A friend recently asked, "What's the cheesiest song you love without shame?"
But of course, answering this question requires a degree of shame and a touch of embarrassment. When the world thinks of melted mozzarella and cheddar jack every time it hears one of your most beloved songs, it means you have to profess your love with a little delicacy.
It's different for me, however, because while I'm not a dairy farmer from Wisconsin, I possess a library of cheesy favorites. Heck, I can cull multiple songs from entire genres considered cheesy.
I'll take '70s soft rock for 600, Alex.
At the top of my Velveeta list, however, stands a song that literally inspires joy in my heart every time I hear it. The first time Debbie Gibson's Only In My Dreams came on the radio while I tooled around Lake County in my silver Plymouth Champ, I loved it. And the second time, the third time and the 1,237th time.
I'm willing to wager Orlando's Y106 played Only In My Dreams at least once every day between December 1986 and August 1988, and I never turned the radio.
And I'm not alone. Spotify listeners have played Only In My Dreams 729,000 times. I account for only 600,000.
What I call infectious, some call an earworm. What I call fun and danceable, some call mindless and silly. Such diverse opinions might set off a fight, but I don't get upset, because my love of Only In My Dreams can't be tarnished.
What's amazing — well, at least, it amazes me — is that I can't even fully comprehend my adoration. I could go into a long dissertation about the syncopated percussions or the smooth flowing bass, but c'mon — can true love really be defined by clinical assessments?
Still, a sheepish look washes over my face as I type these words. It's as if I can see people rolling their eyes.
It doesn't help that Gibson, who posted a string of hits in the '80s, opened the video to this classic club hit by waking up in a bed on the beach.
It doesn't help that she tried to revamp her youthful pop music image by changing her name to Deborah.
Still, I stand with Gibson, her hoop earrings and her polka dot gloves. I love it all.
Now I just need everyone else to admit they, too, have that one song they adore even though it makes people question whether they want to remain friends with you.
Milli Vanilli fans, rise.
All of you who get choked up listening to Total Eclipse of the Heart, stand tall.
Absolve yourself if you bought a 5.0 Mustang because Vanilla Ice rolled down A1A in one — with the ragtop down.
Don't wear an overcoat and dark sunglasses if you're going to the Tampa Bay Times Forum next Friday to hear Barry Manilow sing Mandy. Be proud. After all, Mandy gave without taking.
Don't feel bad if Hall and Oates' You Make My Dreams Come True ranks as a favorite. Joseph Gordon-Levitt danced to it in (500) Days Of Summer. So now it's not old and cheesy, it's kitschy and cool.
Everyone cherishes some Velveeta song or other, because somehow it is linked to a joyful time or an indelible moment.
You get excited when you hear the first few notes and turn up the volume. You sing along even as your 12-year-old daughter cringes, and if you're alone in the car, you sing at the top of your lungs.
And for those 3 minutes and 57 seconds, you medicate yourself with a drug more powerful than Prozac.
Cheesy? What's wrong with that? I'd like to know.
That's all I'm saying.