leave your inhibitions at the door
Last week, I posed the question of whether Europeans have the concept of Guilty Pleasures. These are songs that you really, really shouldn’t like or are generally awful but you can’t stop yourself from loving them. The heart wants what the heart wants.
In my past travels to Europe, however, I got the sense that natives don’t have them. They surely fulfill both parts of the equation – the bad songs + really like them. However, it seemed that Europeans were lacking one of the key assumptions – knowledge that the song is bad, dated, or completely uncool.
The last time I was in Europe was almost a decade ago. Is it possible things have changed? Has the internet and music streaming sites brought a new level of hipness to our European brethren? Exposing them to all kinds of cool, new music?
I had to take a trip to Europe to find out…. OK, we were there as a family and music was the last thing on our minds. But work with me.
For Spring break this year, we planned a weeklong trip to Paris. As you can imagine, there will be a couple posts coming up about the amazing food we had there. Trips like this don’t happen very often, so we thought we’d take a side trip to Amsterdam for a couple days, too.
Rather than take the train up to Amsterdam, we decided to rent a car so that we could see more of the non-touristy parts of Europe. Part of the roadtrip included stops in Belgium on the way. Those plans were scrapped, however, when some major-league assholes decided to blow up parts of Brussels. And one of them had the nerve to still be on the loose, so you can imagine our reluctance to get off the highway.
Besides, I was having wayyyyy too much fun driving 175km per hour (roughly 110mph to us Americans) in this brand-new Audi A5….
We rented the car for three days for – including the extra charge for GPS – only $250. That’s INSANE. For giggles, I checked what I could rent in Detroit for that rate and it was some kind of piece of shit subcompact Chevy. And this was through Hertz, not some unknown European agency. Clearly a case where us Americans are getting suckered into settling for less.
Anyway, the music…
Even though Audis are awesome cars, they still strip them down for rentals. I was a little bummed that there wasn’t an iPod dock or auxiliary input so we could listen to our own music, if needed. So we were going to have to live with whatever came on French/Belgian/Dutch radio.
And it was bleak. There were several radio stations to choose from in the 2-3 hours we were in France. And in that 2-3 hour time period we heard SIX Michael Jackson songs. SIX!!! That’s more Michael Jackson songs than I’ve heard on American radio in the past two decades. It wouldn’t have been bad if they were from when he looked more like this….
Songs like “Stop the Love you Save”
Or “Don’t Stop til you get Enough”
And maybe one or two from “Thriller”. Unfortunately, those aren’t what we heard. The only recognizable one was “Man in the Mirror” and I hate that one. The rest were his latest songs from when he looked like this…
Which aren’t exactly the ones you point to when discussing the merits of MJ.
We also heard…
Cher’s Strong Enough
Wham’s Careless Whisper.
We had to take a bathroom break in Belgium which, incidentally, is a terrific name for a band. Bathroom Break in Belgium. And I saw this pretty cool 5-disc compilation of hits from the mid-90s to mid-00s.
Half of it is in French (some of which are pretty good) and there were some serious jams from here like Afroman, Blackstreet, and Weezer. All for 15 Euros – SCORE!
We found out that the car’s navigation system was run off of a DVD. So, in order to play the discs, we would’ve lost navigation. Not a good idea in a foreign country, with a terrorist on the loose, and road signs that we had no idea what they said. Told you they stripped down the car.
At least the radio stations got better when we transitioned from French-speaking Belgium to Dutch radio. There were still a lot of headscratchers, but at least there were more current songs being played.
So, yeah, I’m still thinking Guilty Pleasures is an American thing. USA! USA! USA!
But wait, maybe I need to travel to Asia to find out if they have them there….