My friends are really excited about fall this year. Not because they’re academically minded individuals and they’re eager to return to learning, or because they have a penchant
for pumpkin carving and leaf raking. Instead, they’re excited because it means the weather will turn cooler and I will finally
stop rolling down the windows in my precious Subaru.
Worried about their perfectly-styled coifs? Nope. Concerned about their contact lenses drying out from the wind? Not even close. Tired of weird smells from SEPTA buses and fried chicken emporiums on Broad Street? Guess again.
No, my friends are thrilled, because in my car, when the windows go down, the volume goes up. And I have a weakness for the poppiest of pop music.
My personal favorites this summer have ranged from Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” to Beyonce’s “Deja vu” with the occasional rock out to Ashley Parker Angel’s “Let You Go.” I want to drive to songs that are so sweet that they’re dripping saccharine and so catchy that even the tone deaf can be seen tapping their toes to the beat. (Think: “MmmBop” by Hanson or “It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy.) If there is a one-hit wonder or an awesomely-bad single-of-the-minute, you can be certain that I not only love it, but I listen to it.
I believe that you can’t help but enjoy these songs on some basic level. No, the lyrics aren’t profound and despite the appearance of a piano in his reality show, I sincerely doubt that Ashley Parker Angel did the musical accompaniment to his ditty. But that’s what makes these songs great. They’re fluffy and fun and fabulous. And yes, I know they’ll be replaced by some other equally catchy, equally simple song in the coming weeks – but that’s what makes them so good. They aren’t intended to be around forever. They’re intended to entertain.
After begging me endlessly to put on music by “real bands,” my friends have often questioned why I continue to blast these songs when I know that – in many cases – the artist may never release another album or that the song will disappear from radio catalogues within a few weeks. They mention such artists as Right Said Fred (I know we all remember “I’m Too Sexy”) and Deep Blue Something of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” fame. Sometimes, they try to argue that a lot of pop artists don’t play their own instruments or write their own lyrics. And that some pop songs are blatant rip-offs of former hits, like a certain song by the former Mrs. Lachey that sounds strikingly similar to Madonna’s “Holiday.”
I know these facts. I understand them and I accept them. I don’t listen to pop music to appreciate the fantastic vocal stylings of Paris Hilton or to marvel at the instrumentals in the latest tune by the Pussycat Dolls. I don’t need a deeper metaphorical
meaning within the lyrics of Nelly Furtado’s next single. I listen to pop music because it makes me happy. It allows me to have a momentary escape from the hectic reality that is the life of a college student. You can call it a guilty pleasure or instant gratification. But I just call it simple entertainment.
Perhaps one day I’ll hear some of these songs on the oldies station, years after their original release, and feel embarrassed about my adoration for all things pop. But until then, I’ll continue to crank up the volume and rock out. Even if it’s only for a few seconds when I hear that Fergie Ferg’s going to love me “long time.”
Erica Palan can be reached at