It's Friday night and you're getting hyped up for that big party everyone has been talking about all week. You get fancied up (or down in many cases) and head over to whatever venue it is that happens to be providing you with the three essentials of a raucous time (good company, alcohol, and music), only to find that the playlist for the night was thrown together last minute by a former, wannabe-DJ frat guy. Buzzkill.
It's no secret that without a solid playlist, you can't have a solid fiesta. While it might be appropriate to play Avicii's "Wake Me Up" once in the night, my ears would prefer not to be blasted by three straight hours of electronic dance music. That's what raves are for. So, the next time you find yourself in a party music bind, just follow these steps to restore balance to the sonic order:
1. Mix It Up. As I mentioned above, it sucks when all the music at a party sounds the same. While you might think it's awesome that you've found the optimal fist bumping BPM, most everyone else will get sick of your jams after their arms start to feel like they're going to fall off. Incorporate different genres into your list, and maybe even go as far as finding some songs that are outside the top 40. Gasp! But, be careful because it's also important to...
2. Cater to the Theme. Themed parties are great, but if you're having a luau and playing nothing but 50 Cent and Katy Perry, we're going to have some problems. It's cool to include some, but make sure you've got some Israel Kamakawiwo'ole in there too. If you're having an 80s party, that playlist better not have anything from any other decade. It seems like a no-brainer, but more oft than not, the person in charge of the music does a half-assed job and it leads to a half-assed party, which brings me to my next point:
3. Go All Out. Music has the rare ability to bring people together, so make sure you take advantage of that. As humans, we have something programmed into our genetics that makes us go nuts when we're acting as part of a group. Set your playlist up so that the best songs come on when you know the most people will be there and tailor the order of the songs to give your crowd the best time possible. A few years ago, right when Avicii's "Levels" was getting big and everyone knew the melody, I helped throw a party where we cut the main lights (and replaced them with strobes) just as the song dropped. Every single person in the room started jumping and singing along. People might not remember that moment, but they still talk about the party.
4. Throwbacks. Continuing with the theme of mob mentality, people love to sing along to songs, especially if everyone else is also singing along. Enter throwbacks. You need to know the crowd that you'll be catering to (as you will anytime you're in charge of the music), but when you get it right, the experience is magical. Songs like "Semi-Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind, "What's My Age Again" by Blink-182, and "All Star" by Smash Mouth should resonate with almost anyone over the age of 18 and Nelly's "Ride With Me" will invoke fond memories of that awkward middle school dance for almost any Millennial. Even if you don't know the words, I guarantee you'll shout, "must be the money" with everyone else just to feel cool.
5. Make them Dance. While Juicy J was talking about money in "Bandz A Make Her Dance" the principle can be applied to your party playlist as well. It's important to choose songs that people can dance to because that's the whole point, right? Choosing to include a song like Eminem's "Rap God" might seem like a good idea, but where it shines in musical and lyrical prowess, it lacks in the ability to make me want to dance. The conclusion is simple: if you can't dance to it, keep it off your list.
Below is a playlist that will get you started. It's by no means the perfect playlist, but it should give you an idea of where to look.
Music is one of those things that has the ability to help make great moments happen. Don't let your sub-par party playlist get in the way.