Just the Right Song – By Mike “Dr. Frankenstand” Ryan

October 28, 2012 by Mike Ryan


It’s fair to say that most of our clients can’t appreciate the variety of skills mobile DJs have to have to perform at a high level. Music programming is an obvious requirement, but what most people don’t think about is whether or not their DJ will be able to adjust to anything, knowing how to cue up just the right song to make an unexpected moment into something special—or to smooth over a problem or ease a transition with an appropriate tune.

For instance, at corporate award banquets we should always be ready to fill “dead air” when a guests is called up to receive their award. Without some kind of music in the background the moment feels uncomfortable for everyone. I always have some fun music in the background. For example, someone slowly walking up should be hit with the Jeopardy TV theme song. Or an elegant lady sashaying up might call for the Miss America pageant theme song.

I was prompted to share this article when it occurred to me that nearly one sixth of my song library consists of specialty songs and sound effects. I accumulated most of it while playing music for a local team building company.

The following compilation of songs and their uses doesn’t include the obvious, like holiday songs for Halloween, Christmas, Fourth of July, Easter etc., but rather songs that you wouldn’t ordinarily think of having.

It never hurts to have some songs in your arsenal that you can whip out at a moment’s notice to provide the perfect soundtrack to what’s going on. Example: Last Labor Day I was DJing a car show at the San Diego Stadium parking lot when a couple of “exotic” dancers on hand to entertainer hot rodders wanted to perform a fire dance (unusual for a daytime, outdoor event, but what the hey). Fortunately, for some unknown reason I have a collection of fire themed songs, and they really came in handy:

“Fire” – Ohio Players
“Fire” – Pointer Sisters
“Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash
“Light My Fire” – the Doors, Jose Feliciano

Last summer was an especially hot one in Southern California, as well as the rest of the nation. You can beat the anticipated request for a song about heat with some of the following:

“Hot In Herre” – Nelly
“The Heat Is On” – Glenn Frey
“Hot Sh**” – Country Grammar
“Hot Summer” – Donna Summer
“Hot Child in the City” – Nick Gilder

At fund raising events, if you are prepared and have appropriate songs for the event, it helps you stand out from DJs who just play current hits. Playing off of the idea that people who donate are becoming friends of the organization…

“You’ve Got a Friend” – James Taylor
“Friends in Low Places” – Garth Brooks
“Waiting on a Friend” – The Rolling Stones
“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” – Randy Newman
“That’s What Friends Are For” – Dionne Warwick
“With a Little Help From My Friends – The Beatles, Joe Cocker

Because of our wonderful, mild San Diego weather, there are always run/walk events every weekend and lots of fun songs to play:

“Run for Your Life” – The Beatles
“Long May You Run” – Neil Young
“Walk 500 Miles” – The Proclaimers
“Walk Like an Egyptian” – The Bangles
“Walk This Way” – Aerosmith, Run DMC
“Against the Wind” – Bob Seger

Most of those running/walking events happen in the morning, and I’m sure you’ll have the opportunity to do morning events as well, at some point, so make sure to have morning songs – especially when vendors are setting up for trade event:

“Beautiful Day” – U2
“Here Comes the Sun” – The Beatles
“Morning Has Broken” – Cat Stephens
“A Beautiful Morning” – The Rascals
“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” – Wham
“Good Morning, Good Morning” – The Beatles
“Walking on Sunshine” – Katrina and the Waves

My brother recently did a gig for the SPCA—can you say “Who Let the Dogs Out?” Animals sound effects are great with kids, as well as the many animal songs. Here’s a small sample:

“Hound Dog” – Elvis
“Stray Cat Strut” – Stray Cats
“Who Let the Dogs Out” – Baha Men
“Walking the Dog” – The Rolling Stones

Casino night parties with portable gambling games are very popular these days and lend themselves to a great number of songs:

“Viva Las Vegas” – Elvis
“The Gambler” – Kenny Rogers
Casino Royal (James Bond-007) movie theme
“Rambling Gambling Man” – Bob Seger
“I’m Winning” – Steve Winwood

When it comes to sports music –there’s a huge variety of sports-themed songs:

“Blitzkrieg Bop” – Ramones
“We Will Rock You” – Queen
“Hey, Ho Let’s Go” – Ramones
“Born to Be Wild” – Steppenwolf
“Pump Up the Volume” – M/A/R/R/S
“Rock and Roll, Part 2” – Gary Glitter
“Wild Thing” – The Troggs, Tone Loc
“Let’s Get It Started” – Black Eyed Peas

School songs—used sparingly—can reinforce the school theme (parents and school administrators like many of them them):
“School’s Out” – Alice Cooper
“Be True to Your School” – The Beach Boys
“Rock and Roll High School” – The Ramones
“School of Rock” – Jack Black (School of Rock movie theme)

Military songs are especially relevant in places like San Diego (a Navy town) but can be appropriate for someone retiring from the service or at a gig at a VFW hall:

Army: “The Caisson Song”
Marine Corps: “The Halls of Montezuma”
Air Force: “The U.S. Air Force Song” (Off We Go…)
Coast Guard: “Semper Paratus” (Always Ready)
Navy: “Anchors Aweigh,” “In the Navy” – Village People, Top Gun movie theme

Songs that build excitement can be used in a variety of events:

“Popcorn” – Hot Butter
“Lust For Life” – Iggy Pop
“Green Onion” – Booker T. & The MG’s
“Axel F.” – Harold Faltermeyer (Beverly Hills Cop movie theme)

If team building events ever make a comeback, you can be ready with motivational songs. These songs also are great for run/walk events to motivate participants:

“Don’t Stop Believing’” – Journey
“I Won’t Back Down” – Tom Petty
“Simply the Best” – Tina Turner
“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us” – Starship
“Eye of the Tiger” – (Rocky movie theme)
“You’re the Best” – Joe Esposito (Karate Kid movie theme)

Other songs for corporate / business events include:

“All Star” – Smash Mouth
“I’m Number One” – Nelly
“Let’s Work Together” – Canned Heat
“Shinning Star” – Earth, Wind And Fire
“Working for the Weekend” – Loverboy
“It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere” – Alan Jackson, Jimmy Buffet
“Takin’ Care of Business” – Bachman Turner Overdrive (BTO)

These are just a few of the unique songs that I have ready to impress. When appropriate, I’ve also included a few wacky songs from the funny world of Weird Al Yanovic and Dr. Demento, along with well known voice tracks from movies, etc. Being armed with at least some of these of songs can go a long way to help you to exceed your customer’s expectations, and maybe garner some repeat business.

Mike Ryan Mike Ryan (24 Posts)

Mike Ryan spins at the Corvette Diner in San Diego. He also invented the Air-Powered speaker stand the FRANKENSTAND. He is a 20-year veteran of radio, and served on ADJA and NACE boards.

Filed Under: 2012, Exclusive Online News and Content, Frankenstand, Playlists, Songs & Music Charts