My Secret Shames

Lumpy and I have a game when we go on driving trips where we talk about our "Secret Shame Bands" -- basically bands we really like, but are in no way cool (her big winner is Boston, mine is John Cougar Mellencamp -- and I include "Cougar" deliberately). Today, as I was sitting in the Dunkin' Donuts Drive Thru, I popped in a Foo Fighters CD, and, I must say, I was enjoying myself pretty thoroughly. But, as I played drums on my steering wheel, I began to ponder why Foo Fighters aren't "cool," and I came up with a list of 5 bands which I think are really good but are, for one reason or another, not cool at all (or at least as far as I can tell -- they could be cool in some circles -- but I don't see the kids wearing the t-shirts), and not so uncool they come back around the other end to "cool" -- such as Journey, which was name-checked by Dave Eggers (plus, the "nah-nahs" in "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" are undeniable) or Bon Jovi. Here's my 5, what are yours?

Foo Fighters -- Something about them is clearly uncool. The hooks? That they're not Nirvana? Who knows? But "Stacked Actors" off of Nothing Left to Loose is one of the most exciting openings to an album in years (especially when the bass kicks in).

Rush -- Perenially uncool. Led Zeppelin could get away with singing about The Lord of the Rings and vikings, why can't these guys?

The Cult -- In my opinion, producers of two of the best albums of the '80s -- Love and Electric (plastic lobster telephone lyrics and all). And one of the best live shows I've ever seen (possibly because my friend Alison took down Ian Astbury by grabbing his balls in a groupie frenzy while my other friend (officially voted the prettiest girl at my high school) distracted the security guards by smiling and giggling a lot). Plus, I like the fact that their name kept getting shorter for a while, as shown on the new Goth box set, which includes tunes by "The Southern Death Cult," "The Death Cult," and "The Cult." Look for a new album by "Ult." Lumpy and I's final wedding dance song was "Wildflower."

Drivin' and Cryin' -- Great Southern Rock. Saw them on tour with Living Colour, which was a little bit of a weird bill.

Third Eye Blind -- I got the Greatest Hits package about a month ago, and the first seven songs are perfect power pop. What happened with those dudes? Was it the Curse of Winona Ryder (whereby the actress's romantic interest in your band leads to it beginning to suck mightily. See, e.g., Soul Asylum, Jamiroquai, and Paul Westerberg)?


Trevor Jackson said...

If liking Foo Fighters, Rush, and the Cult make you uncool consider me Fred Rogers.

But I'll start my list with a fresh 5 w/o explanation or defense:

Hall & Oates
3rd Bass
Weather Report
Jimmy Eat World
most of Counting Crows catalog

Grendel said...

The Carpenters, The Bee Gees, and ABBA were terrific bands whose work holds up well to this day.

traca de broon said...

I don't feel uncool about liking something unless it's music that I know to not be good music, but that makes me feel good anyway. Like certain songs by Toto, Depeche Mode, The Psychedelic Furs, The Outfield, Hole. I like all of Ozzy's solo albums. I used to be able to rap "Rock Me Amadeus" in German. I genuinely love John Denver, and have been trying to convert Grendel to his songs of trees and children for a decade now with no success. Whenever Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone" comes on the radio in the car (as it did often in Iowa), I pick up speed and kind of rock out a little.

Trevor Jackson said...

Well put, Traca. I think my list remains unchanged even with that definition.

Ozzy's "Ultimate Sin" was probably the first time I really got ecstatic, in a religious sense, by music. I was 11 or 12 and using headphones turned up very loud.

traca de broon said...

For me, Trevor, it was 1986. I was standing in my aunt's London flat washing dishes, wearing a Benetton sweatshirt, a denim skirt, and Chuck Taylors when I started listening to The Ultimate Sin on my walkman. It was the precise moment I morphed from sweet teen to rebel teen. If it were an Ozzy video, I would have looked at my reflection in the kitchen window and seen my eyes turned devil red.

Mr. Middlebrow said...

With the possible exceptions of Styx and Go West, I don't think of any artists I follow(ed) as Secret Shames.

But I'll cop to having enough guilty-pleasure singles to make a pretty good K-Tel Secret Shame Mix Tape:

Ace of Bass, "I Saw the Sign"

Extreme, "More than Words"

Santana/Michele Branch, "Game of Love"

Pink, "Just Like a Pill"

Beyonce, "Crazy in Love"

Crash Test Dummies, "The Superman Song"

Loggins & Messina, "House at Pooh Corner"

Gordon Lightfoot, "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

Kenny Chesney, "The Good Stuff"

semanticist said...

God I LOVE the Cult. But Cameron Crowe sorta ruined them for me in "Singles," in the dorm party scene with "She Sells Sanctuary" blaring in the background.

I can't hear that song now without thinking about Sensitive Ponytail Man saying to Linda, as he looked with loathing at the other students, "There's so much life in you ... and so much emotional larceny in these others."

Trevor Jackson said...

"You know, it's okay to loathe these people."

If we really want to hold Cameron Crowe responsible for a crime, it should be for what he did to Peter Gabriel. You really only need to look at that remixed trailer for "Shining" to understand why.

T-bone said...

John Camp-Cougar-Mellon. I will stop to listen to anything put out by Air Supply.

El Gordo de Amore said...

Didn't the Ultimate Sin have that video where the girl looks at the billboard and is taken over by the power of Ozzy?

That was pretty bitching.

chad said...

Not sure where this fits but I've been listening to a band called Midlake, esp a song called "Roscoe." I think all would like. I think they have a time machine whose dial is jammed and they can only go to the 1970s.

OH and T. fucking Rex.

Grendel said...

Relive The Ultimate Sin video for yourself. Ozzy is a Dallas/JR-type character who keeps watching himself in concert on telly, and on the telly a girl somehow "sees" him and gets those red devil eyes. It seems she's taken over by the power of Ozzy through the television screen. It's shockingly 80s.

El Gordo de Amore said...

Oh -- I was thinking of "Shot in the Dark" -- although the girl is also in the "Ultimate Sin" video.

And "Rosecoe" is pretty great -- a read a review comparing Midlake to the Eagles, but in a good way.

traca de broon said...

If memory serves, "Shot in the Dark" is the one where she hops in the convertible and goes to the concert and gets the red devil eyes. (I never saw cool videos growing up in Germany, only whatever was on "Top of the Pops" at a time when David Hasselhoff ruled the airwaves--NOT a secret shame, to be totally clear--but I did catch a few Ozzy videos that a friend had on VHS.) And yeah, it was pretty bitching.

Trevor Jackson said...

Yes to "Roscoe"--Fleetwood Mac reborn. That and "In This Camp" off Midlake's most recent album are available here.

Grendel, 666 thanks for the Ozzy video.

Grendel said...

And here is the "Shot in the Dark" video.

traca de broon said...

Gosh, Gren, never knew you were such an Ozzy fan. This is fantastic news!

This video reminds me of a very long letter I wrote to my parents, making my case for why they should let me go to an Ozzy concert alone at age 15. It worked, and then the show was canceled. Back then, I wanted to be a heavy metal drummer when I grew up. Or an editor of educational materials--it was pretty much an either/or.

Lumpy said...

EGDA was embarrassed to publicly admit his wife's other secret shame--but I'm not. I'm proud. Proud to say that even now, when those joyful synthesizers flood my car, I am once again a sixteen year old girl in love with a gay man in a gold lame bathing suit riding an inflatable inchworm across the stage.

I give you Erasure.

Brando said...

REO Fucking Speedwagon, with my favorite being "Don't Let Him Go." The warbling vocals of Kevin Cronin. The analog keyboards of Neil Doughty. And the competent lead guitar of Gary Richrath.

I also consciously and knowingly purchased Kelly Clarkson's "Since You've Been Gone" off iTunes. Some of you may have noticed the scarlet K on my breast.

I also still air guitar to Dio's "Rainbow in the Dark" and Whitesnake's "Still of the Night."

But I will not apologize for Rush. Blue Oyster Cult once gave us two choices: On Your Feet or on Your Knees. With Rush, it is the former.

Brando said...

I also should add that I had a poster of that center band photo of the Cult in my room in high school. No cool Cult logo or anything, just Billy Duffy's Keifer Sutherland Lost Boy's hair and Ian Ashbury in a Davy Crockett hat, plus the other two humps from the rhythm section. All it was missing to get a perfect uncool score was a plastic fantastic lobster telephone in the picture.

Aldous Bukowski said...

Foo Fighters and The Cult aren't cool? ???

I dispute that.