Monday, July 12, 2010

White wedding

Update! See this list assailed mercifully, with my defense thereof!

The way I see it, wedding playlist songs for white people fall into 10 categories.

1) The bride-and-groom (bride-and-bride, etc.) song. Obviously this is specifically chosen for the first dance and whatever it is is fine. Warning: see section (9) below.

2) The undisputed must-have classics.
I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor
Respect, Aretha Franklin
Walking on Broken Glass, Annie Lennox (IMO this has graduated from category 3)
You Never Can Tell, Chuck Berry (note special inclusion for weddings)
Like a Prayer, Madonna
Brown-Eyed Girl, Van Morrison
Don't Stop Believing, Journey

3) The judiciously chosen FM standbys. As when selecting a wedding gift, selecting a wedding playlist is not the time to be a hero. All you can do here is carefully select the best among several plausible options per artist.
All Day and All of the Night, The Kinks
Wouldn't It Be Nice, The Beach Boys
Help!, The Beatles
Rocks Off, The Rolling Stones
Only the Good Die Young, Billy Joel
Modern Love, David Bowie
I'm Gonna Love You Too, Blondie
Teach Your Children, CSNY
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Cyndi Lauper
Bad, Michael Jackson
Raspberry Beret, Prince
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, Paul Simon
Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, The Police
And She Was, Talking Heads

4) The expired radio hit. Like their target audience, these tracks have lately emerged out of awkward adolescence into what now appear to be long, prosperous adulthoods, almost without anyone really noticing. Ushering these songs closer to the canon, one reception at a time, is perhaps the most precious duty of the wedding DJ.
Breakfast at Tiffany's, Deep Blue Something
The Sign, Ace of Base
Baby One More Time, Britney Spears
The Impression that I Get, Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Stacy's Mom, Fountains of Wayne
She's a Rebel, Green Day
Semi-Charmed Life, Third Eye Blind
Oi to the World, No Doubt
Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of...), Lou Bega
Livin' La Vida Loca, Ricky Martin
If I Had $1000000, Barenaked Ladies
Angel, Shaggy
Hey Ya, Outkast
Buddy Holly, Weezer
What's Up, 4 Non Blondes

5) The slow songs. Approximately one-fifth of the total. Mandatory. I cannot help you much on this one.

6) The R&B/hip-hop/last few years songs. Mandatory. Ditto.

7) The generational twofers. Wedding DJs who pride themselves on cultural literacy look for songs that were once granted second life by being featured in a movie more than a decade after their release.
Son of a Preacher Man, Dusty Springfield
Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters, Elton John
I Love to Boogie, T.Rex
It's Raining Men, The Weather Girls
Video Killed the Radio Star, The Buggles
I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles), The Proclaimers
Mickey, Toni Basil
Blister in the Sun, Violent Femmes
Get Rhythm, Johnny Cash

8) The long-tail tidbits. This is exactly as edgy as weddings are allowed to get. Appropriate only when at least a dozen people present meet a particular, relatively narrow demographic. Easy to mishandle. Optional. To illustrate, I'll name a few that might work in my own demographics but could be disastrous in the wrong room.
American Pie, Don McLean
Cheeseburger in Paradise, Jimmy Buffett
Barrel of a Gun, Guster
Closer to Fine, the Indigo Girls
Magic Dance, David Bowie (OK, this will never be disastrous)
Polyester Bride, Liz Phair
Turning Japanese, The Vapors

9) The custom selection. Other than the song in section (1), at most three songs may be played as in-jokes among friends or family of the bride and groom. Definitely optional. Smash them together and make it quick.

10) The closer. Not the final crowd-pleaser (you'll need one of those, too) but the final slow song that signals that people really have to wrap it up before the lights come on.
The Wind, Cat Stevens
Let it Be, The Beatles
Still Crazy After All These Years, Paul Simon
You've Got a Friend, Carole King
Stand By Me, Ben E. King
I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston

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