An important discussion about the perfect wedding playlist
Listen to episode 8 of FADER Explains.
Summer is wedding season! Those signature life-affirming celebrations are one of the best places you can hear the songs of the summer (and maybe fall in love yourself). On our podcast FADER Explains — where we're tracking the race for the title of Song of the Summer — we decided to sit down and talk about the musical moments that soundtrack these ceremonies of love.
In this episode, we're joined by Caroline Moss, the co-author of Hey Ladies! The Story of 8 Best Friends, 1 Year, and Way, Way Too Many Emails. We break down how the Song of the Summer factors into these special occasions and which songs belong on the "do not play" list.
Myles: For me, weddings are one of the events where we hear these songs of the summer and maybe at their most danceable, most joyful moment. Are there any songs this summer that really stick out to either of you of, "Oh, I can't wait to hear this when I'm at the function?"
Caroline: Yeah, that's so interesting because, I feel like one of the things that I'm focusing on so much in my own wedding is not doing a lot of songs that just came out. I'm sure we'll do “In My Feelings.” Well, I'm getting married in February, so who can say for sure? I think “In My Feelings” will be good, but I tend to want to do a lot of throwback hits. I think a rule that I heard someone say once, that has stuck with me is that, you kind of figure out the median age of your friends and then you play the playlist that would have played at your freshman year dance.
Olivia: Oh my God.
Caroline: So it's all the songs that everyone just remembers. The last time you were in a place dancing with a lot of people, these songs were on.
Olivia: So you run to the floor. And you'll be like, "We love this!"
Caroline: Yeah, everyone wants to hear Big Pimpin' at a 2018 wedding. That's my opinion, but I will say that recent songs of the summer, like of the last couple years, are actually making my blacklist.
Myles: Okay. Yeah, let's get into that. What are your blacklisted wedding songs?
Caroline: If the band plays "Shut Up and Dance With Me" …
Olivia: Oh my God. We were just talking about this song because our producer, Saxon, bartends at weddings, and he says it plays at every single one.
Caroline: Never. I will never ... Top of the list, I don't want to hear it. I hate that song. I think it's really annoying. I hated it when it came out, and I also hated it because it's one of those songs you listen to and you're like, "I'm going to have hear this at like 20 weddings this summer."
Caroline: It's the same with "Can't Stop the Feeling". I won't actually care if I hear "Can't Stop the Feeling", it's fine. But that's a song that's made for weddings.
Myles: That would definitely be on my blacklist. It just feels like forced joy every single time I hear it.
Caroline: The Trolls theme song.
Olivia: Most recent Timberlake, I think is off my playlist. I want to hear "Senorita."
Myles: What other songs are your must plays? What are you like, "I need to hear this song, this is going to be incredible?"
Caroline: I want to hear "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" like four times. I want to hear "Sorry" by Justin Bieber at least twice.
Caroline: I probably only want to hear those two songs for three hours.
Myles: That sounds great.
Caroline: It's my wedding.
Myles: That's a perfect playlist.
Caroline: I like old Mariah Carey, like "Emotions", "Fantasy", "Honey", all of it.
Myles: Hell yeah.
Caroline: Yeah, all of it. I think all the standards, I feel like the stuff that your parents want to hear. I want to hear Stevie Wonder. I want to hear Al Green, and then I actually kind of like the songs that were meant for weddings. I love "Shout". "Shout" is fun.
Olivia: That's super controversial.
Caroline: It is super controversial, but I like it.
Olivia: That is a good segue into this list of banned songs from weddings. The most banned songs from weddings. Number one, the "Chicken Dance".
Caroline: Yeah, who wants to hear the "Chicken Dance"?
Myles: That's embarrassing.
Caroline: That is embarrassing.
Olivia: I take offense that the "Electric Slide" is on here.
Myles: For sure.
Myles: I think that's low-key racist.
Olivia: I was going to say, "It's rude to black people." I've never been to a family function where there was dancing and they didn't play the "Electric Slide".
Caroline: Yeah, like every Christmas with your family there's the "Electric Slide".
Olivia: Yeah, if we're at a birthday or a wedding, it's like, "You gotta play the Electric Slide."
Caroline: I won't hate it, and people love it. People spend the first two verses of it being like, "Oh no, I can't," but by the end everyone's on the floor, everyone's doing it.
Olivia: Yeah, It's fun to watch people trying to learn how to do it. How to do the arm wind up and when to turn.
Caroline: It's a song a few drinks in. You want to get it when everyone's loose.
Myles: Yes, not early. Not early in the wedding.
Caroline: I will say that, "Shout" ... I'll defend my choice and say that DJ verses wedding band makes all the difference with these, sort of, wedding songs—
Caroline: With bands, you're paying them to read the room. If a wedding band plays"Shout", or "We are Family," I wouldn't hate it, but I wouldn't want to hear the song just coming from a DJ.
Myles: That definitely takes us to this big question for weddings, band versus DJ. I feel like they both have their strengths. For your wedding you're going DJ, right?
Caroline: I'm going band! It was the biggest priority I had. It was thing that was the most important to me. And when we sat down and talked about our wedding, something that I'd heard from a lot of my friends who've already gotten married were like, "Unless you're a like a millionaire and, like, the sky's the limit for every single aspect of your wedding, basically, pick the three things that are most important to you and then forget about everything else." So we kind of did that. The band is super important, because when I imagine that night I want everyone to be on the dance floor. I want the dance floor to be packed all night. I want that to be the big thing. And for a while I was waffling and I thought, "A band is so expensive. A DJ would be less money." I have gone to weddings where the DJ's been fantastic, but you are taking a risk that people won't respond to that and that would kill me. So I'm willing for that to be my choice.
Caroline: I like a band. I like a DJ, though. I'm the first person on the dance floor at any wedding. It's the best.
Olivia: I think it's so fun, because I also think it establishes you as the fun wedding guest. Which is a super priority for me is to be like, "That girl's fun."
Caroline: Yeah, totally.
Olivia: And you're making friends with old people and it's great.
Caroline: Like some uncle wants to dance with you.
Olivia: I'm like, "Sure, that's fine."
Caroline: I will say my mom and dad really instilled a kind of belief in me that, when we would go to family friend's weddings, my parents would always be on the dance floor. And there was one time I was not feeling it, and they were basically like, "You're at someone's wedding. You will dance. You will dance all night." I was like, "That's cool." I think that's cool. That's like a real understanding of why we're here, because who wants to be the ... You always know there's someone at the wedding slumped over in their chair, bored out their mind, and you're like, "I'm paying for you to be here."
Olivia: Yes, that's honestly rude. If you're going to be that person who's slumped in the chair, just Irish goodbye. Don't be a downer. Send a gift.
Caroline: We were at a friend's wedding once and one of our friend's boyfriends was like, "No, I don't dance." And it's like, "Dude ..."
Olivia: You're at a wedding.
Caroline: You're at a wedding, and also, we're 30 ...
Myles: Leave him
Caroline: ... Not 14, and we're like, "You're not feeling awkward?" He's like, "No, I couldn't." And it's like, "You look worse sitting at a table."
Olivia: Just take one drink and just loosen your body up.
Caroline: Right. I want to say that I will be having too much fun to really notice who's on the dance floor and who's not, but I know I will.
Myles: Were there any conversations you had with your fiance about his do not play songs verses must haves?
Caroline: Sure, we're totally on the same page, which, I think actually makes it really easy. We agree, no Classic rock. I don't want to hear Bon Jovi, I don't want to hear Journey.
Olivia: My God, I'm looking at the FiveThirtyEight list right now, and at the bottom of it is "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC. Kill me.
Caroline: Absolutely not.
Myles: I would cry my eyes out.
Caroline: No one wants to hear that.
Olivia: I would run to the bathroom and start sobbing and everyone would be like, "Oh my god, what's wrong?" Classic rock is what's wrong.
Caroline: Exactly, with everything. And I get that I'm taking a real risk by being like, "We have to play 'Pony.'" And 70 percent of my wedding guest being extremely white and Irish, but we're going to do it and we're going to see what happens. I'm not listening to AC/DC. I'm not listening to "Don't Stop Believing".
Caroline: How do you guys feel about "Single Ladies"?
Myles: I think it's corny, but any Beyonce is fine.That's just a rule for any event in life.
Olivia: I just have a list, like 20 songs deep of other Beyonce songs I'd want to hear. I think that is a song for the older people who are like, "I know how to the wrist thing."
Caroline: Yeah, I love Beyonce. Okay.
Caroline: I agree. And I also don't want to hear "Crazy in Love" and I know that might be controversial.
Myles: Oh, I feel the opposite.
Caroline: I feel like I've listened to it too much and it's never left my environment.
Olivia: I think my top Beyonce wedding song pick would be "Love on Top".
Caroline: Yes. Totally. That's great.
Olivia: I think that's thematic, it's fun, everyone gets into the key changes, we're having a great time …
Caroline: Everyone loves "Love on Top". That's a really good ... I'm making a mental note right now.
Myles: For me, if I had a band I would really want "Crazy in Love", if I had horns. The horns are so iconic. And when she plays it live, it's always kind of a surprise in her set and everyone immediately is like, "Oh, it's time for me to lose my brain," which is really beautiful.
Caroline: That's actually a good point because horns was a thing that my fiance really wanted. And I was like, "We don't need that many horns." We now have that many horns. So now that you've said that, I'm going to go look at horn heavy songs and get my money's worth.
Myles: You need "One Thing" by Amerie.
Caroline: Oh yeah.
Olivia: Another rude thing is that "Dancing Queen" by ABBA is on this list.
Myles: That's homophobic. Sorry, but it is.
Olivia: It is.
Caroline: It is homophobic.
Myles: I want at least three ABBA songs played at my wedding, sorry.
Olivia: I was once at a wedding where the dance floor wasn't really popping, and I ... Me and my friend went up to the DJ and we were like, "Can you play some ABBA?" He was like, "Yeah, sure. You guys are the only people dancing. Whatever." And we played "Dancing Queen" and it turned the party up. It was crazy.
Myles: Did it turn the party?
Caroline: Wow, that DJ really did not show up to do his job. See, that's my fear.
Olivia: I think the party generally was whatever, and then you get two drunk 20 year olds on the dance floor, dancing to ABBA and suddenly it's a great time.
Caroline: There you go.
Myles: Everyone wants to be there.
Olivia: Everyone wants to join in.
Caroline: I feel like "Call Me Maybe" is a great song that will get people to dance more.
Olivia: Yeah, that's another good, "This was the song of the summer and so now we're going to hear it at every wedding for the rest of our life."
Caroline: I'm okay with that.
Olivia: Yes, me too.
Caroline: I'm okay with that. I'm okay with ... I'm trying to think of what else. I would want to hear "Despacito" at my wedding.
Olivia: I'm predicting getting married in, let's say, 10 years and I feel like by that point in 2028 "Despacito" will have come back around. It'll sound so good and everyone will be like, "Whoa, remember 2017," and I'll be like, "Yeah."
Caroline: Can I ask a controversial question?
Olivia: Of course.
Myles: I would love that.
Caroline: I feel like, even at the weddings of my wokest friends, I'm still hearing "Ignition Remix".
Myles: Well, I think that would definitely be on my blacklist just …
Caroline: I know, same. Because it has to be.
Myles: Yeah, all R. Kelly.
Caroline: I still feel like people are not willing to give that up.
Olivia: No, people really still play it out and about. And worst, people still sing along to it.
Myles: It's really creepy.
Olivia: It's like, "Guys, we're not molesters."
Myles: No, I think at my wedding I don't want that energy in my environment. That's banned. I think we can all agree.
Olivia: Yeah. This is just a blanket statement to anyone getting married, or just anyone, stop playing that song.
Caroline: Yeah, no R. Kelly.
Olivia: We're not doing that anymore.
Caroline: It was weird, I heard it at a wedding and your initial reaction is to enjoy it and then you can't …
Olivia: And then you have to sit and then you have to think about R. Kelly and it's like …
Caroline: It makes you feel a little sick. Yeah, I don't know. It's weird that it still gets played. I don't know, when we sent out a save the date, we asked people to put down the song that would get them on the dance floor …
Olivia: Oh, that's cute.
Caroline: ... And most of our friends sent back a joke, like a song we would never play. But, all of our parents's friends sent back Motown. Every one of them wrote Motown.
Caroline: It is great.
Olivia: Motown is perfect wedding music.