The RP’s Top 5 Guilty Pleasures: What Are Yours?

Ready or not, it’s time for my latest top five pop culture list.

(If you missed my earlier gems, check them out here: My Favorite Breakup Song, My Favorite Hoops Books, The Most Jew-ish Gentiles, My Favorite “Docs” who Weren’t Doctors, and Pretty Boys I Begrudgingly Admire).

In today’s Facebook culture, we all have an opportunity to share with the world our favorite pop culture: books, magazines, musicians, movies, etc.  Head to my page, and you get a candid look at the artists and writers whom I enjoy — from Springsteen to Twain to Tony Soprano.

But while I don’t mislead my “friends,” I must admit — particularly from my previous political perch — that I’ve never engaged in full pop culture disclosure.  Indeed, I have some unusual favorite acts and shows about which I’m a little embarrassed to admit.

Since part of my recovery as a recovering politician is complete candor, I will now finally admit some of my most guilty pop culture pleasures.  I hope you still respect me in the morning.

Here goes:

5.  ” I Want it That Way,” The Backstreet Boys

A boy band? Why are you looking at me like that?  First of all, two of BSB are Kentucky boys; one’s even from Lexington.  Sure they’re purty.  And frankly I can’t stand most of their music. But have you ever listened to this song?  The harmonies are exquisite, the lyrics are charming, and the performance is pitch-perfect.  I even get a little verklempt listening to it.  So what if I make sure my car windows are closed before I start belting the chorus along with them?  I am proud to finally admit it — I want it that way!

4. People Magazine

Finally, 20 years of blackmail by my barber are over.  No longer will I hide my People underneath a Sports Illustrated cover.  I will revel in the celebrity-friendly gossip, the true tales of ordinary bravery or tragedy, the truly significant debate over who is really the sexiest man alive! (My vote still goes to George Clooney.)  While I never touch the mean-spirited tabloids, and I’ve outgrown the uber-sophomoronic lad mags, I will now fully embrace my inner fanboy and simply accept that a haircut is not complete unless I have scoured two Peoples. And I dare you to try to resist its all-American charm.

3. MTV’s Real World/Road Rules Challenges

If Real World is the grandaddy of reality programming, than this “spinoff” is its seriously deranged cousin. I’ve recently grown tired of the standard Real World formula: take 7 great looking, stupid young people, give them lots of alcohol and watch them fight and “hook up.”  The Challenges take the prettiest, the stupidest, and the least alcohol-resistant, take them to an exotic location, ply them with booze, place them in ridiculous competitions, and offer the “winner” loads of money. Watch them scheme, backstab, betray, and otherwise destroy each other. What results is the week’s funniest 60 minutes of television.

2. Barenaked Ladies, “Gordon”

Think of BNL, and what comes to mind usually is insipid pop with third grade lyrics. (My favorite, from One Week: “We can hide out under there/Just made you say ‘underwear'”) But their first album was simply brilliant.  If you get past all of the Canadian-isms (“Grade 9,” “tree fort,” “Kraft dinner”), you hear some extremely clever songs with a terrific score.  “You Can Be My Yoko Ono,” “New Kids on the Block,” and “Box Set” are insta-classcs, while my favorite tune on the album is “If I Had a Million Dollars.”  It is worth purchasing the album alone for the one moment of hearing Steven Page scat melodically, “Haven’t you ever wanted a monk-eeee?”

1. Billy Madison

Best comedy ever.  Yes, better than Caddyshack, better than Animal House, better than the Stooges, any self-important Woody Allen flick or pompous foreign farce. Its incredible cast includes Steve Buscemi, Chris Farley, Norm MacDonald, and that dude who played Josh Lyman on The West Wing. I’ve seen it a dozen times, and I laugh every single watching.  And it is not simply funny: It is incredibly sweet with some powerful underlying messages.  Just check out my favorite scene:  Adult Billy’s third-grade pal wets his pants, and to spare him embarrassment, Billy throws water on his crotch, and declares: “You ain’t cool…unless…you pee yo’ pants.”  Move over, Fellini.

OK, RP Nation, your turn. Please share your guiltiest pop culture pleasures in the comments section below.


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