People may think that I’m a music snob who’s trying hard to be pretentious and detesting the popular mainstream songs that top Billboard Hot 100—which none of them are true. My first activity every Monday and Tuesday morning is checking the leader of Billboard 200 and Billboard Hot 100, enjoying “Closer” much more than I admit, and a dedicated Taylor Swift fans. So that’s why, the term guilty pleasure songs are somewhat meaningless for me, especially because I listen to what I enjoy, and there should be no shame when you listen what you like. It’s true that social pressure may hinder your real taste, you’re too shy to admit that you’re enjoying “I Knew You Were Trouble” just because you’re a six-feet inch giant guy. Rest assured, mon frère, you have nothing to be ashamed of. There’s nothing wrong with liking “I Knew You Were Trouble”. My song lists may probably are much embarrassing, but I’m not feeling guilty. I’m proud. I enjoy all of this with all of my heart.
1. The Rocket Summer – “So Much Love”
The Rocket Summer‘s Bryce Avary probably has utilized best simile that’s used in any song ever in this world. “Hearts need a beat, like awake needs asleep,” Avary begins the song with nonsense, but who cares? “So Much Love” grabs your attention right away with piano, thunderous drums, and guitar strings—all courtesy of his. It may be a cheesy and corny love song, but you cannot resist the vigor that Avary creates in the chorus and before you realize it, you will begin chanting alongside him, “So, so, so much love in you!”
2. Ashley Tisdale – “It’s Alright, It’s OK”
People often think High School Musical as a joke, but they even cannot hide the fact that they sometimes hum their songs unawarely in some occasion. Also, thanks to High School Musical, Tisdale rises to prominence and reminds us that she’s a good singer. “It’s Alright, It’s OK”, the first single from her album (coincidentally), Guilty Pleasure, may feel like a semi-“Since U Been Gone”. It’s a female-empowerment song that’s undeservingly underrated, but Tisdale seems not to care as she confidently screams, “It’s alright, it’s OK”.
3. JTX – “Love In America”
Who the hell JTX is and how come Prambors, one of the hippest radio station in Indonesia (or used to), added “Love In America” to their playlist are still mystery. “Love In America” is cringe-worthy, to be fair, with questionable lyrics, such as “let me be your cigarette” or “your dreams are gonna come true (…) in America”, but JTX balances it with infectious beat and it weirdly makes “Love In America” a perfect summer jam that rarely works.
4. Tahta – “Tempat Yang Paling Indah”
All bands are at their best when it comes to ballad, and it’s no exception for Tahta, a band from Bandung, the city that produces a lot of good musicians. “Tempat Yang Paling Indah”, the title track of their debut album, is a sweet ballad that’s still much better than most of 2010’s Malay invasion songs that happens in Indonesia. The lyrics are simple and stripped naked, but it sounds sincere and genuine. “Tempat Yang Paling Indah” induces some inexplicable feeling, and for a debut work, it’s absolutely a remarkable feat.
5. Junior Doctor – “Uh Oh”
The title of the first album of Junior Doctor, Clumsy Words and Bad Pickup Lines, is taken from some part in “Uh Oh”, a song that all introverts can relate to. Trying to ask a girl who’s out of our league without stuttering is a nightmare for some of us, and only Junior Doctor is the only band who understands this as they perfectly capture our struggle in “throwing letters together that never end up as words” in a bubbly pop-punk song.
6. Cash Cash – “Obsessed”
I’m not kidding when I say that Cash Cash’s “Obsessed” is one of the songs that inspires me to become a writer. Long before they’re well-known with their collaboration with Bebe Rexha, Cash Cash produces many pointless songs, like “Party In Your Bedroom”. It’s not until in their second album, Love or Lust, Cash Cash makes “Obsessed”, the song that has feeling, something that you’d never expect from Cash Cash. But, “Obsessed” is awesomely great, and between the synth, you can feel how Makhlouf brothers’ obsession sounds real and not artificial and that’s the reason why it’s inspiring.
7. Cobra Starship – “Guilty Pleasure”
What’s a guilty pleasure list without Cobra Starship’s “Guilty Pleasure”. Long before their “You Make Me Feel…”, Cobra Starship is an edgy band with a song that’s actually great. “Guilty Pleasure” is a pop-rock song that’s otherworldly catchy and fun. “I came here to make you dance tonight/ I don’t care if I’m a guilty pleasure for you”, the main lyric of the song, is heard throughout the song as it tries to convince our brain that “Guilty Pleasure” is a nice guilty pleasure.
8. Blue – “Guilty”
Thanks to my sister who loves Blue and buys their cassette (!), I cannot get out of “Guilty” out of my memory. My 7-year old brain is brainwashed by angelic voice of Blue, and when I have the access to the internet five years ago, looking for “Guilty”‘s music video is one of the first things that I do, and I start to realize that “Guilty” is amazing and having a chance to listen to this song is indeed a blessing.
9. Joe Jonas – “Gotta Find You”
Camp Rock may not be on par with High School Musical in terms of popularity (and Rotten Tomatoes rating) pool, but Camp Rock produces much more prominent pop stars than High School Musical can ever dream of, although Jonas Brothers arguably are already known before Camp Rock. Camp Rock itself is a guilty pleasure, and it’s hard to resist the catchy songs in there, like “Gotta Find You”. Being the most popular Jonas (before being overtaken by his little brother Nick), Joe Jonas dominates the screen with his vain persona, but when he performs “Gotta Find You”, it’s where he’s being truthful, and that’s probably the reason why “Gotta Find You” is an unforgettable song, at least for me.
10. Metro Station – “Shake It”
The Cyruses are all musicians, starting from the patriarch Billy Ray to their youngest daughter Noah. While the most successful of them all is Miley, we tend to forget that Trace Cyrus has band at some point that peaks at Top 10 of Billboard Hot 100. “Shake It” is a nice earwormy pop song, as you can’t get Cyrus singing “Shake, shake, shake, shake it!” out of your ear. “Shake It” is their 15 minutes of fame as their second album doesn’t gain the same popularity, but thankfully they have left a nice legacy.
11. TWENTY ØNE PILØTS – “Cancer”
As a guy who thinks that TWENTY ØNE PILØTS sounds trying too hard, I’m a bit reluctant to admit that their rendition of My Chemical Romance’s “Cancer” is actually pretty good. It’s not as good as the original version, I won’t even dare to compare, as nothing beats a somber piano ballad in this world, but TØP’s “Cancer” is their most unobnoxious song. Tyler’s voice sounds earnest, and you can actually feel the pain from his voice as he sings, “I will not kiss you” on chorus. “Cancer” is probably TØP at their finest, proving that there may be some hope for them in the future.
12. Mike Posner – “Cheated”
Mike Posner barely escapes from the chasm of one hit wonder, thanks to “I Took A Pill In Ibiza”, that I don’t particulary enjoy. But, ever since “Cooler Than Me”, the highlight of Posner’s career, he’s pretty much nowhere to be found, and his debut album, 31 Minutes to Takeoff, flops so hard, while actually he still has some gems hidden in his sleeve. I really enjoy his “Cheated”, a salacious song that’s both misogynistic and catchy at the same time.
13. Ariana Grande – “Right There (feat. Big Sean)”
Fresh from Victorious, the show that catapults Ariana Grande to fame, Grande’s debut album, Yours Truly, is a cute one. “Right There”, for instance, is adorned with frills, modern interpretation of Romeo & Juliet, extravagant masquerade, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pretty son. But, “Right There” is actually more than that. With that insane head voice that begins the song, it is the first documented proof that Grande indeed can sing.
14. Reza Artamevia – “Satu Yang Tak Bisa Lepas”
Millennials nowadays may not believe when I tell them that Reza Artamevia is a diva back then as she rarely sings and all bad rumors spread around her. But Reza is one of the best Indonesian singers ever, with her distinctive alto voice. “Satu Yang Tak Bisa Lepas”, her magnum opus, is also one of the best Indonesian songs ever. It’s an eternal romantic song that’s frequently covered due to its everlastingness, one song that’s still relevant till today, a song that’s beyond its era.
15. Parachute – “Kiss Me Slowly”
No one will never expect that “She is love, and she is all I need” from a Nivea commercial will establish Parachute as one of the most romantic bands that ever roam in this barren world. The Philadelphian band Parachute is full of surprise, starting from having the only music videos in this world that feature Jennifer Lawrence, a vocalist that has the most distractive piercing blue eyes ever in this world, and the most romantic love song that’s ever written in this world. “Kiss Me Slowly” is really good, and ever since its release, it’s still always on my playlist, cheering me up when nobody else can.
16. Backstreet Boys – “I Want It That Way”
When Rockstar puts Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” as one of the songs in pop radio in GTA V, I somehow can’t comprehend. But, it turns out, “I Want It That Way”, still sounds fresh and novel, and before I’ve even realized it, riding a car in Senora Highway, looking at the sunset, with “I Want It That Way” blasting from your car speaker is a religious experience.
17. Wheatus – “Teenage Dirtbag”
Adolescence can be a scary phase for most of people, and an unrequited love in high school is the ultimate horror. We always have that kind of story in high school where an uncool dirtbag nerd has a crush with the cheerleader captain. Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag” initially unrolls like a typical teen-flick drama, with an unbearable gym class and pretty girl whose dick boyfriend drives an Iroc. But, Wheatus saves the best for the last. As the story gets twisted in the third verse, where the truth finally uncovers. “Teenage Dirtbag” has a sweet ending, and thanks to Wheatus, we all have faith that everything’s gonna end well eventually.
18. Justin Bieber – “One Less Lonely Girl”
I’m one of few people who never hates Justin Bieber and loves his songs, even when he’s a douche, because I know Bieber is actually talented. When his debut EP arrives and his voice still hasn’t broken, I already love him. “One Time” might not be able to assure me, but it is “One Less Lonely Girl” that blows my mind. He’s still sixteen, and you don’t put high expectation on a 16-year-old kid. Bieber may wander around in his life, trying to find the purpose his life. It is not until Purpose that he finally finds one, and I’m so proud I believe in right from “One Less Lonely Girl”.
19. JoJo – “Leave (Get Out)”
JoJo should have not belonged to this list. Years before Ariana Grande, JoJo is probably the only young singer who possesses such huge range of vocal register, and she’s able to showcase it since thirteen, becoming the youngest singer that’s reached number in Billboard Pop Songs chart with “Leave (Get Out)”. JoJo’s voice still sounds raw, but you can already see some talent in there. It’s not until her second album that her voice matures, with a single like “Too Little Too Late” and “How To Touch A Girl”.
20. Big Time Rush – “All Over Again”
Of all the boyband coming from the revival boyband circa late 2000s, Big Time Rush is probably a niche. It comes from a series in Nickoledon that only lasts for four years, and it doesn’t have monstrous hits. But, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have good songs. Instead, I think Big Time Rush is the new boyband that has the best songs, aside from The Overtones (key song: “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”). “All Over Again”, taken from their sophomore album, is one of my favorite songs ever. It may not sound special, tending to be generic, but “All Over Again” invokes some feeling, and for me, that’s more than enough.