Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Kick out the jams, muthaf*****!"

You know how when people are asked what kind of music they like, they usually give the big cop-out answer: "everything." It's a little misleading, because although they might appreciate different types of music, whatever they are listening to the most when that question is posed is really the answer to the question. If a person really likes "everything," their appreciation for music is constantly evolving and shifting, and Johnny and I would be no exception.

Surprisingly, that poses a problem when picking a wedding song: With so much to choose from, what do you pick as "your song," the one to best represent you both together? How do you narrow it down? How do you choose something that really fits for you both as a song by an artist you both like, a lyrical representation of both of your feelings on the relationship? How will you dance to it in front of everyone you know? And most importantly, how long is it?

With both J-cakes and myself being obsessively into music, (albeit, different types of music) I knew that choosing the music for the wedding, especially what to play as "our song," might be a little complicated. I can honestly say that I didn't envision it taking seven hours to decide, but hey, you can't plan for everything.

Long, drawn-out process or not, I kind of liked how we came to the final decision so I figured I would share the process with you. I figure, best case scenario, you consider a few songs you might have forgotten about or never thought of before and worst case scenario, you rule out 20 or so songs from the running. Either way, it works, so here's a How-to Guide for Choosing the Right Wedding Song:

Hit the Sauce. To help us get started, I started drinking. It's my personal opinion that alcohol always helps in these kinds of tough situations, so if you're reading this and trying to find a song right now, I suggest you crack the cork off your favorite wine bottle or pop open some PBR and get started.

Consider yourselves as a couple. Do you and your sweetie both like to cut a rug or does he/she get painfully shy when you're just trying to slow-dance? If you lean towards the attention whore side, you might want to consider the popular trend of fast-paced, musical montages. Get your wedding party involved and choreograph steps to the song. Capture it on video for You Tube. Have some fun with it!

Two left feet or not that into dancing? Try to choose a shorter song (less time in the spotlight) that allows you to slow dance (requires less dance talent). You could always take dance lessons somewhere to learn a few moves before the wedding. Obviously, dance studios are a good place to start looking, but you could also check for cheap dance lessons that might be happening at local colleges, universities or community centers.

Write it down. Before you even try researching songs, think about the ones that may already mean something to you and start a list. It doesn't matter if you remember the song title or the artist. Hell, if all you remember is tune and one verse, you may still be able to find it online. You might even find the lyrics are way off later, but it's nice to get started with the songs that already have meaning for you and your fiance.

Start your search engine. If "Why do birds suddenly appear" is the only verse you can remember right now, (Note: This may be a side-effect from killing off that bottle of wine) just type it in Google and see if it gets you somewhere. Once you have the title and artist for each song listed out, start searching for sites where you can read the lyrics in their entirety and music players where you can hear the whole song.

Read, Listen and Cross-off: Remember that part in the last step where I said read the lyrics in their entirety and listen to the whole song? Yeah, that's because the part of your brain that remembers the verse or chorus that might make it a perfect fit (ex. "It's a nice day for a white wedding") might have blocked out or not cared to remember the other parts ("White Wedding" by Billy Idol is actually about Idol's little sister's shotgun marriage to someone he didn't like). Take notes about what you like, what you don't like. (Hint: Write down the songs' time lengths - shown on the bottom right side of most online media players - it helps weed out the best songs later).

Honorable bad choices (for various reasons):
"Sweet Dreams" by the Eurythmics ("some of them want to abuse you)
"I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston (it's about a break up)
"Every Breath You Take" by The Polices (hey there, stalker).

Compare Notes: Once I had a decent list together, Johnny got home and cracked open another bottle of wine (yet another reason why I love him) and we went through the list side-by-side, opening up the lyrics on one screen and playing the songs on YouTube (when available) on another screen. Besides being a helpful way to get a sense of the song, it's incredibly amusing to see some of the worst music videos ever made.

Compare Votes: Once we had reviewed 20 or so different songs, we put it to a vote. No better way to choose a song between two die-hard music junkies than to put through a democratic process! To choose, we each grabbed a post it, numbered 1-3 with 1 being our top choice. In the event that we both chose the same songs, the one that was listed on closest to the top for both would be the final winner.

I sort of knew this wouldn't be an issue, but I hoped we would pick at least one song we both liked, and we did. Without giving the final pick away (cause what fun would that be?) here are some of the songs we checked out with links to the lyrics:

You're My Best Friend - Queen
Oh My Love - John Lennon
In My Life - The Beatles
And I Love Her - The Beatles
Never My Love - The Association
Into My Arms - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Ship Song - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
It's, Oh, So Quiet - Bjork
The Promise - When in Rome
Harvest Moon - Neil Young
This Magic Moment - Ben E. King & The Drifters version
This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) - Talking Heads
Perfect Day - Lou Reed
Center of Gravity - Yo La Tengo
All Day & All of the Night - The Kinks
Come Rain or Come Shine - either by Ray Charles or Billie Holiday
The Luckiest - Ben Folds
Just Like Heaven - The Cure
Close to Me - The Cure
Moon River - Frank Sinatra version
I Love How You Love Me - Camera Obscura version
I Can't Help Falling in Love with You - Elvis Presley
I Only Have Eyes for You - Art Garfunkel version
Mushaboom - Feist
Unchained Melody - The Righteous Brothers (I know, almost as over-used as "At Last" by Etta James, but so good!)

Whichever songs were awesome, but not the best fit for first dance are going to be played somewhere throughout the night. There's plenty of opportunities, with the cake cutting, anniversary song, etc.

Good luck!

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