[Editor's Note: Fuck Guilty Pleasures celebrates the over-produced, commercial, artless, lowbrow music that we believe is genuinely worthwhile. Like, among the best music ever.]
On South Park, Enya is portrayed as a horrible joy-sucking presence in pop-culture. Her music actually forces Stan to comprehend the horrors of being old, immobile, and faced with the encroaching certainty of death. Ostensibly, Trey Parker and Matt Stone are inferring that music this flagrantly Caucasian can make even an 8-year old boy have an existential crisis.
This is a pretty common opinion. For most people, Enya represents the absolute worst of willowy, adult-contemporary trash. She's less hip than Nickelback, Maroon 5 or even Seal. Everyone's mom loves Enya. And let's be honest, it's pretty easy to make fun of anyone who has four Grammys for Best New Age Album.
But here's the thing, Enya is actually awesome. Sure, she takes herself way too seriously, but that's just par for the course if you're the kind of singer that makes music perfectly suited to the Lord of the Rings' soundtrack. The people who chastise Enya always focus on the plebeians who buy her records, not necessarily her craft. Because frankly, anyone who claims they've never enjoyed an Enya song is totally full of shit. You can talk all sorts of mess about the pseudo-spiritual bullshit middle-aged dudes find in, like, “Only Time,” but she's amazingly efficient at creating gorgeous backgrounds. Sometimes, unabashed prettiness is all you need.
Try to clear your head of anything you associate with Enya for a few seconds. Forget about Frodo, forget that she's sold more than 75 million albums worldwide, forget about “The River Sings.” Open your Spotify, put on her greatest hits, and lay down in your bed. Doesn't that feel good? Doesn't it take the edge off the rest of the world? That centering, soothing feeling you have means you've totally fallen under her spell. Very few songwriters can so effectively bring us into their universe. If Enya's music doesn't calm you, you're probably not human.
Everyone from hardcore crusties to the pope can use some Enya from time to time. Take Clams Casino, the blog-famous beatmaker best known for being the secret weapon of every internet rapper. He's definitely not in her demographic, but the mystic, feminine swoon on “I'm God” is straight out of Enya's fantasyland. We can't be so hip to talk up Selected Ambient Works while giggling about Shepherd Moons — these worlds are much closer than some would like to admit.
No, we're not going to be running out to catch any Enya shows any time soon, mostly because we're not down with dress codes, solemn aesthetics, and old people. But we will say this: there is a time in everyone's life where Enya is the greatest artist in the history of music. Maybe it's after a bad breakup, a glimpse of mortality, or while you're experiencing general anxieties, but her music can straight-up understand you. Life is full of moments where Enya is the only answer, and she's the only musician we've ever been able to say that about.
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