Guilty Pleasures

This month’s issue of Q magazine has a list of the top 50 “guilty pleasures”, ie songs that people are embarrassed to admit liking. Number 1 is ELO’s ‘Livin’ Thing’, about which Q says: “ELO may never be fashionable but, in terms of sheer aural elation, ‘Livin’ Thing’ betters more revered bands’ entire back catalogues. From the gloriously bonkers introduction to its flamenco guitar, it remains ever wonderful to the ear”. This is of course entirely correct, and one hopes that the placing of ‘Livin’ Thing’ at no. 1 is more a reflection on the esteem in which it’s held than on the guilt people feel at admitting this. The full list is here, and the top 10 is as follows:

1. ELO – Livin’ Thing
2. Boston – More Than A Feeling
3. S Club 7 – Don’t Stop Movin’
4. 10cc – I’m Not In Love
5. Gary Glitter – Rock’n’Roll Part 2
6. Foreigner – Cold As Ice
7. Billy Idol – Rebel Yell
8. Status Quo – Whatever You Want
9. Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street
10. Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive

Personally, as a proud, unashamed and unironic fan of the likes of ELO, 10cc, Todd Rundgren, Wings, the Carpenters, Glen Campbell, Neil Diamond and, above all, Supertramp, I find the “Guilty Pleasures” concept somewhat problematic. Why, precisely, should ELO fans be embarrassed to admit the fact, as opposed, say, to people who like Primal Scream or Blackeyed Peas? What, exactly, is wrong with a song like Billy Swann’s ‘I Can Help’, or ‘January’ by Pilot?

Fortunately the BBC’s “Have Your Say” page is full of comments from people defiantly proclaiming their fondness for Olivia Newton John’s ‘Xanadu’ and ‘Escape’ (The Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes. Good for them. Perhaps Harry’s Place readers may wish to unburden themselves of any horrors lurking within their record collections.

In other music news, the Rolling Stones were revealed this week to have paid just 1.6% in tax on their £240million earnings since 1986, having moved their finances to the Netherlands, where there’s no direct tax on royalties. Had they paid just the UK basic rate of 22% this would have been enough to fund the entire construction of Barnet Hospital as well as paying the salaries of 100 nurses for 8 years. It’s always nice to give something back, isn’t it. The Independent adds that Dutch tax breaks are so good that “U2 have also now copied the Stones by moving to the same exclusive Amsterdam address on 1 June. The bands now share the same Dutch director, Jan Favie”. Good old Bono.

And on more familiar HP terrain, today’s Times carries an interview with Aki Nawaz of Fun-Da-Mental, whose latest album “All Is War” has prompted a call from Labour MP Andrew Dinsmore for Nawaz to be arrested under anti-terrorism laws. One of the tracks on the album ‘Che Bin’, compares Che Guevara to Osama bin Laden, leading to accusations that Nawaz is endorsing bin Laden’s views. He has a revealing response to this, saying “Is it really about endorsing or is it about understanding the context? Look at Che Guevara, he killed people. This is the hypocrisy of it. I’ll sit down with people who are considered to be extremists in the Muslim world, and to me they’re almost like a mirror to all the Marxist and Socialist Worker Party people“. I’d noticed that too.