Thursday, September 16, 2010

What To Play (and Not to Play) at a Wedding Reception - Part 2

Ambient DJs' Director of Musical Programming, Mike Bacon, aka DJ Iron Mike, submits part Part 2 of his What to Play (and not Play) at wedding receptions. As usual, Mike's article is insightful and thought-provoking. Mike adds the caveat that his opinions are not the final world. Please feel free to comment on our blog with songs of your own!

"Reasons"- Earth, Wind & Fire

GASP!!! Can you believe it? I'm calling out one of my all-time favorite groups for an all time classic song. This joint as anybody who saw me during my 2002 karaoke singing phase know that this is my ace in the hole at any bar or restaurant, just ask Rockin' Ron… he gave he the moniker "Soul Man" Iron Mike for my singing exploits. But back to the track, even lead singer of the group Phillip Bailey will tell you (as seen in EWF's Sony released DVD), Reasons is NOT a wedding song. Phil went on to say that he was surprised at the amount of fans that told him about getting married to the song. This joint is about the confusion that arrives during and after a one night stand. The lyrics include "the reasons we're a LIE" "all our illusions we're just a parade" and "after the love game has been played." Far from what one should want to hear during their first dance. Overall, it really comes down to the vibe. "Reasons" is sung with such emotion and passion that the lyrics get overlooked and misconstrued. Also, stay away from 1979's "After the Love is Gone"…even though that title should be a dead giveaway!
What to play instead: Of course, Earth Wind & Fire are best known for their funk/disco material (September, Let's Groove, Shining Star) but in the way of Slow ballads comes Straight off of my favorite EWF LP (1977's All N' All) "Love's Holiday" . This one probably won't go over as well at a Caucasian wedding, but sure to please the African-American crowd. I'm also strong on "Love Ballad" by LTD. Also, an artist who has performed with EWF, Denice Williams' "Cause You Love Me" is good for cocktail hour.

"I Will Survive"- Gloria Gaynor

Maybe I'm getting a little harsh. After all, not ALL wedding dance songs have to be about love. For example (Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean", The Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men") and a host of other dance floor fillers have nothing to do with the subject. My beef with this classic disco smash is it's strictly a break up song, on the real… it's probably the top feminine breakup anthem. Not only that, I've heard DJs close out a wedding with this one. Yeah, it pumps up the ladies, but not the best note to go out on. Basically, as DJ Jagged would say (but not in reference to this song) "Proceed with caution." Some couples might bypass the message and want you to play it. I say do it, but like The Pina Colada Song… I wouldn't' play it on my own.

What to Play Instead: Since "Last Dance" by Donna Summer is tired and overused, how about Diana Ross' "Love Hangover"? It starts out slow, but then picks up with a huge disco climax. I think even "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Thelma Houston is a good closer. The song title is a little misleading; I think that track has more to do about desire to continue a relationship, not to end one.

"I Would Do Anything for Love"- Meatloaf

…But You won't do what exactly Mr.Loaf ??? This song confused me when I was in the 7th grade and it confuses me to this day. I'm starting a new rule! If you're first dance has confusing lyrics, your marriage will be that much more confusing! I'll also include some personal bias… I hate this song. It sucks. It's in my top 5 least favorite pop songs ever. Enough said about that. (Editor's Note: Mike also despises the Village People!).

What to play instead: ANYTHING. But, if you're into that over the top cheesy, whisk you away to a medieval castle, rock opera effect and not coincidently written by Meatloaf buddy Jim Steinman Sound, go with "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler. As an added bonus, your guests can re-enact the wedding scene in Old School where the band's lead singer inserts an F-Bomb every now and then. Fun for the whole family!!! The Latter actually happens! I've strayed away from playing this since the original writing of my blog.

Be sure to add any possible wedding reception song traps!!! They're out there... Spotting them can help you or I prosper in the future!

To benefit from the musical insights of DJ Iron Mike, contact Ambient DJ today to book him for your next wedding or soiree! Ambient DJ Service (,, 609.672.1270).

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