dance music for weddings

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,

On My Mind-Ellie Goulding

British Pop singer Ellie Goulding (pronounced Gold-ing) has become an international sensation with her third album “Delirium.” The beat of “On My Mind” is completely infectious and never fails to pack any dance floor. After listening to this song for the first time, I couldn’t stop singing “cause I got you on my mind” for days.

Ellie Goulding

At the same time that I instantly fell in love with this song, I couldn’t help but think how influenced it was by The Police. Starting with the incredibly familiar quasi-reggae guitar opening,try singing “Message In A Bottle” along with “On My Mind.” The two are shockingly similar. However, if you’re going to steal from anyone, you might as well steal from the best. But then again, as the beloved Pharrell Williams recently found out, there are definitely “blurred lines” between an homage and a lawsuit. Just sayin’.

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

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

 

No Scrubs-TLC

The band Atlanta-based TLC is actually the best-selling “girl group” in American Pop history. According to Wikipedia, they had ten number one singles, and four multi-Platinum albums throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. The band is comprised of the three vocalists seen in video, including Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. Lopes died in a car crash in 2007. TLC is actually an anagram for “T-Boz,” “Left Eye” & “Chilli,”  My favorite of their songs is “Waterfalls,” but “No Scrubs” has a unique almost Flamenco style guitar riff running throughout. The lyrics are not very deep, and are a tad repetitive, but it really does have a nice mellow dance groove, and is very evocative of the most popular R & B music made two decades ago.

A scrub is a guy that thinks he’s fly
And is also known as a buster
Always talkin’ about what he wants
And just sits on his broke ass
So (no)
I don’t want your number (no)
I don’t want to give you mine and (no)
I don’t want to meet you nowhere (no)
I don’t want none of your time and (no)
I don’t want no scrub
A scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me
Hanging out the passenger side
Of his best friend’s ride
Trying to holler at me
I don’t want no scrub
A scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me
Hanging out the passenger side
Of his best friend’s ride
Trying to holler at me
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Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts or opinions.

Sway-Pussycat Dolls

I must admit that movies like “Shall We Dance,” starring Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere are right on top of my cinematic “guilty pleasures” In the same vein as Channing & Jenna DeWan’s “Step Up” and Antonio Banderas’ “Take The Lead.” Coincidentally, Jenna DeWan co-starred in “Take The Lead” as one of Antonio’s students.

The actual music in most of these “dance” movies is usually irrelevant, needing only to have a great beat to accompany the dancing. But the terrific arrangement of the song “Sway” in “Shall We Dance” stayed with me. “Sway” turned out to be a Spanish song, written by two Mexican composers and first recorded in English by Dean Martin in 1954. It’s been recorded as a jazz instrumental many times, and revived as a vocal by Michael Buble in 2003, then The Pussycat Dolls in 2004 for the movie. It’s the percussive mambo beat, and the extraordinary horn arrangement that make this the ultimate arrangement for me.

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This past weekend, we played a wedding in which we brought an additional vocalist who happened to know this exact arrangement. I wrote it out for the band and it was a huge hit. I’ll be adding more and more Spanish songs to our repertoire.

The most surprising thing is that “Sway” was sung by The Pussycat Dolls who I thought were nothing more than a sexy/beautiful Las Vegas showgirl act. It turns out that they were indeed thrown together as a tightly choreographed  “lounge act” until they started recording with A & M Records. Selling over 56 million albums from 2003-2009, they remain one of the most successful “girl-groups” of all time. Who knew?

Leave a comment to let me know how you feel about either my “guilty pleasure” dance movies, or The Pussycat Dolls.

 

 

Dancing In The Street

“Dancing In The Street” is an all-time great sixties song , recorded during the era when Motown Records owned the Pop Charts. One hit after another came out of Berry Gordy’s Detroit-based label,  which, at the beginning was simply Gordy’s own relatively small house in Detroit,  where he lived with his family on the second floor, having turned the first floor into a recording studio he called “Hitsville U.S.A.”

For a fairly long stretch, it seemed like every ‘R & B’ dance hit was written, arranged and recorded at Hitsville,  soon to become “Motown.” Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson Five, etc. all were introduced from this one studio on 2648 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI. It actually wasn’t until I first heard this song that I realized that Motown was short for The Motor City, because Detroit was the Car Capital of America. (Motor City = Motown.)

The most musically interesting thing about this song are the use of the horns. From the blaring opening of the song, the horn become an integral part of this perennial classic. Here’s a picture of Gordy’s original home/studio, and the lyrics to this 1964 Motown classic:

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Calling out around the world, are you ready for a brand new beat?
Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the street.
They’re dancing in Chicago,
Down in New Orleans,
In New York City.
All we need is music, sweet music. There’ll be music everywhere.
There’ll be swinging and swaying and records playing, dancing in the street.
Oh, it doesn’t matter what you wear just as long as you are there.
So come on, every guy, grab a girl. Everywhere around the world
They’ll be dancing. They’re dancing in the street.

It’s an invitation across the nation, a chance for folks to meet.
There’ll be laughing, singing, and music swinging, dancing in the street.
Philadelphia, P.A.
Baltimore and D.C. now.
Can’t forget the Motor City.

All we need is music, sweet music. There’ll be music everywhere……

There may be a very few fleeting moments when you might notice  “Dancing In The Street” dating itself,  and yet, most of the time, it sounds as fresh as it did when it was first released fifty-two years ago. A can’t miss dance treeasure.

Let me know what you think.

 

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……….