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Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Guilty pleasures and paradoxes

I've never been a fan of the concept of a 'guilty pleasure'. There's nothing in my music library that I'm ashamed of, although this is probably borne of being a rather big fan of Girls Aloud despite otherwise 'credible' tastes. Recently however the concept of a 'guilty pleasure' is coming to the fore thanks to my discovering that given the chance I'm able to enjoy a much wider range of music that I'd like to.

This has come to a head recently after reading some of what Drowned in Sound Editor, Sean Adams, has had to say regarding pop-punkers Paramore. Looking upon his list of songs from the decade (as an alternative to the Pitchfork 500) I was a little surprised to see their song 'Crushcrushcrush' present amongst more KPL friendly fair, and later came across some writing of his elsewhere on the concept of music listening habits and identity formation, singing the praises of the band. Being as easily susceptible as I am I decided to look more into Paramore (ignoring Twilight song 'Decode' which I've long found boring) and I'm pretty ashamed to say that I don't actually mind them.

There, I said it: “I'm pretty ashamed”. So much for the concept of a guilty pleasure.

Although, it must be said: Paramore appear to be a highly paradoxical band. On the one hand we've got their obvious 'emo' styling, yet on the other the lyrical content of their songs veer towards the 'kiss off'. Tracks such as the infuriatingly catchy 'That's What You Get' emphasise this, and combined with Hayley Williams tomboyish yet attractive persona and delivery it's not hard to see how they're appealing to lustful younger lads and providing a strong role model for girls at the same time. Yet a further paradox comes in their staunch Christian beliefs, which is completely contradictory with the usual emo faux-bisexuality, which acts targeting this demographic usually aim for.

As horrifically shallow as it seems, I'm sure it's Paramore's emo-ness and tween fanbase that makes me ashamed to be admitting to enjoying their music. Although, when saying this I'm not making any claim that Paramore are in any way 'good'. Objectively, there's a same-ness to their songs which do all follow standard pop-punk templates with predictable drum patterns and guitars that chug in an non-threatening radio-friendly way.

If my refusal to accept that they are possibly 'good' is the product of some indie snobbery then so be it. But surely it's more important to actually enjoy the music than any of the surrounding factors that I've mentioned in justification; and if this is the case then I'll continue to wrestle with my inner demons in the same way that I'm having to with the prospect that I actually quite like some Beatles songs now. So much for identity formation through listening habits. Or maybe I'm just growing old...

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