Recently, I've had more or less the same conversation with a couple of different friends: there is such a thing as what we "should" be listening to, and then there's what we've been listening to. And between the Bro Police and the Punk Rock Gestapo, we're definitely on the wrong side of the law.
Esteban, myself, and...El...Travis? (names have been changed to protect the innocent) are all adult men who've made our bones in one punk scene or another, and we all agree: there comes a point when we've been soaked with enough vegan dude sweat, taken enough wild, pit-borne fists to the head, and slept on enough punk house floors that we've earned the right to enjoy whatever sounds we damn-well please. We've listened to 7 Seconds and Bad Brains and Misfits and, God knows, more ear-splitting, foul-smelling, couch-surfing local acts than any human being should ever have to endure. And those bands are mostly fine (or mostly terrible, depending on how you feel about punk music). They're audio broccoli. But you've got to balance your diet, now and again, with a goddamn ear-Twinkie.
Here are five tracks that will rot your teeth out, and that no one, let alone any self-respecting punk, should ever listen to. But the fact is: I don't care. I love it. Fuck the police.
5. Icona Pop ft. Charli XCX - "I Love It"
I've never wanted to be a 16-year-old girl so badly.
Well, I've never wanted to be a 16-year-old girl. Except when I listen to these two Swedes, probably drunk on vodka and Red Bull, sounding absolutely ecstatic about head-on collisions, kicking bags of shit down the stairs, and being a '90s bitch.
Other married dudes pushing 30 won't admit to pogoing to this song. But they do. Even if it's just a little bounce. In the driver's seat. You know, when you're on your way to Wegman's and you've had enough of the grown-up bitching on WGR or NPR or, God forbid, WBEN, so you hit whatever the hell is bookmarked under preset 6 - and this starts playing. And you can't help it. You just need to bop. It's all right, brothers and sisters. YOLO...YOLO.
4. Vita Chambers - "Fix You"
+1 nerd points for sharing your name with a fictional piece of hardware that exists in a dystopian sci-fi universe.
-100 nerd points for the dubstep breakdown.
-1 million nerd points for singing a dance-pop number that serves as an urgent plea to run away with/"fix" what I can only imagine is a swagalicious, suburbanite weinerbaby sporting purple leopard-print maternity pants and an enormous New Era cap stamped with a logo for, I don't know, how're the Minnesota Wild doing these days?
LOL. Sports r dum. Those lids r fresh tho!
3. Martin Solveig ft. Dragonette - "Hello"
Whenever Esteban and I play punk rock tennis - a variation of tennis that involves mohawks and a lot of cursing - this song is plays in my brain. If, just once, one of the ubiquitous throng of Canadians idling at the Peace Bridge next to the Front Park tennis courts would roll down a window and blast this song for us, I would lose my shit.
2. Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris - "We Found Love"
I first heard this song playing over the radio in a Canadian sex shop. Browsing the lube and novelty dildos, I couldn't imagine anything more ridiculous and hamfisted than that chorus. (We found love in a hopeless place! We found suds in a soapless place! We found drugs in a dopeless place!)
But then I saw it. Right there, on the wall: glorious in its sheer monstrosity. I'm not sure what sexual niche it fills, but, Christ, does it fill it - and I haven't been able to find one since. Anyway, it's a lot like this (NSFW?), except with a...hamfist.
1. Taylor Swift - Everything she's ever done
My good friend El Travis is a filthy punk. His bona fides: tried being vegan; had a mohawk for awhile; has an anti-swastika tattoo; beat up one-and-a-half jocks using only a pyramid belt and a pair of Doc Martens.
El Travis also loves Taylor Swift.
Actual quote: "You should really sit down and listen to Taylor Swift's albums in order, from the country stuff to now."
Actual quote: "Remind me to never get drunk and buy Magic [the Gathering] Cards and t-shirts again. I spent 80 bucks on, like, three cards and an 'I heart Taylor Swift' t-shirt. But I really like the shirt."