I’m the DJ, he’s the rapper

So here’s a weird one. This weekend I’m DJing my wife’s aunt’s 50th high school reunion.

Technically I’m not a DJ, though the wife and I DJed our friends’ wedding a bunch of years back, and as a high schooler I teamed up with Ari Pollack to form DJ Connection, our short-lived (one gig) DJ business. But I love music; love watching people respond to music; own about 4,500 songs on my laptop and have an insanely cool DJ program called djay. Plus, when my aunt called in a panic last week, saying, “I don’t think the person we have knows what he’s doing,” well, how could I say no?

I disgress. Have been debating some issues with the wife, would love a general take:

A. The attendees will be, on average, 68. Can I play songs from Thriller?

B. Are there any absolute must-play songs from the class of 1960?

C. Is there any possible way I can throw one hiphop song up there (even something like It Takes Two or Bust A Move) and not kill the mojo of the party?

D. Will people respond to Love Shack? How about September?


9 thoughts on “I’m the DJ, he’s the rapper”

  1. As a former DJ (college radio station) who has DJed a fair number of family weddings, there is one simple rule. Know your audience. It isn’t about what you want to hear, its about what they want to hear. For a 50 year reunion of the class of 1960, I’d check out lists of the top songs from 1955-1965. Very likely, most of the ladies were very much into Elvis, so he’s a must play. Some Sinatra is likely also good.

    Beyond the songs of the times, it gets a little trickier. I don’t know what kind of crowd you’ll have (soul music fans, rock music fans, hippies, conservatives, etc.), so you might feel your wife’s aunt out on that if you don’t already know. These people were in their 20’s during the 1960’s, so there’s a lot of different ways they could have turned out. I’d venture very lightly beyond the 1955-65 time frame.

    With regard to your specific questions:

    A. I’d say no to Thriller songs. Even if a few of them liked Jackson, there is likely to be more that not only did not like his music, but really don’t like the things he allegedly did.

    B. Probably Teen Angel, Only the Lonely, Puppy Love, Mack the Knife, Great Balls of Fire, The Twist, Runaway, Stand By Me, and virtually anything by Elvis.

    C. I would probably avoid hip hop, but if you can’t help yourself, go with something really vanilla, like Will Smith’s Just the Two of Us.

    D. No and doubtful.

    Have fun with it, but remember it is what they want to hear. You might even ask for some suggestions from people who will be attending and build upon that. If there will be dancing, given their age, you should probably look to more slow dance songs punctuated by the occasional Twist or some such faster dance song.

    Good luck!

  2. You’re talking about people that are about 10 years older than me.
    At my age group Thriller would be debatable, at 68 probably not a real popular hit.

    Going with my sisters taste (65 yr old) Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, etc.
    She would also be big on show tunes, Bye Bye Birdie, South Pacific, and other Rogers and Hammerstein tunes.

    Elvis is a no brainer, Bobby Darin, Brenda Lee, Ray Charles, and one of my favorite groups “The Ventures”, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIe6EU4qawk&feature=fvw.
    Dancing the Twist, and the beginning of surf music, such as Dick Dale.

    Hip Hop? No. Maybe 1 in 10,000 would enjoy it, most would not.
    Even the Doors, ZZ Top, and other later Rockers would have few fans.
    I don’t know much country but I think Chet Atkins would play well.

    Just my opinions. I’m a west coast guy. Tastes do vary by region.

  3. Bobby Darin, Jim Nabors (seriously), Elvis, maybe Sam Cooke for some soul that “anyone” can dig..and then bust out “Face Down, Ass Up”. I will also add in $10! Maybe everyone on the blog can send you $10, you’d make a killing!

  4. No Thriller. They were 40 years old when that album dropped.

    Basically, I think I’d avoid anything later than 1975, which is when these people hit their mid-30s and, if they’re like most people, probably stopped following popular music.

    Play The Bristol Stomp!

  5. What you and every wedding DJ should know, is that playing Shout will get 2/3 of a wedding/party to the dancefloor. If you don’t play Shout, people may try to fight you.

  6. I’ve been a Dj since 1986. When it was two record players and my mic was from radio shack. Do yourself a huge favor, bring your laptop or I phone with a quaternary inch output, so u can play requests that u download on the spot. Make sure u have heavy heavy Motown!
    Diana Ross
    the temptations
    the supremes
    the four tops
    Bobby Darin
    Perry cuomo
    the Beatles
    the sapphires
    the contours
    Jerry lee Lewis

    you know the drill Jeff, No HiP HOP under any circumstances.

    And hell yes u better play Shout and some chubbie checker

  7. By the way. The fresh prince Dj jazzy jeff album was dope. Best song IMHO was ” as we go. “. Had the ” impeac the president ” beat that every rap group from the 80s sampled from the Honey Drippers

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