Yo, what are the best party tunes out there? Who the heck knows? I have tried to craft the perfect party mix many times, and I think I succeeded only once. That was for a special 40th birthday party where I made four of the BEST party CDs ever, and the party was amazing. Maybe I'll share that track list with you someday.
But that party was many moons ago, and sometimes the songs don't hold up, or you want something new to play. I'm going to lay down a couple of rules for party tunes, but of course, you can ignore them at will. That would be stupid, however, and as BRP attracts only the smartest and best-looking people out there, I know you will heed what I say. So here are the rules:
1. Play something that everyone knows. If you come to my house for a party, you are expected to dance. And it's always best to dance to something you know so that you can time your moves perfectly to the beat, and show off that shit that you've been practicing when no one is around. We had a friend who used to jump off a chair during a Michael Jackson song that was played over and over in college, Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough, and it became his signature move. I love how that track starts with that bass beat and then let's you go big right off the bat. And the song has easy lyrics for you to lip sync as you do the splits and spins on the floor. We have good friends that always substitute lyrics in this song that are nasty and funny and have become a staple for us, too. Hey, imitation is flattery, and if you can imitate the best dance moves that MJ does in this song, you are one cool cat. And if you need another MJ song that is a bit slower and not as long (i.e., you're getting old), try Rock With You. Yummy.
2. Play something with an edge. Yeah, there are songs that just have a gritty lead riff lick that gets every testosterone filled carbon-based life form playing that air guitar. But don't pick some boring tune - go with one of the best rock 'n roll tracks EVER. Yes, I'm talking about David Bowie's Rebel Rebel. This song has it all: unbelievable guitar, great driving beat, fantastic rock lyrics, and a danceability not always captured with rock songs. Hot tramp, how could they know?
3. Honor a fallen hero. Yes, this is the Rick James/Prince rule. I LOVE Rick James. And Prince? Holy crap, you can't go wrong with either one of these guys. I'm going to pick Mr. James's Give It To Me. How great is the video? Hahaha, one of the Classics. But the song itself has great horns, a danceable groove that has a couple of crescendo parts for your signature moves, lyrics that resonate with the males in the audience, and sing-along parts that are memorable: give me that stuff, that funk, that sweet, that funky stuff. Yeah, right now! The only downside with this particular track, and I'm stretching, is that it is lengthy. That means you'll have to do that suburban shuffle more times than you might like, but it also means that you get the chance to experiment with some new moves. C'mon, blow my mind!
4. Don't forget the classics. Hey, we're living in the 21st Century and we think that everything essential happened in the time of the iPhone. But it just ain't true! In fact, we used to actually converse with real live people and have fun with them. The music back then was bad ass, too, and laid the groundwork for everything that came after it. So remember the classics. Like The Beatles Twist and Shout which has everything you want in a rock song: poppy beat, catchy guitar, easy but fun lyrics, and good times galore. It even gives you the chance to shake your head and scream right along with the boys in the band. Plus, for you oldsters or those with bad joints, it's short. What's not to like?
5. Play the obligatory new song that everyone likes. A song like Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson's Uptown Funk. Horns. Danceability. Known by billions of people. Even the hipsters in their little hats, high-water pants, and bushy beards will be out on the dance floor for this one. Don't believe me, just watch! And Bruno is a traditionalist in many ways, paying homage to guys like James Brown. This song will funk you up.
6. Play a song just for girls (and their moms). Oh baby, it's a lot more fun to watch the women dance than the men. Men are too freaking serious, or, worse, are big babies and don't want to take a risk and put themselves out there. But women just go out and have fun. I'm going to put two "get out the girls" songs in this category: Van Morrison's venerable Wild Night, what with all the girls walking by dressed up for each other and its title promising a big night on the town; and the Spice Girls Spice Up Your Life, a song so irresistible that no woman stays off the dance floor when it blasts out of the speakers. And that's what you want: women shimmying, moving, bumping and grinding. Grrrrrrlllll Power!
7. Play a Madonna track. Hey, she was iconic for a reason. Her whole raison d'etre was to get people dancing, and she succeeded many times over. I'm pretty big on the material girl, but I'm partial to Get Into The Groove. Tonight, I want to dance with someone else!
8. Play some classic rock. It's classic for a reason. Maybe they should call the best of the best Epic Rock. But some of the top party tracks are not what is played regularly on MMR. I'm going to throw a couple out here because I couldn't pick just one. First, AC/DC's You Shook Me All Night Long. Fantastic heavy guitar, smutty lyrics, and known throughout the civilized world, it's a can't miss. Give me those schoolboy shorts, g'damn ya! Next, the Romantics What I Like About You, just because it's got a great new wave sound and danceability that is out of this world. I also know when to do the hand claps. I saw these guys at the Disco Depot in Radford, Virginia and they wore red leather suits, and that simple fact gives me something to discuss at my parties. Finally, Billy Idol's Dancing With Myself, which is one of my all-time favorite songs and always gets me grooving in a vulgar and nasty fashion.
9. Motown. Or a Motown remake. I love Motown tracks, and I'm going to go with two of them here. First, the Jackson Five's I Want You Back. How good is this song? As soon as that piano starts up, everyone in the joint is singing and moving their arthritic hips in time to the beat. It's an all-time great one, and guaranteed to make you loved by everyone at your party. Well, that and the free drinks, but you take what you can and assume the best. And this video is just so timeless in its sixties funk. If you dress like Jermaine at your next party, I guarantee that everyone will remember you. The second track is Build Me Up Buttercup, but I'm going with the David Johansen version, which is just enough off-kilter to give it a new kick, yet it's the same tune and lyrics that the Foundations made so famous. New York Dolls version, ahoy!
10. A big finish. If you've done it right and followed my rules, you are a hero and people are hot, sweaty and wanting more. But you have to get those free-loaders out of your house before they find out where you keep the good hootch, so you regrettably have to end the night. Some like to end with a slow drag. Some people are also dumber than dirt. You end big, with a great fast song that has people begging for one ... more ... song. So I'll give you two tracks to shut the mother down. First up, the Rascals great song Good Lovin'. Don't be tempted to go with the Grateful Dead version. It is ok, but falls far short of what the Rascals put down on vinyl. And who the hell wants to play the GD at their party anyway? You showered and wear deodorant, after all, and aren't some damn dirty hippie. Just don't be tempted to dress like the Rascals in this video - are those the dumbest looking Peter Pan collars or what? Anyway, once that song is done, people will be pleading for another track, and you tell them that if they put a twenty in the tip bucket, you can accommodate them. And then blow their minds with the Talking Heads Burning Down The House. Again, you have to choose the correct version, and you, being the smart BRP reader, grab the live version as your closer. Don't believe me? Give a listen and then tell me I'm wrong. I double dog dare you.
How'd you like them apples? Pretty freakin' good, huh? And next up are the tunes that you DO NOT play at your parties. EVER. Now, I'm not going to dip deep into the bottomless pit of crap rock songs and say never play these because they are too obvious. Nope, I'm going to insult those idiots who actually play certain songs that torture us at weddings, mitzvahs, birthday parties, and the like. Yep, I'm going to skewer the truly bad tracks that are always played and that always lead to many people instantly having to take a piss at the same time. You be sure to check back and see if you think I'm wrong (I'm not, btw).
I'm not sure I'll get to that before I put up a couple more reviews. I'm checking out two shows this week, and will dutifully review and write them up for you. And hopefully I'll be uploading some great videos from those shows, too. Oh, and I have some other things to write up to prove that BRP isn't just about rock 'n roll 24-7-365.
One last brain fart and then I'm out of here. I lived in Miami during the summer of 1984 (yup, during the great cocaine cowboys era, a very interesting time to hang out in SoFla) and there was a rock station in the city with the call letters WSHE. They used to give out window stickers for the car that simply said "She's Only Rock 'n Roll." No other hook for the radio station at all. They were popular as hell, and everyone knew the double entendre intended by the clever dude who came up with it. There are so many ways to be cool in this world, but having a big late 70s muscle car with "She's Only Rock 'n Roll" on the back window got you a free pass to any party in town. If I could only find one of those stickers now.... Rock on!
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.