The other day, I was asked by one of my brides-to-be what my favorite song to play at a party was. I replied without hesitation: “Easy. Montell Jordan’s ‘This Is How We Do It’. In fact, the day that song gets no response, I’m hanging up my headphones.
While driving home on I-5 Friday night, I started to expand upon the question: “If I was to make a Top Ten list of my favorite party songs to play at weddings and other events I DJ, what would be the other nine songs?” After spending much of the weekend debating, I finally narrowed my list down to my ten favorite party songs to play at weddings and other parties I DJ at. My only requirement? I had to love – and regularly play – the original version, not a remixed version.
Take a listen to my picks, and then let me know what your picks are in the comment section below.
1) Montell Jordan – “This Is How We Do It”
Since I already told you what my number one pick is – leaving little purpose, and suspense, for counting down my list – I’m going to count up my list. Despite being twenty years old, this song never gets old for me. If I am still DJing weddings at 50, I’ll still be dropping this classic, feel-good R&B jam.
2) Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Sweet Home Alabama”
There was a reason I picked this song as the first song on my One of Those Nights, Volume One mix. It’s the southern rock equivalent of “This Is How We Do It“. Well, to me at least.
3) Neil Diamond – “Sweet Caroline”
If you were to ask me what my favorite song of all-time is, it would be this one. As a party song, I placed it at number three; mainly because I need to mix a beat underneath the song until I get to the hook that everybody knows and loves.
4) Tag Team – “Whoomp, There It Is”
“Here’s a shovel, can you dig it, fool?” This song is about getting hype at a party. What more do you need?!?!
5) Big & Rich – “Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)”
As an open format DJ, I’m always testing the boundaries of which genres I can include in the mix. If I have an inkling that my crowd may get down to a little bit of country, this is the song I’m going to test that boundary with. And before I mix out of this song, I have to include the Big Kenny rap, which I can recite word-for-word.
6) Run-D.M.C. – “It’s Tricky”
Run-D.M.C. were doing mashups before mashups were cool. And this is a perfect “bridge” song when mixing between the hip-hop and rock genres.
7) Notorious B.I.G. – “Hypnotize”
Right from the start, this song hooks you; plus it samples Herb Alpert’s “Rise”, which is a dope jazz tune you should definitely listen to. (I have it on vinyl.) One of the few party songs I’ll just drop in from out of nowhere – no mixing required – when my crowd least expects it.
8) Nelly – “Ride Wit Me”
There are four hip-hop songs from the 2000s that my dad knows: Yung Joc’s “It’s Goin’ Down”, Lil’ Jon’s “Snap Yo Fingaz”, Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me”, and this one by Nelly. Yes, even my dad sings out loud “Must be the MONEY!“. That’s just plain awesome sauce, right there.
9) DJ Snake – “Turn Down For What”
Most Top 40 songs become stale for me after a while, and I play them because I have to, not because I want to. Not this one. I still love to play it, and I still love to set a party off with it.
10) Stevie Wonder – “Superstition”
This has always been one of my favorite songs, and thanks to Bud Light using Stevie’s jam for their “it’s only weird if it doesn’t work” NFL commercials, I can reliably trust it as a sure-fire party starter song.
Settling on just ten songs was hard, and these fifteen also could have made the cut, but fell short for one reason or another. No particular order here, except for the last one.
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” – Like “Sweet Caroline”, this song needs a beat behind it. Great sing-a-long song that brings everyone together.
Lil’ Jon & The East Side Boyz – “Get Low” – Probably the defining song of my generation’s high school and junior high years, a.k.a. the crunk years.
Michael Jackson – “Bad” – “Billie Jean”, “Beat It”, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” are the obvious choices. “Bad” has a great beat and is often overlooked by DJs.
Mark Morrison – “Return of the Mack” – another one of those feel-good, timeless 90s R&B tracks.
Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg – “The Next Episode” – Easily my favorite West Coast party song, of all-time.
James Brown – “Get Up Offa That Thing” – Thanks to “Uptown Funk” I’ve gotten a lot of play out of this jam lately. But it’s been a re-drummed version, so I couldn’t include it on my top ten list. It’s a very worthy honorable mention, however.
Human League – “Don’t You Want Me” – If I have a dance floor that really likes 80s songs, I’m dropping this one into my mix. If not, I may drop into the bridge and mix out on the hook, just for fun and personal satisfaction.
Technotronic – “Pump Up The Jam” – I’m not a huge House and/or Dance music fan – unless I’ve had a few adult beverages – but I can always get down to this one.
THREE-WAY TIE: R. Kelly – “Bump N Grind”, Ginuwine – “Pony”, Next – “Too Close” – see what I did there?
Paul Simon – “You Can Call Me Al” – Personally, I love this song. Problem is: most of my generation has never heard of it. So, I have to creatively sneak it in to my mix.
Chic – “Good Times” – Nile Rodgers is a beast on the guitar, and a legendary producer. Just check his resume. In my opinion, one of the greatest to ever touch a guitar (with Angus Young of AC/DC being my top pick, and that’s only because I’ve seen him live before and it was unreal.)
A-ha – “Take On Me” – This song is infectious. Hit the high note!
Luther Vandross – “Never Too Much” – Luther is smooth. By now, I think you can tell I really like R&B music.
Harry Belafonte – “Jump In The Line (Shake Señora)” – You may remember this 1960s song from the movie Beetlejuice. I have found an uptempo remix that I’ll use – the original just doesn’t do it for me – and lately, I’ve been following it up with Pitbull’s “Fireball” for a combination that generations of both old and new have responded well to.
TIE: Backstreet Boys – “Everybody” & NSYNC – “Tearin’ Up My Heart” – The number one lesson all newbie DJs need to learn: Play for The Ladies.
This post was originally published on August 31, 2015 at www.TonySchwartzBlog.com
Filed Under: Music, Weddings
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