I don’t particularly believe in “guilty pleasures” when it comes to music. If you like something, you like it. Sure, maybe it’s a little embarassing that you listened to that T.A.T.U., Kelly Clarkson, Lovage, Head Automatica record as much as you did, but should you feel guilt? Not at all. You like what you like, and you shouldn’t have to answer to people who give you shit for it.

I find that most people’s “guilty pleasures” tend to fall in the cheesy, produced-for-radio field, but there’s a reason pop music is called pop – it’s popular. No matter who you are, if you didn’t find yourself shaking your booty to “Gold Digger” or “Since U Been Gone” last year, then, frankly, I find that worse than not putting Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois on your “Top 10 Albums of 2005” list (but maybe that’s because it probably would not have been on mine).

Here are two songs I’ve been enjoying that perhaps the average mp3 blogger or rock music listener might classify as “guilty pleasures,” but I’m just enjoying the hell out of them.

1. Rihanna: “SOS (Rescue Me)” (download): I’m in our University’s photography lab a lot. I work there all day long on Saturdays, and I take a class there on Wednesday nights. There are only two kinds of radio stations that get played in the photography lab (not counting SOMA FM from iTunes radio when I have my computer and I’m working): classic rock and r&b/hip-hop. Last Wednesday night, the r&b/hip-hop station was on, and this song came on. One of the girls and I were getting our dance on while developing prints, and I asked her who the artist was. I’ve been on a hunt for the song since, and I finally found it last night. I have a feeling that part of the reason I like it so much is because she ripped off a huge chunk from “Tainted Love,” but what the hell – download it and dance away, my friends.

[edit: I had to take the track down, because I was getting way too many hits from robots/mp3 search engines. if you want it, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do.]

2. The Lashes: “Nate’s Song” (view): If I haven’t mentioned it often enough, I’ll say it again – I’m from Seattle. Seattle has a huge music scene, and more than that, it has a huge hipster music scene. There’s a lot of stupid politics involved in the music there (not that they aren’t everywhere else, too, but after that whole grunge thing, the city has a certain feeling of unimpressed entitlement), which often requires that bands get the hell out before they can get a few bucks. It also often means that bands that are huge in Seattle – well, aren’t good. I’ve seen the Lashes a handful of times, and have never been blown away – yet they still continued to get press, record deals, etc. I basically scoffed every time I saw them getting attention, playing a big show, put out a release and such. In their defense, I’d never heard them recorded, or even really gave them much of a chance – two or three live shows (that I wasn’t compelled to pay attention to) was enough for me. You could say that Seattle attitude had really rubbed off on me. The other day, I was on myspace, and my friend Cristina had this video on her profile. The first line (“well, the last time I said I loved you / I really didn’t mean it at all”) caught my attention, and intrigued me enough that I listened to the entire song. Little did I know, there was a pop gem hidden in the remaining two minutes. Will I give the Lashes another chance? Maybe I will.

[edit: well, wouldn’t you know it? I got the mp3. Download “Nate’s Song” here.]