I hate to admit this: I enjoy late 90’s boy bands.

I’m not a guy who sits back and cranks up N’Sync every day, but I’m not a massive hater of the genre, either. In fact, I appreciate a good song regardless of whether or not it was sung by a group of wannabe posers. A good song is a good song.

After bands like New Edition and New Kids on the Block redefined what it meant to be a boy band in the 1980’s, the genre died off a bit at the beginning of the 1990’s. In fact, a number of genres died off to make room for grunge and house music.

bsbcoverAs the decade rolled on, however, out came a band that nobody had seen before: the Backstreet Boys.

The first hit was “We’ve Got It Goin’ On”. I’ll be honest…I had no idea this song was sung by five teeny-bopper white boys until a couple of weeks after hearing the song for the first time.

Then the next slew of hit songs were released: “Get Down”, “I’ll Never Break Your Heart“, “Quit Playing Games“, etc.

nsyncThe next thing you know, boy bands began to pop out of nowhere with hit singles…most notably, N’Sync. With hits like “Tearin’ Up My Heart”, “It’s Gonna Be Me”, and “Bye Bye Bye”, they became the #1 boy band world-wide and (being a club DJ) I had another slew of songs that I had to play every single weekend.

But then MORE boy bands came out. Some of them…

…did better than others…

but almost all of them had at least one hit song that you could dance to and enjoy.

It’s now 2014 and that time has passed. It’s been long enough that you can go back and listen to “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” and not get thoroughly embarrassed. You can listen to “Rock the party” and turn up the stereo just a little bit after your drop your kids off at school.

You can even still see a few of these bands in concert, garnering throngs of fans both young AND old.

one2Of course, it’s also been long enough that a new type of boy band has arrived in the form of One Direction. These guys are massive superstars on a level comparable to the heights reached by N’Sync. Add in other bands like XX and XX and you’ve got an entirely new catalogue of songs to enjoy.

Y’know…if you’re into that kind of music.

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Grease

Posted: March 28, 2013 in Movies, Music
Tags: , , , ,

Grease is the word that you heard. It’s got groove; it’s got meaning.

Grease is the time, is the place, is the motion.

Grease is the way we are feeling.

Wait…what??

grease 3And so begins one of the most popular movie musicals of all time. Of course having said that, there aren’t a ton of really popular movie musicals out there to choose from. So how is it that this particular one, a movie with a blend of 70’s disco beats and 50’s classic feel with a splash of basic storyline stirred-up with a full batch of bad acting, has not only stood the test of time but continues to be a cult favourite over 30 years after it was released?

Grease Sing-A-LongI guess that’s the question, isn’t it. I mean, it’s not hard to see that Grease has a pretty basic storyline. There’s no real plot twists to speak of and it’s ultimately a “boy meets girl” kind of movie, so it’s not like The Sixth Sense or Inception or anything like that. The music, while fun and catchy, isn’t anything particularly brilliant. The acting is bad…just plain bad. From John Travolta’s over-the-top schtick to Jeff Conaway’s greaser friend to the ridiculousness of the faculty…each person is a caricature as opposed to being a character.

greaseAt it’s core, though, it’s got heart. And really, I think that’s why so many people love the movie and the music and the acting and the story so much after so long.

There are a multitude of reasons for why this movie should be forgotten forever (the sequel, Grease 2, has been considered a “guilty pleasure” but at the end of the day it’s just REALLY bad and should definitely be forgotten forever), but because it still lives on it has to be considered a major guilty pleasure.

Oh…and that whole “You’re the one that I want” song just never leaves your head once the movie ends…

Poutine

Posted: March 14, 2013 in Food
Tags: , ,

poutineAs a Canadian, this particular guilty pleasure kind of goes without saying. As a reader from another country, you may not have much of an idea of what I’m talking about (or “aboot”, as it may be).  So here it goes…

Poutine is French fries covered with cheese curds and brown gravy.

Now right off the bat, that might not sound like the most appealing or tasty food you’ve ever heard of. However, if you’ve ever had the chance to eat it yourself then I think you know just how awesome it actually is.

poutinePoutine originated in the Canadian province of Quebec in the late 1950’s. While many may claim to have originated the idea, there is no definitive proof of who, exactly, came up with the idea. The name (supposedly) came from Fernand Lachance of Warwick, Quebec, who is said to have exclaimed, “ça va faire une maudite poutine” (“it will make a damn mess”), hence the name.

Poutine is such a staple in the Canadian food industry that not only can you buy it at local fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s and Burger King.

Burger King poutine

Burger King poutine

McDonald's poutine

McDonald’s poutine

You can also find restaurants that are 100% dedicated to creating variations on the fry/cheese/gravy theme.

Smoke's Poutinerie

PoutineIt’s absolutely NOT healthy. It’s probably a billion calories. It looks disgusting. At the end of the day, however, it is one of the most popular food items in the entire country of Canada and has pretty much become the unofficial national food over the past 50+ years.

If you haven’t tried it yet, you NEED to at least once.

Indiana Jones 4

I grew up as a fan of Harrison Ford. I remember sitting in the theatres in the late 70’s watching Star Wars for the first time. I remember actually owning the soundtrack to Raiders of the Lost Ark on vinyl.

Ahhhh…those were the days.

Indiana Jones 4I wanted to forgive George Lucas for almost single-handedly destroying the Star Wars franchise with his horrible dialogue, Jar Jar Binks, and bad acting-infused “second trilogy”. I thought he would have learned his lesson. Surely he wouldn’t wreck the Indiana Jones series, would he? I mean, wouldn’t Spielberg or Ford himself jump in if things got too out of hand?

Apparently not.

Indiana Jones 4 (i.e. “…and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull) was the movie that was supposed to bring back an incredibly well-loved character and hopefully launch an entirely new Indy series with his son (i.e. Shia LaBeouf) as the lead. Unfortunately, what we got was a movie with very little Indiana Jones elements and a whole bunch of alien nonsense.

Oh…and that whole swinging monkey scene. And Cate Blanchett doing a horrible Russian character. Sigh…

Indiana Jones 4Listen, there were some Indy elements in the movie. The chase scene with the Russians was fun (the library scene was classic Indy), the jungle chase scene was good, and having Marion Ravenwood (i.e. Karen Allen) return was a nice twist. Some of the comedy and the set-up scenes were right out of the original Indy movies. The problem was Lucas infusing his love for all things alien into a series that should have had ZERO to do with aliens.

Sure, Indiana Jones movies were never the most realistic (Temple of Doom, anyone?), but they always tried to have some semblance of realism in them. While the 50’s were huge with Area 51 conspiracies and Russian communism fear-mongering, did they really need to be combined so blatantly?

Indiana Jones 4Yet people still watch and enjoy the movie. While openly criticized as being the worst of the series, it grossed almost $800 million worldwide and spawned talk of yet another sequel. I can’t lie…I’ve watched it on more than one occasion and own it on DVD (thought I’m not 100% convinced on buying it on Blu-Ray quite yet).

You want to hate it. You openly criticize it. You blow it off as “sucking”. Yet, you’re strangely drawn to watching it. This, my friends, is what a guilty pleasure movie is all about.

Phil Collins

Posted: February 28, 2013 in Music
Tags: , ,

Phil Collins

I’m almost hesitant to write this particular post because, quite frankly, I’m a massive Phil Collins fan. Saying that out loud, though, doesn’t happen very often.

Phil CollinsPhilip David Charles Collins was born on January 30, 1951. His career started off with a bang as he was a member of the English progressive rock band, Genesis. Starting as the band’s drummer and backing vocalist, Collins took over lead vocal duties once Peter Gabriel left the band in 1975. The band was seen as “cool” and “hip” and was, really, one of the original “alternative” bands during a time that disco, punk, and pop music was the norm.

All of that changed in 1982 with the release of Hello, I Must Be Going, which was Collins’ second solo album. Gone was the “coolness” of his Genesis songs like Turn It On Again and Abacab. Gone was the “kick-ass-ness” of In The Air Tonight from his first solo album. Instead, we were blasted with an example of where his career was going to go…

Phil CollinsNow this isn’t to say that the music of Phil Collins is bad in any way. On the contrary, his music brings a smile to my face every time I listen to it. The problem that fans like me have is that the music is, to say the least, “cheesy”. Whether it’s songs like Sussudio, Something Happened On The Way To Heaven, Invisible Touch, Dance Into The Light, Illegal Alien, or the entire Tarzan soundtrack…the musical path that Collins has taken has lacked a bit of (shall we say) “the coolness factor”.

Phil CollinsBut here’s some stats for you: Phil Collins has sold over 100 million records both as an individual artist and as part of a group (only Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson have done the same thing). As an individual and as part of Genesis, he had more Top 40 hits during the 1980’s than ANY other artist (think about that one, for a second). He is absolutely one of the most popular artists of all time.

So why the guilt? Well…how many times do you drive down the street with your windows down cranking out this little ditty?

Phil CollinsMaybe with the windows up? Yeah…exactly.

You KNOW that you love Phil, but you just want to keep that love to yourself. It’s fine…you’re not alone. Phil Collins is definitely worthy of being called a guilty pleasure.

Phil Collins

professional wrestlingI can’t deny it. I’ve been a fan since I was 7 years old. I was a fan during the 80’s, I was a fan during the 90’s, and I’m still a “casual” fan today (i.e. somebody who follows it but doesn’t like to tell anybody).

My guilty pleasure is professional wrestling.

tumblr_mcn1srz8ZL1rpw70to7_1280It’s weird, because for the longest time I was one of those “proud wrestling fans”. Y’know the type; completely happy with knowing that it’s a “male soap opera” and defending it as “sports meets entertainment” in the most masculine of ways. Or maybe they throw in the whole “the choreography might be there, but the punishment these guys take on their bodies is real” argument.

The problem with that line of thinking, however, is that at the end of the day you’re still watching grown men in spandex underwear pretending to fight each other.

It sucks you in at an early age, too. Boys are going to like hard-hitting sports like football or action movies like The Avengers or kick-ass games like Halo. As a result, they’re also going to like professional wrestling.

Listen, I can’t sit here and tell the world that I’m NOT a wrestling fan because I’d be lying. I wish I could sit here and eloquently describe to you just why I’m drawn to this…sport? I want to be able to describe just how much of an art there is to making wrestling look real and also be entertaining at the same time.

But I can’t.

warrior_crop_650x440It’s silly and I love it. It’s over-the-top personalities and characters and spectacle and sports and a rock concert and pyrotechnics and fantasies come to life all wrapped-up in one kick-your-ass package. It’s everything I always thought I wanted in entertainment…it’s a one-stop shop for dudes and hardcord dudettes.

Think about this: where else in the world can you find a theatre that not only can get a reaction out of 20,000 people, but elicit that response from just one person? I don’t know what theatres YOU visit, but I don’t know the last time I saw an interactive play.

Professional wrestling is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The problem, though, is that it’s always been seen as entertainment for the “lowest common denominator” when it comes to the public: redneck low-income low-intelligence yokels who still think professional wrestling is real. The reality of the situation, however, is that it has been turned into family entertainment for all shapes and sizes and from all different kinds of backgrounds.

The key, though, is that it’s not “cool” to admit to watching wrestling at the moment. In the 80’s, it was mainstream. In the late-90’s, it was mainstream. Right now? Not so much.

wwe-mnr_0Don’t believe me? Do you know what a Ryback is? Do you care? Do you want to explain to your co-worker why Sin Cara will never be the next Rey Mysterio? Do you think you can explain why The Miz simply doesn’t work as a babyface?

Didn’t think so.

So while not nearly as popular as it used to be, there is still a MASSIVE audience for professional wrestling. And because 90% of those fans are too embarrassed to actually tell anybody about it, they help to make this the very definition of what a guilty pleasure is all about.

PeopleofWalmart_logo1

What is WRONG with people??

guilty pleasures, People of WalmartSeriously…why do people go out looking the way they do sometimes? And why do they always seem to end up going to Walmart? That’s kind of the point behind one of the most entertaining guilty pleasures on the internet: People of Walmart.

guilty pleasures, People of WalmartFor those of you otherwise uninformed, People of Walmart is a website that has turned into (seriously) a satirical social commentary of the extraordinary sights found at North America’s favourite store.

People of Walmart started back in 2009 by three friends and roommates after an inspirational trip to Walmart. The rest, as they say, is history. The website has become not only one of the most popular guilty pleasures anywhere online, but it has expanded to include other avenues (this 2013 calendar, for example).

3438MICH

guilty pleasures, People of WalmartAs they point out on their website, the People of Walmart aren’t trying to be serious a-holes…they’re simply trying to have some fun with the people who, for one reason or another, decide to go out in public looking the way they do.  As they state:

“We are trying to have some fun here and there is a difference between someone who is mentally challenged and a person who has a fu Manchu and is still rocking MC Hammer pants.”

guilty pleasures, People of WalmartAhhhh yes…MC Hammer. That’s another guilty pleasure for another day. In the meantime, I think you all realize that this isn’t a website that you’d normally view at work or in front of your family. Hence, it’s the very definition of an internet-based guilty pleasure.