They are commonly called guilty pleasures, but guilt is never a good reason to do or feel anything. Still, when I'm sitting with my art critic and film aficionado friends, and we're talking about how wonderful Stockhausen or Tom Waits or Can were, I inevitably and accidentally let slip that I might love some of these bands. Then I am taunted and the waiter refuses my appeals for more escargot. At which point I flip them the bird, storm out and drive off in my mudflapped truck. Here they are. And I defend them all. Commentary in the "Discuss" balloons.
These are the guys I take crap for the most. I believe it springs from their massive pop success in the '80s with songs that were, I admit, occasionally insidious in their catchiness. And don't ask me to defend the "H2O" album; it's pretty boring mostly. But I will take any of their late '70s albums over almost any pop produced that decade. Hall had an internal creative tension that shipped him out to find some pretty unusual influences. Even if they're inauthentic to some, they're performed well. He's also one of the best singers alive. John Oates wrote some great songs, peaking in 1976, but he's far less of a silent partner than you think. And "Voices" was just a great album. Whether "Kiss On My List" is on it or not. I don't care anymore. I'll take the heat for this one. I can go for that. see more on Hall & Oates
Over the top. Incapable of shutting off certain taps of inspiration ("Roll Over Beethoven") that did not serve them well. Beatles rip-offs. And you can't seduce groupies with a cello. But when ELO committed itself to their pop status and didn't try to prove you could shred with a string quartet, like "Out of the Blue," they were stunning. hell, I even like their songs from "Xanadu" (as long as they sing them). Tried too hard to turn musical fads into epics ("Shine A Little Love"), and never sang about anything really important, but when I've shuttled a few PBR's down my throat and want to reconcile my youth with my career? "Mr. Blue Sky" babycakes. see more on Electric Light Orchestra
There is no reason in the world I should have to defend Steely Dan. I can't figure out where the resentment comes from. But it's come up. I think there are some people out there who associate them too closely with AOR soft rock, or even worse jazz fusion. But their detractors miss the subversion of the form that was existent their entire career. These were nasty lyrics, man. And very unsentimental. So when you got a dose of their more genteel emotional side (most of the "Aja" album), you could believe it. Because up 'til then they were the smuggest assholes on the scene, and you couldn't mess with them because they played jazz chords. Kind of punk, if you ask me. see more on Steely Dan