Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hey, Mr. DJ: Songs on the Wedding Blacklist

They can sour a party like the coarse hair discovered in your hors d' oeuvre or the officious relative with hot onion breath.

I admit that I cringe whenever they corner me in elevators or in the bread aisle.
They left me no choice but to shun them.

The week before my wedding, I forked over the blacklist.  My husband--who wanted nothing to do with it--shook his head and deferred to me.  "You know more about this than I do," he admitted.


A child of the seventies, I celebrated most family occasions under a glittering, dizzying disco ball.  My First Holy Communion was especially memorable.  After receiving the Body of Christ for the first time, we looped around the corner to my family-owned disco:  Harpo's Lounge.  PARTIES FOR ALL OCCASIONS, boasted its salmon-colored business card. Disco Nights were Friday and Saturday.  What better venue to celebrate my newfound place at the table of God? Amen.

Between pulses of Donna Summer and the throaty Teddy Pendergrass, I boogied in a white eyelet dress and an Italian gold crucifix, managing to keep my tulle veil securely bobby-pinned to my scalp.

I may have stopped dancing in between Thelma Houston's Don't Leave Me This Way and Heatwave's Boogie Nights for a bite of lukewarm rigatoni and a sip of a flattened Shirley Temple, overpopulated with too many maraschino cherries.

I was lost.  Blissfully lost.

The perfect song could always transform and transcend the moment.
But the wrong one can, too.

A song can be a deal-breaker--hinging an experience on either the agonizing or the delightful--particularly those that involve exercise.  My muscles cease all functioning upon hearing a bar of any sweaty three-hour Meatloaf song, but somehow regain their stamina once Beyonce's Get Me Bodied is cranked up.  

If I ever run a half-marathon again, I swear I'd rather have a kick-ass playlist than electrolyte-enhanced liquids.  I may collapse from dehydration, but I'll be damned if my ipod dies. I came close to sending Mick Jagger an Edible Arrangement for getting me through the tenth mile. Without Start Me Up, I would have succumbed to a leaf-strewn sidewalk in a Pequannock, New Jersey neighborhood. A death in Asics and sweatpants. The horror.

For me, music can dampen or dazzle an event--whether it's a backyard barbecue or a ten-bridesmaid, ten-hour Italian wedding.  Once the DJ spins Phil Collins' Sussudio, it's OVER.  Follow that with Man, I Feel Like a Woman and I'm OUT.

Can I get my Chateaubriand wrapped?

I know, I know--music is subjective and everyone has their own emotional associations with songs--so I risk making enemies with some of these.  I wish I could unearth some deep-rooted explanation for my blacklist, but admittedly there is really none.  For me, these songs are simply the jumped sharks, the yellow teeth, the intrusive ringtones during during life's most solemn moments:


5.  Cotton Eyed Joe, Rednex--Forget the fact that this song is just knee-smacking annoying.  It's actually dangerous. At any given event, there is always someone who twists an ankle or collides with an aunt during this one.  You know, the great aunt who--despite having "the sugar" (diabetes)--just loaded up on Jordan Almonds and sfogliatelle at the Venetian Table. I love a dancing crowd, but this one is too much of a choreographed routine for those with hip replacements.  

4.  Celebrate, Kool and the Gang--I love Jersey City's Kool and the Gang. Really.  Open Sesame from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack is one of all-time favorites.  But this one has been overplayed, overused, overdone.  I'll never forget the wedding where the DJ made us all say the name of the bride and groom in place of "good times".  Yes, there's a party going on right here.  That's clear.  Next.

Love these Saint Laurent Paris
Suede and Patent Leather Ankle Strap Pumps.  
3.  American Pie, DonMcLean--I know this is going to offend a lot of people, but by the time this song ends, the couple is registering for the Diaper Genie.  Yes, this song is arguably well-written, but Don McLean goes on for years.  Years!  Not to mention the apt-lyrics of "This'll be the day that I die."   Slow, agonizing, depressing lifetime of a song.  Save it for a cathartic cross-country drive.  Please.

2.  The Chicken Dance--No comment.

1.  I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor-I know this is a little sacrilegious on my end, given my de facto membership in the disco culture.  This worn-out, tired song is the rally-cry for all who have had broken hearts, messy break-ups and nasty exes.  The minute it Gaynor proclaims, "At first I was afraid, I was petrified..." every off-balance bridesmaid and bouffanted lady in her polyester pants suit form an angry circle around the most recently scorned.  The wedding's energy quickly shifts from a mood of well-wishing to one of triumphant revenge. So much for everlasting love.  Yes, you will survive.  We all do. Just save it for the Bachelorette Party.

Even in life's toughest moments, my favorite music has understood me, commiserated with me, embraced me and invigorated me.  Freidrich Nietzsche was on to something when he said, "Without music, life would be a mistake."

Of course, he said that before his brain was damaged from the onslaught of Call Me Maybe eighty times a day.

C'mon, Nietzsche.  You know you had a blacklist.