By: AM Taylor
As a man, it is my task to make weddings out to be horrendous occasions where you wear a suit that makes you sweat and link elbows down the aisle with your close friend’s wife’s former hairdresser. Let’s face it, the ceremony is for the ladies. Where does that leave the guys on the most important of days? Usually by the snack table (yes) or the open bar (double yes.). Unfortunately, not every reception provides the cure for the common anxiety attack. I’m talking about alcohol. Booze. Grampa’s old happy juice. Typically, a dry wedding is also an awkward one, but there is one thing that 95 percent (made up figure) of the good people of earth love to do -Dance. Here are a few party-starters that will break the ice at a bad wedding (or great one for that matter.)
ATTENTION: These diddys are in chronological order.
“Twist and Shout”-The Beatles Please Please Me 1963
The Isley Brothers made it known and The Beatles made it legendary. Four Liverpudlians made the black rock n’ roll standard their very own. Add on the classic parade scene from “Ferris Bueller’s Day” off and this is a bonafied opportunity to make a fool out of yourself.
“You’re the One That I Want”-Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta Grease 1978
Every mom was once a teenage girl. In ’78, every girl had a crush on Danny Zucco. “Grease” to this day is one of the few musicals that has something for everyone of any age. Guys: This is a chance to show the girl you are hitting on that you can have fun with anyone and be the life of the party.
“Another One Bites the Dust”-Queen The Game 1980
Who is John Deacon? Unless you own more than one Queen album (Compilations do not count) there is a good chance this name is unfamiliar. His composition is one of the first lines a bass player picks up (Cough). Freddy Mercury’s theatrical vocal lilting causes the best body swerves on the dance floor possible.
“Any Way You Want It”-Journey Departure 1980
Steve Perry is such a great singer that he can have a duet with an electric guitar. Taking a cue from Irish rockers Thin Lizzy, this driving explosion of a song will make everyone sweat, but they will love every minute of it. Much like the rest of Journey’s catalog, it is over the top and impossible to sing, but entirely nostalgic.
“You Make My Dreams”-Daryl Hall & John Oates Voices 1981
There is a reason this song has been used in multiple romantic comedies such as “The Wedding Singer” and “500 Days of Summer”. From the opening “bassy” keyboard to the snappy snare, nothing makes love more fun than this Rock n’ Soul diddy. If you are looking for a bridesmaids/groomsmen synchronized dance number to get everyone in on the party, look no further.
“Africa”-Toto Toto IV 1982
The Eighties were a magical time. It was perfectly acceptable for a group comprised of very White session musicians to write a song about the entire continent of Africa. This was a sleeper song for many years, but tribal drums and cheesy synthesizers never go out of style. I suggest this as a party wind down song. It always sends ‘em home happy.
“Billie Jean”-Michael Jackson Thriller 1982
It’s Michael. Need I say more?
“Bye Bye Bye”-‘N Sync No Strings Attached 2000
When Pop and Hip-Hop collided in the late 90’s it created a whole new type of artist: The Boy Band. We know all the lyrics by heart and have four friends that take their turns being Justin, JC, or…well, on second thought, just those two. Plus, the hand puppet jumping dance is just plain fun to do.
“Sexy Back”-Justin Timberlake FutureSex/LoveSounds 2006
We all knew that JT was the heart and soul of ‘N Sync, but it wasn’t until the second track on his second solo album that we realized that he was on par with Prince and Michael. His working relationship with producer Timbaland a.k.a. “The guy who says yeah” brought out a dangerous side that turned the heads of musical elitists.
“Happy”-Pharrell Williams G I R L 2014
No reception playlist should be complete without the biggest dance song of the minute. Nearly every smash single that has come out in the last five years has Pharrell’s fingerprints on it. His production credits read like a greatest hits collection of the 2010’s. Now that he is getting his shot at being his own artist, the watchful eyes of the critical quorum will be on this wunderkind at the beginning of his fertile career.