The best (and worst!) wedding songs revealed by DJs
Wedding season is around the corner, and brides and grooms across the nation are compiling their party playlists – and, crucially, their ‘do-not-play’ lists – in the hope of throwing a bash to remember.
But while everyone wants their big day to be a hit, top wedding DJs have stepped out from behind the decks to reveal what it takes to prevent your dream night turning into a dud.
From Uptown Funk to Shape of You, some of the nation’s most beloved tunes of recent years have been singled out as ones to avoid – with many disc jockeys insisting that social media-era tunes can never compare to karaoke classics.
Herbert Holler, dubbed the ‘best DJ in New York City‘, said his most commonly rejected artists include Bruno Mars and Drake, with fresh hits failing to connect with the crowd like iconic throwbacks.
‘People have an allergic reaction to these guys – songs from pre-social media are the ones that thrive,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘Some newer songs aren’t really music, they’re made for content.’
Top wedding DJs from across America have revealed what songs need to be avoided to ensure your 2023 party is a success
Holler, who has spent over 25 years in the business, said that when it comes to getting the crowd going, ‘not much has changed’ in that time.
‘There is an unspoken sound of old records that really brings people in,’ he continued. ‘When people get drunk they still enjoy it, but when you’re at a wedding, who really wants to hear Drake?’
Philadelphia-based Gemma Sherry, owner of Luv’D Up DJs, agreed that those planning their weddings should avoid relying on brief chart toppers.
‘Particularly new songs sometimes don’t resonate on the dancefloor,’ she said. ‘People like a familiarity, and newer songs don’t have a thread through culture.’
While disagreeing that TikTok-famous songs always fall flat – insisting they often have a fun beat – Sherry countered that it is hip-hop tunes that should be left off your playlist.
‘Recent songs are a mixed bag,’ added the DJ. ‘The really popular songs of mega artists like Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé have a shelf life of inescapable popularity before they reach over-saturation and then need time to cool off before they can become part of the mix again.
‘You have to know where each song is on that journey.’
Wedding DJ Gemma Sherry told DailyMail.com that while most throwback hits remain timeless, new chart toppers often ‘don’t resonate on the dancefloor’
This perspective was echoed by East Coast DJ Kenneth Vargas of SuperMix Entertainment, who said many do-not play requests are ‘clear indications of the general public’s distaste for washed down popular music.’
‘People are craving curation,’ he added. ‘Something that speaks to their unique family and upbringing.’
Every DJ that spoke to DailyMail.com unsurprisingly revealed that R. Kelly has become universally rejected, while other artists to recently lose wedding-playlist popularity include Will Smith and Ed Sheeran.
Line Dances are also seemingly on the out with wedding parties, alongside country music and rapper Pitbull.
New song fatigue is a common complaint among wedding disc jockeys, with DJ Brent Watts of Texas-based Incredevents insisting that ‘every single song in the top 10 right now, with exception of maybe Flowers, would clear a dance floor.’
Among the most common songs mentioned as recent wedding rejects include ‘Uptown Funk’ by Bruno Mars, ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ by Justin Timberlake and ‘Fireball’ by Pitbull.
‘It seems these songs are really overplayed and no longer work like they did,’ added Watts. ‘I am not certain you have to play only classics, but you have to use a lot of them. The other problem is most of the current music is really not something you can dance to.’
New York DJ Herbert Holler said throwback classics are always a crowd pleaser, because there is an ‘unspoken sound of old records that really brings people in’
Disc jockeys named artists like Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars as some of the most surprisingly unpopular artists at weddings this year
When it comes to orchestrating the music for the big day, most DJs have horror stories of so-called ‘bridezillas’ turning their set into a nightmare.
‘One bride I remember insisted on controlling every scenario,’ recalled Holler. ‘It was just stop and start the whole way – you can’t keep switching song, you have to stay in the zone. Songs are stories, and songs have an impact on the crowd’.
Sherry insisted that while sticking to the bride’s playlist is usually crucial, one of the first weddings her company played was almost ruined by following the golden rule.
‘The bride and groom wanted goth death metal!’ she said.
‘It was one of the worst weddings because the parents of the bride looked at us like we had no idea what we were doing and didn’t know how to read the crowd.
‘Sometimes, though, we’ve learned, you need to guide couples because ideally you want all guests to have a good time and not have the family or guests think “Who is this crazy DJ?”‘
All good wedding DJs know how to work a room – and so-called ‘bridezillas’ that control every aspect of their playlist are the quickest way to clear a dancefloor
All good DJs know how to work a room – and couples who insist on a rigid set-list find themselves at odds with those who know how to give the crowd what they want.
‘One that sticks out is a bride that gave me a playlist and wanted me to play it in the exact order she gave it to me,’ said Watts.
‘None of the guests were feeling is, no one was dancing, and many requests were made for different songs. I tried to stray from the playlist one time and was quickly reprimanded for not following orders – even though it did fill the dance floor.
‘I truly believe the bride should have what she wants, but also believe a party of one is no fun. To make it a party, you really need to engage everyone there and get them dancing.
‘The dance floor is contagious once you get it going.’