Guilty Pleasures: Cheesy pop classics that we hate to love

10 Cheesy Songs You Hate to Admit You Like

The best guilty pleasure songs out there and our huge following meant we had thousands of replied, messages and emails.

Even the die-hard music fans give in and either singer, hum, dance or nod their head to the cheesiest tunes out there.

This list is very subjective of course, but we’re aiming for the catchiest songs that are highly uncool to like as a man. Before we run down our 10 in no particular order, here is what did not quite make it!

“Walk Like an Egyptian”—The Bangles, “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)”—The Offspring, “Who Let the Dogs Out?”—Baha Men, “I’m Too Sexy”—Right Said Fred, “Baby”—Justin Bieber, “MMMBop”—Hanson besides a tonne of hits by Abba!

Here are just ten of the best.

“Groovy Kind of Love” Phil Collins

A hit for British Invasion band the Mindbenders in 1965, “Groovy Kind of Love” was a sweet, slight Brill Building pop ballad. Collins must’ve have thought he was adding seriousness and sophistication by replacing the original’s buoyant innocence with a stolid delivery and weirdly lachrymose, painfully Eighties synths. But all he did was give a groovy little song a full-on grooviness enema.

Careless Whisper – George Michael

Oh George, you really cut to the core of us with this number.

We hope he was able to dance again, guilt-free, because he deserves to after this effort.

To be honest, this song is made about 27% better due to that killer hairstyle.

Who’s does your hair, Michael? It’s terrific.

Never Gonna Give You Up”—Rick Astley

It’s hard to believe it’s taken this long, but Rick Astley‘s 1987 video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” has finally hit one billion YouTube views.

The cheese-tastic clip for Astley’s number-one hit earned a second life online starting in 2007 thanks to the popular RickRolling meme, where you’re directed to click on a link but instead of getting what you expect to see, you get Astley’s video instead.

“The Scientist” – Coldplay (2002)

Anything by Coldplay. Nobody said it was easy to overlook how overplayed the chorus is, but it’s such a shame for us to disregard its lyrical meaningfulness and composition.

“Truly Madly Deeply” Savage Garden

With a Calgon, take me away synth-suds track, an aromantic classical guitar solo, and the indelible poetry “I want to stand with you on a mountain/I want to bathe with you in the sea/I want to lay like this forever/Until the sky falls down on me,” Australian pop duo Savage Garden oozed their way to the top of the charts in the spring of 1997. And the sky just refused to fall on it; “Truly Madly Deeply” stayed on the charts for 123 weeks. Stupid sky.

“Toxic” – Britney Spears

Britney’s greatest triumph, in this writer’s eyes – a classic from the first second but overplayed and it has to hit the right moment to work.

Released in 2003, this was played repeatedly for weeks on end. We resisted it for ages because it wasn’t on for any self-respecting chap to like Britney’s music.

It got the better of us in the end, though. A belter of a hit, with a handy video to boot.

“My Heart Will Go On” Celine Dion

Kate Winslet has admitted that Celine Dion’s monstrously popular theme song from Titanic makes her “feel like throwing up,” and even Dion herself didn’t want to record the song when she first heard it. Hearing that misty, leprechaun-tinged flute intro is sort of the polar opposite of hearing the opening chords of “Satisfaction” or the snare hit that starts “Like a Rolling Stone” — instant recognition followed by immediate terror.

“Stars” – Simply Red

We only really properly listened to the lyrics of this song recently; they’re a bit mad to be honest.

But, my word, what a hook. This song is so of its time it’s almost criminal, and that’s why we love it.

Fun game; picture the most moody and serious person you know singing this passionately – always cracks a smile.

Sing it for us one more time, Mick.

“More Than Words” – Extreme

This is on the border of being okay to like, it’s just that its credibility takes a hit because the tune is on the tender side of “feelings”.

Still though, we’ll turn this up to 11 anytime we hear it on the radio (which is rare enough) and the more we listen the more we like.

By the way, we don’t know if you’ve tried it, but singing along to the whole tune is a struggle on the ol’ vocal chords.

“Fighter” – Christina Aguilera (2002)

Christina Aguilera has always been one of the most underrated pop artists but her rich vocal palette and incredible range remain a force to be reckoned with on this iconic 00s title.

“(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” Bryan Adams

“There’s nowhere unless you’re there,” bleats Bryan Adams, sounding like a cross between an asthmatic mountain goat and, uh, Bryan Adams. How true that was in the summer of 1991, when this soul-crushing theme song from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was inescapable, topping the charts worldwide.

“Relight My Fire” – Take That

You couldn’t get less cool than liking Take That in the mid 90s, this was the era of Oasis and Blur for heaven’s sake.

However, we defy any man not to be taken by this cracker. We’re not mad about Lulu’s contribution, but the rest is pop cheese at its finest.

Is it just us who are reminded of The Premiership Years every time we hear this?

Some tune.

“Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars (2014)

A catchy work of musical madness, Uptown Funk took the planet by storm when it ruled the airwaves a couple years ago. Now that the song has left the mainstream spotlight, we can take some time to appreciate its intricate composition, upbeat music video and unparalleled feel-good vibe.

“Lady In Red” Chris de Burgh

It’s kind of fitting that this song was a hit in 1986, the height of the greed-is-good, conspicuous consumption Eighties; it’s the ultimate trophy-wife ballad (barely edging out Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight”). The fake-glitz muzak sound is perfect for a cheaply sentimental song about a guy whose appreciation of the woman beside him seems to work in direct relation to how many other guys hit on her at a party.

“You’re Beautiful” James Blunt

“My life is brilliant,” declares James Blunt. Good for you, holmes, but your song is wack. When it comes to the squishiest unrequited love ballad of the 21st century, it’s tough to say what’s more annoying: the drama-queen stalker lyrics, the whiney vocal tone, or the syrupy melody. And that’s not to mention the ridiculous beefcake video, where Blunt strips in the snow and then jumps off a cliff — an act that might feel more tragic if it wasn’t shot like an underwear ad.

“I Swear” All-4-One

Originally a country hit for singer John Michael Montgomery, the became one of the biggest songs of the Nineties when All 4 One remade it as an R&B slow-jam. The melisma at the end is utterly out of control and there’s something odd about the distance between the youthful, puppy-love delivery and the iron-clad eternal promise of the lyrics: “for better or worse/Til death do us part.” Um, really? Death? Let’s see how junior prom goes and work from there.

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Holli Greaves
Meet Holly, our versatile freelance journalist and featuers writer who has a passion for dissecting the ever-evolving landscape of business and technology. Your guide to understanding the forces driving our digital age with insightful perspectives and in-depth storytelling.

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