2012 is rolling to a close. Thanksgiving is a little more than a week away, stores have begun their annual Operation: Christmas Music 24/7, and the album release schedule shifts into holiday mode shortly. As we look back on 2012, we’ll remember a lot of things: the London Olympics, Barack Obama’s re-election, and, most importantly, our introduction to “Call Me Maybe.”
Some argue that there should be no such thing as a guilty pleasure—that we like what we like and we should just accept it. But if you are whole-heartedly accepting everything that you enjoy without questioning it, you’re bound to end up a psychopathic, drug addicted hedonist. Some songs are corny, manufactured, cheap, obvious, and shallow. Still, they get stuck in our head, and sometimes we kind of like it. Does it make them great songs? No. But it does make them our favorite guilty pleasures.
We’re throwing dignity to the wind here. Only one rule: no “Gangnam Style” allowed.
10. Kelly Clarkson – “Stronger”
While it may not even be the #1 “Stronger” on our list of guilty pleasure songs called “Stronger” (Britney takes the title), Kelly Clarkson’s ode to rolling with the punches has hung around on radio, in commercials, and in the space between our ears since it saw release as a single in January. A timeless message delivered with Kelly’s usual gusto–a hard combination to resist.
9. Lil Debbie ft. Riff Raff – “Michelle Obama”
Can you think of a more fitting tribute to the first lady than yet another Lil Debbie/Riff Raff connection and a chorus that rhymes “Michelle Obama” with “Jeffrey Dahmer?” We can’t either.
8. Three Loco ft. Diplo – “We Are Farmers”
Take one ingenius sample, stir in one part Riff Raff, one part Andy Milonakis, and one part surprise Diplo rap cameo (sorry, Dirt Nasty, not so important here), and you get “We Are Farmers,” a song YouTube commenters Emily weed and MauriceF713 agree is absolutely undeniable:
Disagree with MauriceF713 at your own peril.
7. Nicki Minaj – “Stupid Hoe”
“Stupid Hoe” begins with a string of claps accompanied by whooping, announcing that what follows is going to attempt to drill its way into your vulnerable brain through the power of sheer repetition. By the time Nicki’s manic flow propels her to the chorus and its gloriously, endlessly repeated four words (“you a stupid hoe”), your head will swear you hate it, but your heart will know better. Because your heart knows that there is no way you’re going to get that shit out of your head for the next week.
6. Lil Poopy – “Coke Ain’t A Bad Word”
P&P’s Lil Poopy love affair has been well documented. It all started with “Coke Ain’t A Bad Word.” We just can’t deny that youthful energy. Hop on the bandwagon now before his inevitable chart dominance begins and you are no longer invited to the party while P&P gets to spray Coke all over everyone during the Lil Poopy hit parade.
5. Juicy J ft. Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz – “Bandz A Make Her Dance”
“You say no to ratchet pussy/Juicy J can’t.” How can you say no to that? As Juicy J continues the improbable third act of his career (perhaps not as improbable as act two, in which our hero from Memphis wins an Academy Award), “Bandz A Make Her Dance” represents the now ubiquitous peak, a staple of rap radio sure to grace the hallowed halls of strip clubs and Twerk Team-esque YouTube videos for years to come.
4. Future – “Same Damn Time”
Since announcing his manphibian auto-tuned presence on YC’s “Racks On Racks On Racks” (a sure contender for a list like this one a year ago), Future has made a name for himself with choruses that do the money dance along the razor’s edge between catchy and incessant, often at the (wait for it) same damn time. His 2012 hit packs a towering beat atop which Future delivers an endearingly goofy chorus and his unmistakable auto-tune croak, all with the breakneck urgency.
3. 2 Chainz – “Birthday Song”
“All I want for my birthday is a big booty ho.” By now, if you’re paying attention to hip-hop in 2012, you’ve heard those words and, hopefully, have adjusted your birthday wish list accordingly. The chorus is simple, silly, and utterly over the time, but 2 Chainz’s energy and big booty worship have turned “Birthday Song” into that most insidious of guilty pleasures: the song that begins as a joke, eventually making its home on your playlists and in your brain before you can notice and save yourself.
2. Tyga – “Rack City”
1. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe”
You can’t escape it. You can try to deny it, but, as the old adage goes: resistance is futile. Like a swarm of singing locusts, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” looms large over 2012’s devouring every inch of your brain until all you can think about is giving someone your number and calling them, maybe. It’s the song that birthed countless memes, cover versions, remixes, parody videos, headaches, and impromptu sing-a-longs. We’re not supposed to love it, but some things can’t be helped.