People have differing opinions as to what "fun" music is.
Some may define it as the "Yummy Yummy Yummy" days of bubblegum pop. Others will go the more literal route and say songs like "I Get Around" by The Beach Boys - which uses the word "fun" approximately 1,739 times - provide an apt definition. Another portion of the population may believe the "White and Nerdy" stylings of "Weird Al" Yankovic are the most fitting examples of "fun" music.
As for me, whenever I need a smile back on my face, I turn to one genre in particular: Power ballads.
These are the songs that most everyone claims they don't listen to, but somehow, they mysteriously know every lyric when the song is played. These songs won't win any Grammys, but live on at sporting events ("Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey) and weddings ("Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard, "Faithfully" by Journey, etc.). They even live on in my ringtones ("Love of a Lifetime" by Firehouse for my wife, "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" by Journey for the two Journey fans in my life).
When I'm down, nothing beats the opening acoustic guitar licks that most power ballads had, perhaps best exemplified by "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" and "Love of A Lifetime." Any song that you can rock a falsetto and air guitar to is a plus in my book, no matter what the critics say.
Power ballads are best used on long road trips. The Seney Stretch got you down? Throw on some "November Rain" by Guns 'N Roses or pop in some "The Winds of Change" by The Scorpions and be transport yourself, mullet and all, to Madison Square Garden circa the early 1990s.
Plus, if you're looking to pass some time quickly, the length of power ballads works in your favor. A two-hour trip goes by pretty quickly when you only need 8-10 songs to pass the time.
So next time you're feeling down, just pop in some Styx or Firehouse, and you'll likely feel better in no time, as you implore anyone within a block radius to come sail away with you.
Zach Kukkonen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.