Standards and pop songs for wedding reception
January 1, 2006 2:02 PM   Subscribe

Yet another wedding music question: my sister has asked me to help her out by compiling a list of "standards and pop songs" for the DJ to play at her wedding. Because my taste in music is stuck in the Depeche Mode/New Order/The Cure era, I have no idea how to compile this list.

I've read other wedding music questions and none of the answers seemed to address my specific needs. I need suggestions for "rat pack-type standards" (does not need to be original versions, covers of standards will be great, too) and "pop" songs.

A bit about my sister, she's 36 and likes alternative and college-type music. I'm not sure if there is anything in that genre that might be typical/appropriate music to play at a wedding. As you can see, I need some guidance.

I know other posts have requested "fun" songs and people have suggested things like Love Stinks, etc. Unfortunately, my sister has absolutely NO sense of humor whatsoever, so jokey songs probably aren't going to work.

Thanks in advance for the help. I'm clueless about standards and when I think of dj-friendly pop songs, I think of songs like Celebrate, Breakout and I've Had the Time of my Life (yeah, it's been a while since I've been to a wedding), and I don't think anyone wants to hear songs like that.
posted by necessitas to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Poll the guest list for each guest's top 3 wedding songs. Play those songs.
posted by i_cola at 2:08 PM on January 1, 2006

Lots and lots of wedding djs put song lists on their websites. Googling for the name of a famous singer/act + "wedding dj" (example) is one way to find them, your google fu may come up with others.
posted by gimonca at 2:18 PM on January 1, 2006

Two words: Burt Bacharach. Oh, and she might like this compilation of lounge standards by alternative artists.
posted by holgate at 2:18 PM on January 1, 2006

How much does her DJ suck that she has to do his job for him? This is the sort of thing that the DJ is supposed to do, so other than high level guidance ('standards and pop songs but no country' for example) and any specific requests she might have, she shouldn't need to provide a ton of input. The DJ should know what gets played at weddings.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:25 PM on January 1, 2006

I doubt I'd be any good at suggesting songs for a wedding reception either (Invariably skews towards depressing indie-rock I'm afraid) but The Art of the Mix is a good place to look for other people's wedding mixes. The search page doesn't let you link to results, but I got a number of good ones by searching for the term "wedding" in the Mix Name field, and then limiting it to a particular category (e.g. 'Romantic').

Here's a decent one from the Tiny Mix Tapes Automatic Mix Tape Generator, from which you could theoretically request a custom-made mix tape if this AskMe thread doesn't help you.
posted by Hildago at 2:30 PM on January 1, 2006

It's cheesy as hell, but disco favorites like "We Are Family" and "YMCA" have both been played at all 4 weddings I've attended recently. I think the Macarena is still popping up from time to time too. Your ideas about wedding music are not that far off. People like songs that are fun, upbeat and familiar; anything that gets Grandma and Grandpa out on the dance floor
posted by junkbox at 2:43 PM on January 1, 2006

I loathe it but at 90% of DJ'd weddings I've been too I've heard "You Look Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton.
posted by epugachev at 2:51 PM on January 1, 2006

Warning: it has been my experience at at least three weddings that the DJ believes requests are something that should be round-filed. At one wedding, the groom briefed the DJ twice beforehand that if anyone came up and gave him a record, that should be the next record that goes on. The DJ refused to do this for an hour or so until the groom dressed him down.

I've also read that an "mp3 player" does wonders in replacing a DJ. You're going to let some stranger pick songs to play when your sister doesn't have a sense of humor?
posted by user92371 at 2:56 PM on January 1, 2006

Earth, Wind, and Fire. Specifically, "September".
posted by phrontist at 3:06 PM on January 1, 2006

Full disclosure: wife of a wedding DJ here.

Nat King Cole: (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons
Frank Sinatra: The Way You Look Tonight
Nina Simone: My Baby Just Cares For Me
Stevie Wonder: Ribbon in the Sky; Overjoyed; Signed Sealed Delivered
Al Green: Let's Stay Together
Jill Scott: He Loves Me
Sade: By Your Side
Peter Gabriel: In Your Eyes; Blood of Eden
Sting: My One and Only Love
U2: All I Want Is You; With or Without You
Sarah McLachlan: Ice Cream
Edwin McCain: I'll Be; I Could Not Ask for More
John Mayer: Your Body is a Wonderland
Chet Baker: My Funny Valentine
Ben Folds: The Luckiest
Dave Matthews: Crush; Crash; Satellite
Billie Holiday: Easy to Love; You're My Thrill
Diana Krall: Some Call It Madness; The Look of Love
Sarah Vaughan: You Stepped Out of a Dream; Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
Sara Groves: Fly
Chantal Kreviazuk: Feels Like Home
Nora Jones: Come Away With Me
INXS: Never Tear Us Apart
Etta James: At Last
Natalie Merchant: Kind and Generous
Van Morrison: Crazy Love
Dean Martin: You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You; Ain't That a Kick in the Head
Mazzy Star: Fade Into You
David Gray: This Year's Love
Ella Fitzgerald: Dream a Little Dream of Me
Jimmy Durante: As Time Goes By
Marvin Gaye: Let's Get It On
Dido: Thank You
John Coltrane: Soul Eyes
Coldplay: Clocks
Franz Ferdinand: Take Me Out

One note of caution: if the DJ she's contracted hasn't been enough of a resource to at least provide suggestions, then I'd strongly advise against requesting blanket categories of music. "Standards" to some DJs might mean Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington, while others interpret it as "The Chicken Dance" and "Celebrate." Similarly, "pop" is translated as Coldplay, David Gray, Dave Matthews etc. to some and Britney Spears to others. If the DJ hasn't demonstrated a thorough understanding of your sister's taste, I'd provide as detailed a list as possible (and include plenty of "NO" artists and songs as well).
posted by justonegirl at 3:21 PM on January 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

i think she should provide a list of 10 or 20 songs that she feels is representative of the kind of songs she wants, and the dj ought to be able to take it from there
posted by pyramid termite at 4:46 PM on January 1, 2006

Good point by justonegirl on what "standards" means.

For how you describe "standards" I'd advise to stay closer to the Sinatra/Dean Martin (and farther away from more recent pretty lovey radio songs that are basically undanceable.)
posted by desuetude at 6:24 PM on January 1, 2006

Savage Garden, and Darren Hayes gone solo, are good places to look. Besides the typical songs (Truly Madly Deeply, I Knew I Loved You, Insatiable), they/he also have good choices from their album tracks and B-Sides. (Darren's newest So Beautiful could fit.)
posted by divabat at 8:27 PM on January 1, 2006

For my wedding, I put together a list of about a hundred "songs that almost everyone loves" (with a few extra I knew particular guests would enjoy).

I compiled the list from online DJ websites (per gimonca's suggestion), "top songs of whatever" lists, and celebrity playlists on iTunes.

Here's the result.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:32 PM on January 1, 2006

"What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong is a must.

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin' hands, sayin' "How do you do?"
They're really saying "I love you"

I hear babies cryin', I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world

(George Weiss/Bob Thiele)

posted by deborah at 2:52 PM on January 2, 2006

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