Words by Bill San Antonio

When it comes to music, I don’t have a single guilty pleasure. I’ll give you three artists as proof: Modjo, Mickey Avalon and Justin Bieber.

The first name is responsible for the “Grand Theft Auto” soundtrack’s favorite song, “Lady – Hear Me Tonight,” an early 2000s banger by the French house group that holds up surprisingly well amid a genre on collision course for increasingly safe material made for vulnerable tweenage ears.

My justification for the second name is fairly simple: Avalon is so unabashedly misogynistic and horrible that you can hardly take him seriously as an Artist, and I’d like to think he’s aware of that. That’s what makes listening to tracks like “My Dick” and “Jane Fonda” so much fun – the rapper and the listener are in on the joke.

I am genuinely excited for the future of Justin Bieber’s career, though it took a few listens of his 2012 full-length “Believe” to convince me that his music could stand independent of his celebrity. It reminded me a lot of Justin Timberlake’s solo debut, “Justified,” in the transition from bubblegum pop sensation to R&B sex symbol. Bieber’s music showed the potential for maturity he has yet to show in his personal life, if only he’d continue to make it.

Consider this my leap – I am now on record saying I am not embarrassed about enjoying outdated electronica, white rappers with a comic sense of entitlement or acts whom I absolutely loathe as people (ask about my thoughts on Kanye West or Chris Brown or John Mayer, seriously). I could keep going: When I was nine I was an unabashed fan of both the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC; when I was 13, I listened to Korn and Limp Bizkit religiously; I didn’t discover the Beatles, Stones or Dylan until my freshman year of college, though years earlier my parents took me to see the Moody Blues in concert.

I shouldn’t have to defend my enjoyment of any of these acts – and you shouldn’t, either.

I’ve always found the concept of guilty pleasures confusing. Music, particularly rock music, is supposed to provide a haven for kids who don’t fit into mainstream culture. It champions the misfit as beautiful regardless of color or creed or economic status or sexual orientation.

But there’s a dark underbelly of judgment and scorn from rock fans to rock fans that belies such a welcoming environment. The next time you’re at a show, look around the room and see how many people earnestly clap when an opening band finishes its set. Just as bands changing genres are often viewed as sellouts, fans are tormented in the same way, with snobs snobbing on snobs to look cool and avoid embarrassment.

Please excuse my hypocrisy in bullying a point about non-bullying: that is a horseshit way to live or treat anyone, especially people within a community.

What does it matter that one of my first CDs was Smash Mouth’s “Astro Lounge?” It reached No. 6 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and went platinum three times, so clearly I’m not the only one who liked it. I just heard it when I was in the third grade, as I’m sure legions of other now-20-somethings did. I don’t listen to Smash Mouth anymore, nor do I listen to Limp Bizkit or Korn or boy bands. My world has changed in ways that disconnect me from that music today, and as I’ve grown up I’ve understood that I like what I like and I don’t like what I don’t like, but I stand by those opinions.

It’s silly to deny the reality that all of the music I’ve listened to in my life – from George Michael and the Village People to the Velvet Underground and Iggy Pop – has informed my worldview, musically or otherwise. Music has given me a sense of individuality, confidence and hope for the future. As it has for so many, music saved my life. And that, more than how much I like “Lady – Hear Me Tonight” (READ: A lot, you guys), is worth celebrating.

TheWaster.com | Not Guilty