dance songs for weddings

Canon in D-Johann Pachelbel

In any discussion of music for a wedding processional, we’d have to start here. Being a “Classical Musician” I have long been aware of the composer Johann Pachelbel and his most famous piece, “Canon in D.” However his name has become synonymous with wedding ceremonies. What makes it so perfect is the slow, regal pace and the majestic simplicity of the principle thematic line. It doesn’t hurt that it’s been used in several movies including the heartbreaking Robert Redford directed “Ordinary People.” Since then, the piece has become as famous as most ‘Pop’ tunes.Then it was used in several high profile TV commercial including  “G.E. Lightbulbs” and Jaguar Cars .

Although the names sound similar, please don’t mistake Pachelbel with Taco-Bell. Johann Pachelbel was a German composer during the Baroque Period, and lived from 1653-1706. Although it’s been used countless times, it should never be dismissed for overexposure. One reason this “canon” works so well as a Processional is that it is really a simple “round” allowing the piece can go on as long or as short as the recession lasts.

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This is the official tried and true classic. You can be comfortable using The Pachelbel in D without fearing of using the same tune as everyone else. It has become the “Go-To” Processional, replacing Wagner’s “Wedding March.”
Try it out and let me know what you think.
-Doug

Baby I-Ariana Grande


I have loved Ariana Grande’s voice since I first heard her sing “The Way” three short years ago. There is no doubt that she has astonishing vocal technique and reminds everybody of a young Mariah Carey. But there is something fresh and exciting about every song Ariana sings. Her videos are alway upbeat, with her showing off her dimples, and proving beyond a doubt that there are an amazing amount of great hip-hop dancers in L.A.

“Baby I” brings her to a new level, by actually adding a genuine jazz-infused, Earth, Wind & Fire orchestration. The way she sings over, around and through these deceivingly complicated chords is extraordinary. And the ease with which she manipulates her voice to reach incredible heights is so effortless, that I am convinced she’s easily got the best voice I’ve heard since a 19 year old Whitney Houston.  

Plus, it’s a great dance song, and a blast for a band to play:
Enjoy

Baby I got love for thee so deep inside of me I don’t know where to start
I love you more than anything but the words can’t even touch what’s in my heart
When I try to explain it I be sounding insane the words don’t ever come out right
I get all tongue tied and twisted) I can’t explain what I’m feeling And I say baby, baby
Baby (baby I)
Oh baby, oh baby, my baby (Baby I)
Oh baby, baby I (baby I)
All I’m tryna say is you’re my everything baby
But every time I try to say it words they only complicate it
Baby, baby (Ooh oh)
This is a great pop song in it’s purest sense. It actually brings comparison to Natalie Cole’s “This Will Be.” But I guess I’m not the only Ariana Grande fan around. The video above has had over 127 million views as of today.
Let me know what you think,

Wake Me Up-Avici

There’s something oddly catchy about this song. It starts out with a lazy guitar riff, and sounds like the beginning of a country song. But it gains momentum and by the time you hit the chorus, “So wake me up when it’s all over….”, you’re hooked. And as with any song we use at a wedding or any other party, everybody can sing along. The song really works. Check it out. It’s a really fun song.

What Do You Mean-Justin Bieber

I suppose that it’s time to acknowledge the existence of Justin Bieber as a legitimately solid force in contemporary music. The cover of the March 2016 issue of GQ pronounces “LET US NOW FORGIVE JUSTIN BIEBER.” His song “Sorry” is the first of twenty-five listed on last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine cover story titled “25 SONGS THAT TELL US WHERE MUSIC IS GOING.” The kid is getting harder and harder to ignore. After being discovered singing covers on YouTube, he started a bidding war between Usher and Justin Timberlake over signing this once unmoored but ever-blonde, sweet-voiced (with the face to match) teenager to a label. He really does have a terrific voice, despite spending more time being the lead story on TMZ, intent on fostering his partying, wannabe gangsta’, tattooed bad-boy image than he does in being thought of as a serious artist. But I’m here to praise “The Biebs”… not to bury him.

So… “What Do You Mean?” is a really great, thoroughly pure pop song. So is “Sorry.”  And so is “Where Are U Now”the first three releases off only his third studio album.. It’s no longer an embarrassment to say you enjoy Justin Bieber’s music. Things could be a lot worse. He hasn’t shaven his head like Brittany Spears, or become a complete career-destroying cautionary tale, like Lindsay Lohan. 

If being annoying is the worst thing you can say about him, I’ll give him a pass. The kid from Stratford, Ontario has a great look (he’s actually pretty in that compelling androgynous way) and is acknowledged as a legitimate global sensation. Born in 1994,he won the AMA for Artist of the Year at the age of 16, and did it again two years later, at 18. In 2016, he just won his first Grammy, for Best Dance Recording – “Where Are U Now.”

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While I can’t say I’m a total, true “Belieber” quite yet, I say it’s time to give the kid a chance. I must admit, the first time I really paid attention to him, and genuinely started to like him, was on his two “Carpool Karaoke” appearances with James Corden (who has an uncanny ability to make any performer seem like his best friend.)

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
-Doug

Let’s Stay Together-Maroon 5

True R ‘n B devotees might have me kicked out of the “Hipness Club” for daring to play Adam Levine’s delicate version of Al Green’s 1971 “Soul” classic “Let’s Stay Together.”  Green’s original is spectacular, and well-loved, having been viewed over 72 million times on YouTube. However, for a wedding procession, a song has to be stripped down and be able to be played delicately by two musicians, while still honoring the Al Green original. Adam Levine is one of the few male vocalists with the vocal “chops’ to pull off this song without losing any of the soulful simplicity of the original.

My bride for this weekend….well, not my bride….but you get the idea, Alexandra,  and I spent countless hours on the phone and sent each other dozens of emails laughing about which 90s dance hit would/could sound appropriate for a Wedding Processional without sounding goofy.

As a pianist and arranger, I assured her that I could make any song sound melodic enough for a procession.  I’m pretty sure we spent the most time laughing, yet seriously considering TLCs “No Scrubs” the longest.  She finally landed on Levine’s arrangement for the simplicity of the instrumentation, while retaining Al Green’s iconic melody. We both think it’s a great choice. Personally, I’ll always maintain that choosing any song that actually “means” something to you as the bride or the groom, you can never go wrong.

Leave me a comment to let me know how you feel.

Signed Sealed Delivered-Stevie Wonder

Last Sunday, my band, Best Kept Secret, and I had the privilege of performing at a benefit for White Plains Hospital  being joined on stage by the amazing singer/songwriter Javier Colon at a benefit for White Plains Hospital/Mariano Rivera Celebrity Event and Golf Tournament. Javier is best known for winning the first season of The Voice, coached by Adam Levine. When, I asked him what he’d like to sing with our band, Best Kept Secret, he suggested two Stevie Wonder classics,“Signed Sealed Delivered” and “I Wish.” It was an extraordinary experience with Javier singing lead with Best Kept Secret backing him up. Most memorably was the four part harmonies created at the end of Signed Sealed Delivered.

Since everyone has heard the original, I wanted to share this delicate duet by Ariana Grande & Kenneth Brian “Babyface” Edmond. Babyface has written and produced an astonishing 26 #1 R ‘n B hits, and 23 year old Ariana has a remarkable voice that brings comparison to 90s icons Whitney Houston & Mariah Carey

I normally print out the lyrics to every song I “blog” about. But I think it’s safe to say that everyone alive knows, at least, the chorus, if not every lyric. Here’s just a taste…

Like a fool I went and stayed too long
Now I’m wondering if your love’s still strong
Oo baby, here I am,
Signed, sealed delivered, I’m yours

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Stevie Wonder is nothing less than a musical genius.
Leave a comment to let me know what you think.     -Doug

 

Like A Prayer-Madonna

“Like A Prayer” is a terrific dance song. With a great dance beat, the song dramatically builds  to a joyous gospel choir. (“Like a prayer, I’ll take you there….”)

I know that the video was very controversial when it came out, but that was always her strongest marketing point. I never appreciated Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone as a musician, or vocalist. But she truly redefined the “art” of self-advertising.

As a singer she made her debut album in 1983 and is still churning about albums today, at 58 year olds. She actually  is listed as the Number 1 on VH1‘s list of 100 Greatest Women in Music and number two (behind only The Beatles) on Billboards list of Greatest Hot 100 Artists of All Time.

So despite my lack of appreciation for her voice, I’m clearly in the minority, All I know is that “Like A Prayer” is terrific to use to start out a dance set because it starts out with a slow, yet instantly recognizable, introduction….comes to a pause, and kicks in to a thumping dance groove.

In attempting to cause a stir in the Catholic Church by show a crying “Black Jesus” in the video, she succeeded, garnering the attention she has unabashedly built her entire “brand” on.  So it’s probably best to listen to the song without watching the video, but I figured I’d show you how terrible acting, mediocre singing can’t even ruin a terrific pop dance song.

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Here are the lyrics. Enjoy,

Life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
And it feels like home
When you call my name it’s like a little prayer
I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour I can feel your power
Just like a prayer you know I’ll take you there
I hear your voice, it’s like an angel sighing
I have no choice, I hear your voice
Feels like flying
I close my eyes, Oh God I think I’m falling
Out of the sky, I close my eyes
Heaven help me
When you call my name it’s like a little prayer
I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour I can feel your power
Just like a prayer you know I’ll take you there

Leave comment to let me know your thoughts & opinions.

 

 

Sweet Caroline-Neil Diamond

“Sweet Caroline” is one of the most interesting “rock-ish” tune in our repertoire. It’s not a great song, but it is astonishingly memorable. It is so universally adored that I’ve never played “Sweet Caroline” when it wasn’t one of the biggest hits of the party. It also seems to be ageless, and genre-less. Everybody knows it, and everybody feels totally comfortable belting out the lyrics with our singers. That is a rather unique response to a very average song. A lot of people know some words to most tunes. But, with “Sweet Caroline” it is not uncommon to have the whole party singing with their arms around each other.

The most interesting element of the song, if you listen carefully, is the orchestration. The opening melodies are played by a French horn, followed by an oboe. When the famous “hands….” portions starts, it’s accompanied by shimmering strings, followed with a full horn section. All in all, it’s simply a remarkably famous song that people love to sing with, rather than dance to. But, as long as people are having fun, it’s all good. Here are the lyrics, which according to YouTube, was dedicated to President John Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline.

Where it began, I can’t begin to knowin’
But then I know it’s growing strong
Was in the spring, and spring became the summer
Who’d have believed you’d come along
Hands, touching hands
Reaching out, touching me, touching you

Sweet Caroline, good times never seemed so good
I’d be inclined, to believe they never would
But now I…
Look at the night and it don’t seem so lonely
We filled it up with only two
And when I hurt, hurtin’ runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when I’m holding you
One, touching one. Reaching out, touching me, touching you
Sweet Caroline……….

Cheerleader-OMI

“Cheerleader” is a terrific Calypso-style song by the artist  Omar Samuel Pasley, whose nickname is Omi. Te song always manages to get people up dancing at every party, and makes my trumpet player extremely happy. It’s actually rare to hear a solo trumpet part running throughout an entire song. It’s a very simple song, relying almost exclusively on it’s percussion-infused Caribbean beat. Most guests are unsure exactly how to dance to “Cheerleader,” but it’s hard to hear it, and not at least be captured by its infectious groove.

The lyrics, unsurprisingly, are trite, and more than a little bit objectifying of woman. But like so many dance songs on this blog, the lyrics are fairly inconsequential. They become a lot more obvious and sexist when you watch the video. But what the hell. It’s really a fun song to play, and gratifying to watch people enjoy dancing to. Here are some of the lyrics.

When I need motivation
My one solution is my queen
‘Cause she stays strong, yeah yeah

She is always in my corner
Right there when I want her
All these other girls are tempting
But I’m empty when you’re gone
And they say, do you need me?
Do you think I’m pretty?
Do I make you feel like cheating?
I’m like no, not really ’cause
Oh, I think that I’ve found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her
Oh, I think that I’ve found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her

She walks like a model, she grants my wishes
Like a genie in a bottle. Yeah, yeah
‘Cause I’m the wizard of love
And I got the magic wand
All these other girls are tempting
But I’m empty when you’re gone.

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“Cheerleader” really is a fun dance song. Get up and dance.
Leave a comment to let me know how you feel.