dance tunes for weddings

100% Pure Love-Crystal Waters

Crystal Waters’ 1994 100% Pure Love is a tried-and-true certified dance hit.
The song establishes its strong dance beat from the very first note…using the unique combination of a lone cowbell and syncopated synthesizer patch. Those initial four bars are then joined by the kick drum for the second four bars…ending with a “stop-time hit” right before the first lyrics come in.
This song, like so many of the others on this blog, is here because of the simplicity of the oft-repeated chorus. I’ve always said that  guests will dance to songs they recognize and more importantly, sing along to. Without knowing a single lyric of the verses, everyone can jump in on…“From the back to the middle and round again…”
My personal favorite part of the song is the “stop-time” a cappella vocal section right when you think the song is becoming too repetitive. Here are the lyrics to the first verse and the chorus, followed by the “stop-time” section. Enjoy!

It’s 12 past midnight, don’t close your eyes
Your soul’s half alive, and I’ll be by your side
I’ve come to take you there, show you how to care
Just be aware, that you’ll have to share
I want your love, I want it tonight
I’m taking your heart, so don’t you fight
I’ll be your answer, I’ll be your wish.
I’ll be your fantasy, your favorite dish.
CHORUS
From the back to the middle and around again
I’m gonna be there til the end, 100% pure love (2xs).

[STOP TIME – After the 2nd VERSE & CHORUS]
You’ll never have to run away
You’ll always have a friend to play
You’ll never go out on your own
In me you will find a home, home

Crystal Waters

Fun Fact #1: Crystal Waters‘ great aunt was the amazing early 20th century African American vocalist, Ethel Waters, who was breaking new racial ground along with other iconic singers Bessie Smith, Lena Horne and Josephine Baker.
Fun Fact #2
: Listen carefully to the bass. It contains a grand total of four ascending notes from the beginning to the end. #Simplicity.
Let me know what you think.
-Doug

You Make My Dreams Come True

“You Make My Dreams Come True” is pretty much the 1980s Philadelphia-based band Hall & Oates’s most recognizable hit. I couldn’t resist putting the scene from the Joseph Gordon-Levitt movie “500 Days Of Summer” on this post, because they use “You Make My Dreams Come True” to represent the lead character’s ultimate “feel good” song.

I’ve always loved the funky piano intro that sounds almost off-beat until the down-beat lands right as the vocals come in. Actually, it’s precisely that piano introduction that makes the song feel so familiar. It’s such a great 80s-90s dance tune. Trust me, the dance floor will be packed by the time the first verse begins.
When the upbeat lyrics start, that first verse has that same kind of “jangly” feel, with the syllables of those lyrics not really arriving precisely when and where you would expect them. It was unique in 1980, and is just as fresh today…to which the hit 2009 movie will attest.

What I want, you’ve got, and it might be hard to handle
But like the flame that burns the candle
The candle feeds the flame, yeah yeah
What I’ve got’s full stock of thoughts and dreams that scatter
You pull them all together, and how, I can’t explain,
Oh yeah, well well you. You make my dreams come true
Well well you, oh yeah. You make my dreams come true

Their style became known as “blue-eyed soul” because their songs were so strongly influenced by more traditional “soul” music. Some of their other most popular songs include “Sara Smile,” “Man Eater,” and “Rich Girl.”  Hall lives up in the Hudson Valley, two hours north of NYC, and I’m not sure where Oates resides, but their hybrid rock-soul imprint seems to stay with me (at least) forever.

Hall & Oates

Daryl Hall’s the one on the left, John Oates is on the right. Their success has been celebrated by being inducted in to the “Songwriters Hall of Fame” in 2003, and the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” in 2014.
Check it out and let me know what you think.
-Doug 

 

I Want You Back-Jackson 5

“I Want You Back” was written and performed by The Jackson 5 in 1969. The song went on to #1 on the Billboard Charts and immediately became one of the landmark songs of the Detroit-based Motown Records. The piano glissando sliding into the instantly recognizable guitar groove and iconic bass line is enough to pack a dance floor before the first lyric is sung.

What keeps the song fresh, forty-seven (!) years after its release…is the memory of when the world first fell in love with the astonishingly talented and charismatic eleven-year old lead singer of the Jackson Five.

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Tragically, as his global artistic acclaim and record-breaking record sales grew to astonishing heights, so did his well-documented charges of sexual child abuse, bizarre  behavior and endless facial surgeries.  However nothing, including his drug-induced death, ever deterred the public’s adoration of the “King Of Pop.” Somehow the thing we chose to remember is the joy his talent brought us.
Thank you, Michael!

Let me know your thoughts!
-Doug

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

The prolific writing duo of Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson, who would later receive acclaim as one of the best vocal duos in the history of contemporary music, wrote the song “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” for Motown superstars Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrrell. That original 1967 recording was very successful, but only went to #19 on the Billboard Charts. It wasn’t until Diana Ross re-recorded it in 1970 that it went to #1. With two very different arrangements, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” was recorded by two of the most iconic acts to come out of Motown within the short period of three years, each time reaching the Top 20. Although Diana Ross’ version sold over 1.5 million copies, it’s the original Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell version that has stood the test of time.

I personally rediscovered “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” when Whoopi Goldberg playfully performed a “Vegas” arrangement in “Sister Act II”.   Years later, the original served as the basis for a sing-along in the Denzel Washington film “Remember The Titans” (introducing an impossibly scrawny, young Ryan Gosling.) Most recently it was highlighted in “Guardians Of The Galaxy.”

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Why, or how, a work of art becomes so deeply ingrained in the pop culture of generation after generation is impossible to specifically articulate. But very few pop songs have remained so eternally fresh, and so solidly entrenched into the “Mount Rushmore” of great American songs as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” With its emergence into the soundtrack of so many movies, the song is constantly being reintroduced to new generations of both music and movie lovers. It truly is a terrific song, and remains a perrenial favorite at weddings and parties because of its instant familiarity to guests who’ve heard it so many times for the past fifty years.

Let me know what you think.
-Doug

Take The World-Johnnyswim

I’ve written many times about how some of the best songs in our repertoire have come directly from brides and grooms. The most recent example is a song requested by our newest client for their First Dance seven months from now. Somehow, I had never heard of either the song or the group before they emailed the YouTube link to me. The song is “Take The World,” and the group is Johnnyswim. The lyrics are straightforward and uncomplicated, yet poetically elegant. The accompaniment is equally sophisticated in its unobtrusive simplicity: arpeggiated acoustic guitar chords, a constantly moving piano line, a subtle bass line, and a lilting drum beat (played with brushes rather than sticks) give the song a constant feeling of forward motion. Unobtrusive strings and subtle horns fill out the (not so simple) orchestration.

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Making it even more structurally sound (and subtly perfect for a first dance) is that the melody is split evenly between the male and female vocalists. The first verse is sung by the female, the second by the male…and they harmonize together for the chorus. Here are some of the beautiful lyrics:

Sweethearts give sweet compliments
but our love goes without saying
Though you make it hard not to spill my heart
every time I see you swaying
Darling you and me we can take the world. 

Cause they can write stories they can sing songs
But they don’t make fairy tales sweeter than ours
They can climb mountains high into the sky
They can’t take the world oh…like we can take the world

It’s not utterly overplayed or predictable and I think that makes it even sweeter. I’d love to know what you think of it.
Doug

Hold My Hand-Jess Glynne

Although British pop sensation Jess Glynne’s album “I Cry When I Laugh” is ranked No. 7, only one behind Taylor Swift’s “1989,” the song “Hold My Hand” was my first introduction to her music. She sang it on “Late Night With Trevor Noah” the other night, and I immediately knew if would be a great dance song for my band.

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The song’s form is sort of unusual; a stylistic hybrid. The verses sound almost “country-ish,” while the choruses (with the help of a strong dance drum beat) are pure “pop-dance.”

As for whether “Hold My Hand,” or for that matter, Ms. Glynne, has any real staying power, only time will tell. But for now, I just can’t wait to try it out in one of our new dance sets. I’ll keep you posted!

Let me know what you think.
-Doug

Taking Care Of Business-BTO

I recently wrote a blog about how “people will invariably dance to songs they can sing along with.” The post was about the pop tune “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk The Moon, and how they repeat the phrase “Shut Up and Dance” 15 times. Bachman Turner Overdrive‘s 1973 Rock hit “Taking Care Of Business” repeats the title phrase 50 times. And that’s with a fade-out…

Here is the actual chorus:
And I’ll be takin’ care of business every day
Takin’ care of business every way
I’ve been takin’ care of business, it’s all mine
Takin’ care of business and working overtime, work out.

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This song definitely meets at least two of my prerequisites for a guaranteed successful (wedding) dance song: 1. An instantly recognizable instrumental guitar hook; 2. And easily acquired “sing-alongability.” It’s really is perfect to add to our Classic Rock repertoire.
Let me know what you think.
-Doug

 

Old Time Rock and Roll-Bob Seger

My only goal at any party is to get the dance floor packed, and keep it packed for as long as possible.

Rule No. 1 People dance to songs to which they can sing along to, or are at least familiar with. Although we haven’t played this song in at least a dozen years, it’s fun to consider it here on a Throwback Thursday.
Rule No. 2 People are much more likely to start dancing to songs whose instrumental introductions are immediately familiar.

Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” became the classic example of just such a recognizable introduction in this scene that made an overnight star of a young Tom Cruise from the movie “Risky Business.”

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Other examples would be the guitar intro to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” or The Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” (or any of a dozen other Stones tunes.) Usher’s 4-note synthesizer intro to “Yeah” is a more contemporary example of song introductions that get people running to the dance floor. Don’t forget about oldies “Shout,” and “Twist ‘n Shout.” I think you get the idea!

Let me know what you think.
Doug

What Makes You Beautiful

James Corden has come up with a brilliant concept called Carpool Karaoke, in which he shares a car ride with some of the biggest names in contemporary pop music. What makes it compelling is that the guests and Corden seem to be completely comfortable belting out their greatest hits in between good natured banter between host and stars.

This one actually converted me into a One Direction fan, although I could live without Harry Styles tossing his hair back overtime he speaks. James Corden has brilliantly manufactured a “bit” to rival Jimmy Fallon’s “History of Rap” arrangements with Justin Timberlake.

one direction

The first song on this 13-minute video What Makes You Beautiful has actually become one of my favorite dance tunes. Check it out.