The political blogger Andrew Sullivan has the obnoxious practice of running reader emails without naming the person. I can only assume his motivation is to hog as much of the spotlight as possible, yet still allow other people to shoulder some of his workload. I enjoy reading Sullivan, but he strikes me as a person who always has to be the prettiest brain in the room.
One of his wrongfully uncredited readers just submitted the perfect explanation for the popularity of the Pet Shop Boys:
I'm male, straight, and 38. I first heard the Pet Shop Boys in high school and dismissed it as yet more soulless, computerized Brit-Pop. Then one night in a club I heard their version of U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name." I thought, "Listen to this crap. They take this well-made, passionate song and drain it of all feeling. Oh wait. That's brilliant. They're geniuses."
There ought to be a name for the principle the reader has identified here, which is the possibility for something to be so terrible that it circles around and achieves brilliance.
I experimented with the Pet Shop Boys in college (I was young; it was the '80s; I don't have to apologize for it). I nearly bought their 1986 debut album Please recently on iTunes to replace the cassette version I once owned, but the money went instead to the smooth jazz stylings of the Vince Guaraldi Trio.