You can’t help getting swept up in these songs, even though you may roll your eyes whenever you hear them. That’s the nature of guilty-pleasure songs: Deep down you really love them, even though you’d never be caught admitting it.
That’s OK; we don’t mind doing so. Here are 10 great ones. Enjoy. And don’t feel guilty about it!
10. Shrek: “I’m a Believer,” Smash Mouth
What could be better: a classic guilty-pleasure song, written by a guilty-pleasure auteur (Neil Diamond), made famous by a classic guilty-pleasure “band” (the Monkees), and covered by a contemporary guilty-pleasure band? Unless it’s another song from the series,
Counting Crows’ “Accidentally in Love” from Shrek 2.
9. Beaches: “Wind Beneath My Wings,” Bette Midler
Yes, it’s among the sappiest songs ever, from an equally sappy movie. But Bette Midler’s voice is amazingly moving, and sometimes you just want to have those tears jerked. If you’re so inclined and you aren’t moved by this heart-wrenching paean to friendship, well, something’s a little wrong with you.
8. Reality Bites: “Stay (I Missed You),” Lisa Loeb
or not it’s apocryphal, the story of Lisa Loeb being discovered by her
neighbor Ethan Hawke and then launched into stardom after he convinced
director Ben Stiller to feature this song in Reality Bites has that perfect(ly nauseating) kind of ’90s downtown hipster cred. But the song was a perfect fit for the Generation X time capsule, and all these years later, it still sure does stay with you.
7. Rugrats in Paris: “Who Let the Dogs Out,” Baha Men
We know what you’re thinking: Does a song count as a guilty pleasure if it has you barking to yourself in your head? Oh, that wasn’t what you were thinking? Well how about this, then: Was this song really from a Rugrats movie? Yes, and yes. After the movie’s release, the Caribbean-inflected song quickly became a ubiquitous dance number, and though it may irk, there’s no denying its canine charms.
6. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: “Everything I Do (I Do It for
You),” Bryan Adams
Raspy-voiced balladeer Bryan Adams delivers the guilty-pleasure goods on this one: selfless true-love lyrics, pared-down verses and a power-synth bridge that gets you straight in the heart.
5. American Psycho: “Hip to Be Square,” Huey Lewis
& the News
one of the weirdest and most disturbing dichotomies ever put to film:
Serial killer Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) expounds on the band’s
oeuvre while donning a raincoat, grabbing his axe, and hacking yuppie
colleague Paul Allen (Jared Leto) to death with Huey’s utterly square
number as his soundtrack. (Warning: The scene is bloody and not for the faint-of-heart.)
4. Dirty Dancing: “The Time of My Life,” Jennifer Warnes &
Orbach seething in the corner, pre-nose job Jennifer Grey at her
loveliest, daintily schvitzing Patrick Swayze showing off his dance
moves … and the lift — oh, the lift! — all scored by this inspiring number. (Another Warnes duet, “Up Where We Belong,” from An Officer and a Gentleman, could easily have made the list as well.)
3. Ghostbusters: “Ghostbusters,” Ray Parker Jr.
Along with “Where’s the beef?,” very likely the most-repeated question of the ’80s was “Who you gonna call?” This may well be the most cheerfully cheesy scifi-comedy theme song ever; you can practically hear Parker wink as he sings, “I ain’t afraid of no ghost.”
2. Risky Business: “Old Time Rock & Roll,” Bob Seger
One of the most widely imitated pop-culture tropes of our time, Tom
Cruise sliding in and dancing around wearing nothing but a button-down, a
pair of tube socks, and his skivvies, could be rendered watered-down
beyond relevance … except that this classic ode to classic rock still rocks. Plus, back then Cruise was cute as a button (to say nothing of his butt).
1. Titanic: “My Heart Will Go On,” Celine Dion
The Canadian chanteuse rode the wave of Titanic‘s king-of-the-world success with this über-romantic theme song.
It’s in-love-with-love sentimentality writ large, with a soaring chorus
that immortalizes the burgeoning onscreen chemistry between a young Leonardo DiCaprio and a young Kate Winslet.