If you ask me, you shouldn't feel guilty about guilty pleasures. A few years ago, on holiday in Barbados, I became obsessed with a record I kept hearing on the radio. From hotel to beach bar to rental car, I heard it everywhere I went. Rather irritatingly, it got to me, a piece of expertly manufactured pop that kept swimming round my mind like a trapped fish. Did anyone know what it was? Did they hell.
The legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson was also staying at the hotel and it was all I could do to stop myself from asking him (thankfully dignity got the better of me). Back in London I began my search; on a bum steer, not only did I invest in a couple of Corrs CDs (something I'm still trying to come to terms with), I even started singing what I thought was the song to shop assistants in HMV. (I am no longer allowed in the Oxford Street branch.) Eventually, more through luck than judgement, I found it: " You're Still The One" by Shania Twain, from, I discovered, her 35 million-selling album Come On Over. At first I thought that Shania would be a guilty pleasure, down there with the likes of Simply Red, Michael Crichton and the early work of Chris Farley, but soon the album became a fixture on the car CD, where it stayed for nearly two months. As all guilty pleasures should. And just last week I came across another one, a record by an " artist" I've spent 47 years avoiding (he's my mother-in-law's favourite, for one thing).
As I was searching iTunes for Kate Bush's version of Elton John's "Rocket Man " (which, I'd read, was pretty damn spectacular), I found another version, a live one no less, by that sultan of schmaltz, Neil Diamond. And I have to say it's become the record I play more than any other. I've always loved the song (who doesn't love it?), but to find such an extraordinary version by such an underwhelming singer – a recording so good it should be pavilioned in splendour and girded with praise – was strange indeed. But then I remembered that Martin Scorsese had insisted that Diamond perform at The Band's The Last Waltz (to represent Tin Pan Alley), that he had written "I'm A Believer" for the Monkees, that I'd always turned the radio up when "Sweet Caroline" or "Beautiful Noise" came on, and that I actually quite liked my mother-in-law. So if you've got five minutes to spare today, go online and buy it. Zero hour nine am maybe, if you're not high as a kite by then.
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'