Saturday, August 19, 2006

More guilty pleasures

Peter Pigeon has answered my posting on Q magazine's guilty pleasures with a list of his own.

He says that my 10 includes a couple of songs that he quite likes. And the reverse is true. In fact, his 10 contain two songs that I think are great:

  • All or Nothing is one of the very best songs by one of the very best British groups of the 1960s.
  • Downtown is wonderful - and I told Petula Clark as much when she phoned me a few years ago (hem, hem). It was obviously the wrong thing to say, but I am glad I said it.
I was also interested in the comment by Liberal Neil that "Many people have broad tastes," with its implied condemnation. For I think it misses the point.

Having good taste doesn't mean liking all music in a fluffy kind of way. It means being able to discriminate between the good and the bad in all the kinds of music that you listen to. (This is something I can't do in jazz, for instance, because it has never interested me enough.)

Being able to nominate a list of guilty pleasure requires a sophisticated level of appreciation. It is a sign of broad tastes, not narrow ones.

Finally, I have been thinking about my original argument that a degree of pretentiousness is necessary for a record to qualify as a guilty pleasure. Maybe the attraction of some artists is that they constantly threaten to topple over into pretention but never quite do.

Scott Walker is a good example of this and - though Neil Hannon's touch is a little less sure - the Divine Comedy are another.


Stephen Tall said...

Huge DivCom fan as I am, not quite sure I can agree they don't fall into pretention - in fact, they often dive-in head first. (And when they do, I say yay.)

Quite agree about Scott Walker, though. The Plague is one of my all-time favourite songs - and not at all a 'guilty' pleasure.

Liberal Neil said...

I wasn't intending to condemn anyone and I can kind of understand the idea of what a 'guilty pleasure' might be.

But when I read Q I was struck by the fact that I owned about half the albums in their list and it had never occured to me to feel in anyway guilty about it.

The only reason I can see anyone would feel that they shouldn't like any particular record is if they are worried about what other people might think.

I certainly discriminate between what I think is good and bad, but i don't expect anyone else to necessarily agree with me.

So I could come up with a list of albums in my collection that I think other people might find a bit naff - Supertramp, Elton John, Bing Crosby, Meatloaf, ELO, Norah Jones - but guilt? No.

Peter Pigeon said...

Only problem with Downtown is that it was wrtten by Tony Hatch and Stewpot played (really). It is a great song.