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Top 5: “Dirty Little Secret” Songs

Come Sail Away - StyxTime to pull those sonic skeletons out of the closet. You know the ones: the overwrought, the cheesy, the embarrassingly sincere. The songs you once only performed in the shower, but will now resurrect for any karaoke party with little encouragement.

Let’s all just admit we love some profoundly stupid songs, because admitting it is the first step.

My list of shame has taken nearly two decades to build. I chose these songs because they all scratch a musical and mental itch. Some, like #2, remind me of a time my friends and I lingered in the car just to finish belting out the tune as it played on the radio, all Wayne’s World style. Others, like #1, are just bizarre throwback songs that pluck some string buried so deep in my memory I can’t even remember why they’re pleasing. But the thing that seems to connect them all is my love of singing them. I don’t have a pretty or polished singing voice, but I’ll sing anyway. Often when people would rather I didn’t.

I guess I can’t put it off anymore … Look upon my shame, listed in order of its release date.

Top 5 Songs I Once Wouldn’t Admit to Liking but Now Openly Embrace :

1. Brandy by Looking Glass – It’s a sea shanty/love song with some of that corny ’70s  swagger. What’s not to love? I can totally identify with the sea-hungry sailor, torn between his love for the fair wench and adventure on the high seas. But I digress. I don’t remember when I went from singing Brandy as a joke to singing it in earnest, but I mean every damn word.

2. Come Sail Away by Styx – Another song about boats. What’s ironic is I’ve never even been on a sailboat, or a boat in the ocean, so I’m probably romanticizing the whole experience. I don’t even know most of the lyrics to this song, but does that really matter? We’re all just muddling through the verses to get to the epic, harmonic release of the chorus. And as The Lonely Island taught us, who doesn’t want to be on a boat?

3. Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey – Getting into the sultry underworld of drunken New York karaoke, you’re going to find an affinity for songs you can only love in the dark. Just bad and wrong songs that you kick out of bed before the sun comes up. This is one of those songs. Ever since the night I sang it at a karaoke bar, wearing a borrowed tie and a pair of sunglasses with one lens missing, furiously fist pumping with my drunken comrades, I’ve had a fondness for it I can’t shake. I know it’s enjoyed a kind of nostalgic comeback (or maybe it never left — I don’t know), but I could never admit my love for Journey until the night this ballad set me free.

4. Heart and Soul by T’Pau – I was obsessed with this song in junior high. The singer managed to lilt, drone, whine, and yell in a single number. I respected that. The perfect blend of melodrama and angst to usher me into the endless boo-hoo mix tapes of my art school years. And whenever I hear it on the radio, I still give it all I’ve got.

5. Toxic by Britney Spears – Though she may just represent everything that’s wrong with how women are portrayed and how sex is sold in media, I couldn’t resist the siren call. This song’s greatest appeal is its race fuel potential. I remember the first time I heard it in some Forever 21-type clothing store. Addictive beat, naughty lyrics, easy chorus. And I thought, “Fuck, I like a Britney Spears song.” Now, I help Britney knock feminism back a few decades just by shaking my moneymaker whenever I hear this song.

Ah, catharsis! My closet is empty and my musical conscience is clear. Now that I’ve given you my worst, why don’t you return the favor by telling me your Top 5?

5 thoughts on “Top 5: “Dirty Little Secret” Songs”

  1. Angie says:

    I have no idea how “Sister Christian” did not make this list.

  2. Christian says:

    I have a bone to pick with this article: the author has a great singing voice!

  3. Flora Fair says:

    I have never been ashamed of loving that song. MOTORIN

  4. Bridget says:

    I love it! Here’s mine: Rich Girl, Hall and Oats. I feel better, thanks Flora!

  5. Brenton says:

    I feel the need to confess Heart’s “These Dreams.” Oh the great weight that has been lifted.

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