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#FridayFind | Midnight Oil – “Beds Are Burning”

This song should not have been a hit. There, I said it. This song is a sort of anthem… for paying your rent? By Australians? In a bizarre chorus that I can only imagine is two roommates arguing about the world at large (“How can we dance when the earth is turning?/How do we sleep while our beds are burning?”) and their unpaid rent. At the very least one of them turns out to be the voice of reason!

Digging deeper, it actually turns out to be a protest song with the goal of returning lands to the Aboriginal Pintupi tribe. Which now explains the anti-Imperialist lyric: “Four wheels scare the cockatoos/From Kintore East to Yuendemu”.

What makes this song such a guilty pleasure for me is the raw, unpolished vocals that typified most 80’s New Wave of it’s day. Lead singer Peter Garrett does not try to “Americanize” his voice, instead accentuating the accent throughout. And who doesn’t like a song that starts with epic trumpet blasts?

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#FridayFind | Robyn – Show Me Love

“Show Me Love”, the 1997 hit that Robyn penned with Swedish hit-maker Max Martin (“…Baby One More Time”) was a track off her debut album “Robyn is Here”. My girlfriend at the time had the CD and would repeatedly play it in her bedroom after school while we’d hang out. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this song would earworm it’s way into my heart. Today, Robyn has moved from Britney Spears territory into a firm Kylie Minogue-like existence with the dance-floor sensation hit “Dancing on My Own”. Today, she’s essentially moved firmly from the mainstream to indie darling with interviews in Pitchfork or collaborations with Norway’s electric duo Röyksopp.

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#FridayFind | Toto – Africa

The time has come for my inaugural #FridayFind guilty pleasure pick. And what better artist to start out with than Toto, and their amazing #1 hit “Africa”.

Why has this tune endured for me? Partially because the lyrics make absolutely no sense. I have no idea why a woman coming on a mid-day flight has any damn thing to do with rains in another country. And I don’t know why a man cares about Mount Kilimanjaro’s similarities to Mount Olympus. My money is on keyboardist/vocalist David Paich and drummer Jeff Porcaro merely needing lyric lines to rhyme.

While not quite as embarrassing to knowing all the words to “Careless Whisper”, when I was a young lad, I would rather die than admit that this cheesy song was one of my all-time favorites. It wasn’t until I grew into my own in NYC and a close buddy, tech journalist Chris Velazco, shared his joy for the tune too! What followed was repeated karaoke entries of the song at Sing Sing and other dingy sing-along ‘oke bars across the 5 boroughs.

One such occasion happened in San Francisco in front of a majority of my colleagues at TechCrunch. The moment I submitted it, a pang of fear gripped me. What if we were laughed out of the room? Surely such an unironic tune with a killer marimba and pitch perfect harmonies would get the crowd going? To my undying joy and adulation, nearly everyone gleefully joined in with singing at the top of their lungs.

As you can see, even to this day, I quite enjoy the thigh-slapping action a good jam of “Africa” produces.

So this just happened #africa

A video posted by Chris Velazco (@vlzco) on

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From Guilty Beginnings

Music is the great equalizer. Many forms of art still remain relatively unattainable to the masses without a big money commitment. But radio and home stereo ownership exploded music into pretty much any American home as long as you wanted it. I was raised in a home that was dominated with music. My father proudly built his stereo setup which included an enviable vinyl record collection, of which I inherited half.

My collection has expanded quite a bit, but a majority of his mint classics remain.

Music ownership and knowledge became a point of pride for my whole family and I began digging into each genre for hidden gems. It was around the time I could buy music that we also started getting Rolling Stone and SPIN on our doorstep each month. What followed was an education on classic and must-own albums. I began to despise most “Pop” music while in my teen years. The Popular Music that I enjoyed was stuff from earlier decades – The Beatles, the Rat Pack, Michael Jackson or even Elton John. But even as my tastes started to veer to the underground, to the hidden gems, there was always a part of me that could admit I enjoyed cheesy or catchy tunes. Some earworms took a deep hold of me and I would seek out songs that I wouldn’t dare admit to my guy friends or family.

This was the beginning of my admiration for guilty pleasure music. Tracks, artists and albums that I enjoyed despite the embarrassment or stigma. Some were choices that were before their time culturally, and some were just cringeworthy that I couldn’t help but love.

So, The Guilty Mixtape is my outlet for all the music I couldn’t share with the world, but enjoyed repeatedly in quiet. Some are #throwback picks that I wouldn’t admit when younger but proudly love today. Others are recent favorites that I think you should hear and guiltily love with me. The rest are submissions from people I respect — friends, journalists, musicians and more. Anybody who feels brave enough to confess their musical sins. Welcome!

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