’s Music Mix is searching for the Greatest Guilty Pleasure Musical Act of All Time. With 32 seeded contestants (see all the matchups), this tournament is sure to change hearts, minds, and lives for weeks to come. Read/listen to the following, and then cast your vote in the poll after the jump; reader comments will be used in subsequent rounds, so we encourage you to also post a comment explaining why you chose the way you did. Note: In case of a tie, please select the artist you feel more ashamed to adore. Thank you.
This is not the first time I’ve publicly admitted my enjoyment of Journey. Hell, it’s not even the second. I’ve spilled my guts about these melodic rockers so many times around here that you’d think I’d have moved past embarrassment by now. Forget it. Whenever I’m strolling around New York City and a Journey song pops up on my iPod via shuffle mode, I’m instantly wearing the same look my dog Tosh had on so many Thanksgivings ago when he ate an entire turkey while my parents’ backs were turned. Which is to say: blissfully, ecstatically guilty!
Why the shame? Because however musically skilled these dudes were — and yes, singer Steve Perry fully deserved to be nicknamed “The Voice” during Journey’s 1980s heyday — there is just something so deliciously… corny about them. They wrote songs — oh so many songs — about being lonely on the tour bus. Their power ballads are so ooey-gooey they practically drip Mrs. Buttersworth. (And now I cooooooome to yoooooou! With open arms!) Their overall image was so innocuous that the media dubbed them “corporate rock,” critics summarily dismissed them, and your parents probably tapped their fingers approvingly to “Any Way You Want It” while driving you to school in the morning. Badass? Don’t make me laugh.
But to the hell with the haters! And who cares if one of Journey’s greatest, most enduring hits, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” is about a city boy born and raised in the geographic non-entity of “South Detroit”? The sound of Perry hitting those vein-popping high notes here, there, and everywhere in their catalog of uber-earnestness remains musical Zoloft to my ears.
Just please, don’t tell anyone, okay? — Missy Schwartz
I am a 34 year old female. I do lots of adult things — recycle, get the oil changed in the sensible foreign compact car I bought used, visit the dentist twice a year. I pay taxes. I wear earplugs at karaoke.
I also sing Fall Out Boy songs at karaoke. “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down,” mostly, but I’ve also been known to do “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race,” and if their cover of “Beat It” was available, I’d do that, too. I listen to Fall Out Boy on planes, turn it up loud and pull up the hood of my black sweatshirt to cover my oversized DJ headphones. I may be the only person who simultaneously reads the New Yorker and listens to Fall Out Boy in that context, but I can’t be sure. When I’m standing in baggage claim, I crank the volume so I don’t have to hear the inane chatter of the people around me. Sometimes I play air drums. I like to think that everyone is watching and imagining me to be one seriously hard-core chick who’s maybe in a band or something. The truth is, they probably think “Why is that 34 year old woman acting like a Hot Topic employee?” The answer is, I have no f—ing idea.
It was From Under the Cork Tree that hooked me, one long-ago afternoon in my cubicle at EW. I’m not even sure why I put the CD on — maybe I was feeling nostalgic for some long-ago afternoon at Warped Tour — but they had me from the first Duran Duran-esque camera snaps, and by the end of it I was in my editor’s office begging to review the album. I believe that, before cooler heads prevailed, I was trying to give it an A+. There’s no logical way to explain my sudden and complete love affair with a pop-punk (please — they are so not emo) band, except that our brains are computers fired by a series of electrical impulses, and music is math. Thus, it would stand to reason that every once in a while, a certain binary combination just… clicks. My relationship with Fall Out Boy must be what the dude who invented Pac-Man felt the first time he put a little red bow on his hero’s head: It’s both completely ridiculous, and ridiculously awesome.
Being honest, I roll my eyes at their off-stage antics, and I hate everything else on Decaydance. (Okay, Panic! at the Disco’s Pretty. Odd. was good. Have I said too much?) Their fanbase frightens me, and the one time I went to a show I needed my aforementioned earplugs more for the screeching girls around me than the band on stage. I’m not even going to front like they’re artistic innovators — yeah, they demonstrate a surprisingly strong understanding of songcraft and production trickery, but if I want to get all fancy I’ll listen to MCR’s The Black Parade instead (oops, have I said too much again?) — and I’m pretty sure everything but the first three tracks of Infinity on High just flat-out sucked. But I spent 11 days at the Sundance Film Festival this January, and every time I got on a shuttle bus, I turned up Folie A Deux, pulled my hood over my head, and closed my eyes. And for just a second there in the unending traffic jam of Park City, I smiled. That’s magic. And that’s the whole point of music, right? Um… right? — WP
Photo Credit: Journey: Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis