Don't Feel Guilty About Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Experience

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Fuck me, I am going to overdose on this new Justin Timberlake album.

I know that I'm supposed to be ashamed of certain selections in my album collection. I know this from all of the times that people have looked through my CDs or records or iTunes and been all, "Hey, what's this doing here?" before handing me, say, a Carpenters album or some weird movie soundtrack and calling it my "guilty pleasure."

By Jaime Lees

Everybody seems to be hung up on some kind of notion that the music you like says something about you, that it makes you a certain kind of person. How boring and closed-minded and, well, teenagerish.

Do you know what my music says about me? Nothing. At the most, it says that I like good tunes, because I think the stuff that I own is all good tunes. But I feel zero guilt over any of the music that I enjoy and you shouldn't, either.

As a music writer, people usually assume that the "bad" in my music collection got there because somebody sent it to me for free or because I had to write about it or something. Nope. Most of that "bad" stuff is there because I bought it myself.

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Guilty pleasures, or hidden treasures?
I think that, for the most part, the pop music you like isn't a representation of your personality. It can't be. As a matter of definition, pop music is popular and loved by millions. That's one of the great things about pop music: It subtly provides opportunities to cross boundaries and engage with others who are unlike you because you have something in common. You can meet someone on the other side of the planet who speaks an entirely different language, but you can still manage to bond with them over the magic of Michael Jackson.

I have one exception to this universal love-fest. I will openly admit to a prejudice against diehard U2 fans. I just don't understand it. And while I hate everything about the bloated, pompous beast that is U2, I still like a few U2 songs. I mean, damn, you can't argue with "One." That song is perfect.

So you don't get to decide what you like, you just like it. That's it. (Trust me, if I could find a way hate "One," I'd be way stoked.) Instead of being weird or bashful about it, celebrate your personal diversity. Don't like certain songs or bands in an "ironic" way. Who has time for that? And don't justify or feel like you have to defend or explain your potentially embarrassing favorites. Just go on liking them and tell all haters to step off.

For example, I don't know how may times I've had to explain to somebody that, no, I actually really like Taylor Swift. Sure, sometimes I dig Swift in a very detached way, like when I'm analyzing her fame or her success. But usually when I'm listening to T-Swiz, there's not much cerebral action happening: I'm just another dumb broad rocking out in her car. I'll be all singing along and thinking about boys and making exaggerated arm gestures while driving down Highway 44 and loving it.

I've heard time and time again that my taste in music is very confusing. Like, I really love Tool, but I also love Mary Chapin Carpenter. (I can roll from "Hooker with a Penis" to "Passionate Kisses" without blinking.) And I've always had a love/hate relationship with Veruca Salt, but Nina Gordon's solo album is just as likely to get played as Minor Threat. And at my house, music listening decisions come down to things like Neil Young vs. Britney Spears all of the time.

Am I really supposed to be ashamed of this? All of this stuff is good, yo.


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6 comments
Beekeeper05
Beekeeper05

Can't stand Torii Amos music? Makes sense. Usually fans of processed pop garbage or over processed crap tend to not care for Tori. Tori is far too sophisticated

MattL11
MattL11

Fleetwood Mac. I don't feel the least bit guilty about it, either. 

cin508
cin508

THANK YOU! I absolutely do not believe in the "guilty pleasure" concept.  I am not ashamed of a single thing I listen to!

mdd0124
mdd0124

I'm the same way; i'll listen to anything from k-pop to modern chamber music to indie R&B. I'm going through a Brit Pop phase right now.

And this album is addicting. I'm over Timbaland (I think he has a dated sound; when I listen to him, I think of 2003). But he and Justin just work so well together. They were able to deliver their signature sound, but still make it sound current. 

Plus I love the unconventional song structures on this album. 

Definitely a winner in my book.

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