…Something pleasurable that induces a usually minor feeling of guilt. – Merriam-Webster
…Something that you shouldn’t like, but like anyway. – Urban Dictionary
These definitions focus on emotional and cognitive elements (e.g., feelings of guilt, pleasurable, shouldn’t like, like), but they overlook the behaviors associated with guilty pleasures. In short, when you feel guilty about something, you typically want to hide it from others.
Consider music as an example.
Take the guilty pleasure (music) test
In order to find out if a song or artist is a guilty pleasure, imagine you are driving on a warm day and your windows are rolled down. You are listening to a song with the volume up, and you stop at a red light. There is a pedestrian to your right who is about to cross the street. To your left is another car with its windows down.
If you would A) roll up your window or B) turn down the volume on the song (or both), then the song/artist you are listening qualifies as a guilty pleasure.
Do the thought experiment. I think you will agree.
Free yourself from the guilt.
Try casting aside concerns about judgment and admit to the world what you like.
Although these songs are not the guiltiest of my guilty pleasures, here a few that qualify according to my test.
Wang Chung (seriously):