wedding music

Walk This Way-Aerosmith/Run DMC

I couldn’t write a better description of the Aerosmith-Run DMC collaboration than this one that originally appeared in TIME Magazine. The only thing not mentioned in this insightful review below is that the original Aerosmith version reached #9 on the Billboard Charts in 1975. Then the reworked collaboration reached #4 eleven years later, which is pretty impressive. Here’s TIME Magazine’s account of the song’s history.

“It’s difficult to think of a more obvious metaphor for the divide between rock and hip-hop than the one in this video: literally a brick wall (one, by the way, that doesn’t appear to be very stable). In 1986, Run-DMC was an Adidas-rocking rap group on its way up, Aerosmith a quickly fading rock band that had achieved its peak in the mid-to-late ’70s (and whose members looked it — honestly, they still do). Originally recorded for 1975’s Toys in the Attic album, the song “Walk This Way” had a fantastic, jagged guitar lick. A little more than a decade later, Run-DMC blindly sampled it, discovered where it came from and got in touch with Aerosmith. A genre-smashing video was born. The concept is straightforward: The two bands practice in adjacent studios. Their music is different, but their servitude to the power of the beat is the same. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler busts through that wall, and a new partnership is formed. What’s it matter the type of music as long as it thrills the ears and compels the hips? Yes, it’s literal, but everyone who watched this video got the message loud and clear.”

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Either version of this seminal rock tune works amazingly well on the dance floor.
Love this song. You can’t sit this one out. What do you think? Enjoy it!
-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

Addicted To Love-Robert Palmer

When Robert Palmer’s video of his mega-hit “Addicted To Love” on MTV in 1985 it caused a major sensation for its obvious sexuality.  But the song, as well as the video, was such an instant hit, and Palmer was already such an established and well respected singer/songwriter that it was taken as mere “tongue in cheek” humor.

The exact same thing can, and should, be said about the video for “Blurred Lines” which is a blatant rip-off of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted To Love.” The only difference between the two videos is that the girls were totally naked in “Blurred Lines.”  The terrific filmmaker Richard Curtis pays tribute to the “pouty girls backing up the singer” genre in his much-loved romantic comedy, Love Actually. 

Almost thirty years later, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were taken to court and ordered to pay damages to the estate of Marvin Gaye because they more or less stole his song “Got To Give It Up.” What I never understood is why Pharrell, who is a brilliant businessman, as well as an incredible songwriter and producer, didn’t just announce that the song was an homage to the great Marvin Gaye, and negotiate a fee, or a portion of the royalties to Marvin Gaye’s family before he released the song.

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But rather than make this a condemnation of the authenticity of “Blurred Lines’“, I want this post to give kudos to “Addicted To Love” as a strong, guitar-driven song that successfully blurred the lines between dance music and rock ‘n roll.

Watch the video, listen to the tune….and let me know what you think.
Doug

 

Brighter Than Sunshine-Aqualung

I first heard the song “Brighter Than Sunshine” in the 2005 movie “A Lot Like Love” starring Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet. It’s a fairly formulaic romantic comedy, but the song adds so much to the mood and feel to the movie, that the song lives once you forget about the movie. The lyrics to the song are beautiful, and perfect for a First Dance.

What a feeling in my soul
Love burns brighter than sunshine
Brighter than sunshine
Let the rain fall, I don’t care
I’m yours and suddenly you’re mine
Suddenly you’re mine
And it’s brighter than sunshine

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The song was written and performed by British singer/songwriter Matt Hales who recorded under the name “Aqualung.” As you’ll discover, many of my suggestions for processionals, recessionals and first dances are found on movie soundtracks.

Let me know what you think.
-Doug

Lucky-Jason Mraz

One thing about love songs sung as duets is that they sound terrific with a band with multiple singers. Having a strong lead male and strong lead female allows us to recreate the sound precisely how it sounds on the recording. The song “Lucky” performed by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat is an absolutely delightful duet. The tune is elegant with the lyrics romantic and sentimental without ever turning saccharine. The key lyric that makes this such a perfect First Dance has got to be the elegantly simple…“Lucky I’m in love with my best friend.”

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Do you hear me, I’m talking to you?
Across the water across the deep blue ocean
Under the open sky, oh my, baby I’m trying
Boy, I hear you in my dreams
I feel your whisper across the sea
I keep you with me in my heart
You make it easier when life gets hard
Lucky I’m in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again

I think this is a subtle, timeless tune that’ll stay fresh for decades. A perfect First Dance
Let me know what you think.
-Doug

 

Ain’t Nobody-Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan is universally recognized as one of the few “once-in-a-lifetime” performers whose name is inextricably linked with a genre; in this case, it’s 1980s & 90s R ‘n B funk. From the first note played on the clavinet, the infectious, timeless “Ain’t Nobody” makes you move with its pure and instantly recognizable groove. The familiarity factor, paired with a killer funky drum beat, makes it the perfect song to use to introduce the bridal party at your wedding.

What I love about incorporating a song like “Ain’t Nobody” into your wedding playlist is that it’s so upbeat and musically delicious, it totally ignites and enhances any moment of the party, but especially maximizes the excitement of introducing and welcoming the bride and groom and bridal party into the reception.

 

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Introductory music needs to be able to change volume quickly to accommodate how quickly or slowly a couple will walk into the room. The most interesting part of “Ain’t Nobody” (aside from the Stevie Wonder-esque clarinet groove) is the Chorus, which everyone can sing along with:

Oh – oh – oh – oh
Ain’t nobody.
Loves me better
Makes me happy.
Makes me feel this way
Ain’t nobody.
Loves me better than you

The most important part of selecting a song for the introduction is a) to make the guests in the room relaxed and totally engaged, b) to give the bridal party music that is just “knockout fun” to enter the room “already dancing” and c) use music whose volume can be raised and lowered without ever losing the beat.

All three of those criteria are met with this iconic 1983 hit. Once again, as with all dance songs, an introductory song should be instantly recognizable from the first note.  “Ain’t Nobody” is one of the handful of quintessential songs that is so funky and festive, it’s a fantastic pick for bringing your bridal party into your reception .

Let me know what you think.
-Doug

On Golden Pond-Dave Grusin

Aside from being one of my favorite jazz pianists, Dave Grusin has composed some of the most lush and evocatively romantic movie scores ever produced. This opening theme from the 1981 movie “On Golden Pond” is a perfect example of Grusin’s writing. The subtly magnificent score serves as the emotional touchstone for the movie which won Academy Awards for its stars Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda, and was nominated for eight more, including one for Grusin’s soundtrack.

The most unique element of his scores is his trademark ability to juxtapose classically orchestrated themes with ones that exist solely on the strength of his jazz-infused piano.

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One of Hollywood’s most prolific film composers from the late 1970s to the early 90s, Grusin composed dozens of soundtracks for movie classics including “The Firm,” “Heaven Can Wait,” “And Justice For All,” “The Goodbye Girl,” and “The Fabulous Baker Boys.”

His most recognizable work is undoubtedly the song “It Might Be You” from Sydney Pollack’s 1982 comic masterpiece, “Tootsie.” His brilliance has long been appreciated by among movie aficionados. His soundtracks have been nominated for Academy Awards eight times. He finally won in 1988 for Robert Redford’s otherwise forgettable “The Milagro Beanfield War.”

Listen carefully, and think about using this lyrical melody as part of the perfect soundtrack for your own cinematically beautiful wedding ceremony.

Let me know what you think.
-Doug

 

Cider House Rules-Rachel Portman

Some of the most beautiful, evocative instrumental music, perfect for processionals, are written for Hollywood soundtracks. One the finest composers for film is Rachel Portman, who was the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Original Score for the movie “Cider House Rules” in 2000. The movie also won for six other Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director (Lasse Hallstrom), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Caine) and Best Adapted Screenplay (John Irving)

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“Cider House Rules” is one of my all time favorite films, with Portman’s soundtrack reaching the pantheon of some of the greatest composers for film, like Ennio Morricone, John Williams and the late James Horner who tragically died in a plane crash in June, 2015. Horner won an Academy Award for Titanic in 1997, which also became the largest selling soundtrack of all time, selling over 30 million units.

Many of the pieces that I will be reccomending in the Ceremony section in the blog will be coming from film soundtracks. Rachel Portman’s sensational score for “Cider House Rules” is as beautiful as the movie itself. In the next few blog entries I’ll be trying to introduce some of the most beautiful, sentimental, romantic scores to accompany the Bride and Bridal Party down the aisle. Definitely give this one a listen.

Let me know what you think.
-Doug