There are a lot of people who are into technology and have calendared the launch date of the new Iphone. People that can tell you about cars and all of the pros and cons of purchasing each model. People that know about literature, and have a million books, and know which ones are being adapted into screenplays. People that know the history of the British Royal Family and who all the important political figures are in all of the countries all over the world. I don’t know about these things, but if we’re playing Trivial Pursuit, and the topic is music, you better hope I’m on your team. I love music! All kinds too. I know as much about Hip Hop as I do about Rock and Roll, and most things in between. If I don’t know I’m curious to find out. I’m a sponge! The question that comes up with family and friends is ‘can I get paid for such proficient use of that part of my brain?’ The answer would be ‘not to this point’. If you don’t care about music, and we are in a ‘musical situation’ together, then I am annoying. If you love music, and we are in a ‘musical situation’ together, then I am awesome, and so are you!
What’s a ‘musical situation’ you ask??? For me it’s every waking moment, but for most people it would be a concert, car ride, grocery store (they always have adult contemporary or 80s music playing….it’s the only reason I go), cleaning the home, and the most obvious ones which are going out to a bar/night club or for those that don’t go to those places, there’s a type of bar/night club that everyone goes to which I like to call a ‘wedding reception’. Yes, once all the awkward speeches and kissing games are done, and the food is eaten, there is only one man who can bring home a good wedding, and that’s your wedding DJ.
In second place behind top 40 radio, the wedding DJ is the lowest common denominator of ‘musical situations’. I don’t want to paint them all with the same brush, but time after time, wedding after wedding, they encourage me to paint them with the same brush. They do this by having the same mediocre playlist of ‘safe’, reception appropriate, multi generation compatible music that every other wedding DJ has. As a real music fan this sickens me. It’s not because I think a wedding is the time for a DJ to pull out all the tricks and start ‘digging through the crates’ so to speak. You do have an audience that has a huge range in age, so you kind of have to play to everybody, which can be a tricky proposition. So what they’ve done over the years is found songs that work in those situations, and created a formula for success. In any business, this makes perfect sense. Being a wedding DJ definitely makes you a business person, but being a DJ SHOULD also make you an artist. Art and business typically don’t mix very well, and only in the rarest of circumstances can an artist stay true to his/her art, and still make money. The compromised product is often what works best.
While I’m understanding of their limitations and expectations, I would still like to see wedding DJs to take some chances. Play some stuff that I didn’t hear a week ago at the last wedding I was at. You’ll know if you’ve taken it too far, and you can always bring it back to what works, but there are thousands of songs out there that can work in these situations, yet I seem to only hear the same 30 or 40 over and over again. As someone who loves music as much as I do, the repetition hurts my soul.
My wedding DJ did a pretty good job. He came over to my condo and allowed me to lecture him on music for 4 hours (I’d gone to high school with him, so we caught up a bit too). He was very patient with me. He nodded like he was listening, and when my wedding day came, while I’m not sure he remembered everything I told him, he held his own up there, and kept the party going without really offending me in any way with his selections. One of the things he did do, which I thought was pretty awesome, was asked me to make a list of 20 songs I had to hear, and 20 more for him to not play under any circumstances. Now, I can’t remember if he played all 20 of the songs I wanted to hear or not, but he definitely didn’t play the ones that I didn’t want to hear, and that was even more important in a way. I just didn’t want to hear the same generic songs that I hear at all the other weddings, so those made my list.
For your consideration, here are the 20 songs that I hate (but always end up) hearing at wedding receptions. Some comments are included. This is not necessarily in order of hatred, but rather which ones jumped into my head first.
1. Celebration by Kool & The Gang ( I get it….. we’re celebrating……I love Kool & The Gang too. How about ‘Get Down On It’ or ‘Jungle Boogie’)
2. Holiday by Madonna (Madonna has 30 years of danceable hits….Why this one every time?)
3. Dancing Queen by Abba (Same comment as above but only 10 years)
4. Macarena by Los Del Rio (You will only hear this at weddings now…. hate songs with dances made up for them…. hate any form of line dancing)
5. Chicken Dance by Werner Thomas (Same comment as above)
6. Who Let the Dogs Out? by The Baha Men (They used to play the original version of this song at the clubs, and we liked it ok, but when the Baha Men re-did it, it became #3 on Rolling Stone Magazine “Most Annoying Songs Ever” poll. So if you’re a wedding DJ, and this information is available to you, why would you keep playing it??? It’s horrible!!!! You’re horrible!!!! Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!)
7. Love Train by The O’ Jays (I actually love this song, but people tend to start a conga line when it comes on, and then they want to come around to every table, and there’s always some drunk member of the fun police that wants to get you up out of your seat to join the stupidity. Fuck off and let me enjoy my beer and my social awkwardness!)
8. Conga by Miami Sound Machine (Same comment as above)
9. Mambo #5 by Lou Bega (I want to stab myself with my dessert fork every time I hear this )
10. Swing the Mood by Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers (This is a lazy-ass DJ way to play a bunch of swing songs all at the same time in hopes that some of the older people will feel like he ‘played to them’, but if your DJ was a master mixer himself, then he wouldn’t need to resort to this bullshit.)
11. Follow Me by Aly Us (As far as classic house goes, this is a great song, but at a Filpino wedding, everyone on the dance floor starts doing the ‘bus stop’, and if you don’t know that dance, or don’t feel like line dancing, it’s a good time to grab a drink.)
12. YMCA by The Village People (Wedding DJs get off easy, b/c they play to the drunkest of crowds. Who would tolerate this song if sober?)
13. TIE – Anything from the Grease Soundtrack (This just sucks the life out of me)
14. Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough by Michael Jackson (I’ll take some Michael at a wedding, but not this one anymore)
15. Single Ladies by Beyonce (I wonder if it’s bouquet toss time? I don’t really see any way of avoiding this one though)
16. We Are Family by Sister Sledge (You can celebrate with your family without this cue, thanks)
17. Le Freak by Chic (It sounds like I’m picking on Disco here, and I’m not really. I’m merely picking on the lack of originality by wedding DJs. A lot of these songs would be better if I didn’t hear them all the time. I probably prefer this stuff to current pop music like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, but a lot of these Disco songs have been getting played out for the last 35 years. If they are playing Lady Gaga at weddings 35 years from now, I’ll make a new list)
18. Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler (I figured I’d include a few of the slow songs that drive me nuts. This one is almost always the father/daughter dance. I don’t want to sound un-sentimental (if that’s a word), but I can’t take any more of this song.)
19. TIE Anything by Shania Twain or Celine Dion (As a proud Canadian it disappoints me to do this, but no more please)
20. Baby Got Back by Sir-Mix-A-Lot (Oh my god Becky, look at her butt)
Maybe I’ve missed some!! Do you have a played out wedding reception song that makes you shoot poisonous glare darts toward an unsuspecting, ‘mailing it in’ Wedding DJ??? I’d love to hear them!