I wanted to play music I liked at my wedding, which meant no Electric Slide, no YMCA, and no call and response numbers. Consequently, The Beard and I opted to laptop DJ our own wedding. We had the equipment we needed, and we had somewhere to plug the whole setup in. After setting up a playlist, all that was left to do was listen to every single song to make sure every single one was family friendly.
You would not believe how many were crossed off the list because of cussin’ or unabashed adult themes. Songs I thought were squeaky clean turned out to be surprisingly raunchy when I listened to them with a critical ear! In the end, I think that ‘pee’ (in Spider Robinson’s Belaboring the Obvious) was the naughtiest word sung over our sound system.
Photo via The Consumerist
But one person’s inappropriate is another person’s A-OK. I was born into a very churchy, upstanding, “say-gosh-not-God” kind of family, meaning that even songs containing certain widely accepted euphemisms for sex or drugs were right off the table. On the other hand, Conor Friedersdorf of Culture11 recently examined how gangsta rap is making musical inroads at wedding receptions.
Here’s how it happened at my best friend’s wedding: the DJ spun traditional fare until an old favorite, The Limbo Rock, lured even the little kids and left-footed adults onto the dance floor. The line for the limbo stick stretched longer than the song would, so the deejay scanned his collection. What would come next?
Time ticking away, he settled on Lil John’s “Get Low”—you know, for its thematic resonance. It’s a tune whose lyrics I didn’t even realize I knew until the intro played, the twenty-somethings in the wedding party made mortified eye contact with one another, and the chorus began:
To the window, to the wall, (to dat wall)
To the sweat drop down my b**** (MY B****)
To all these b****** crawl (crawl)
Now I’m pretty sure I know what’s lurking under all those stars, and I’m pretty sure you do, too. In my opinion, it’s better to be a little overzealous when weeding out wedding tunes that will give Pastor Jeff an aneurysm, but I also strongly believe that making sure that no one is unduly offended at a wedding is just straightforward good etiquette.
Causing judgmental dingbats offense by serving brunch instead of dinner or wearing purple instead of white or marrying a dude when you’re also a dude is one thing…expecting people to dance to songs with lyrics like “See *****’s like a wound, it would never heal, the more ointment you put on then the better it feels” is another thing entirely.
I can’t say I hate it when I hear hardcore cussin’ in the songs played at a wedding reception, but I do inwardly cringe on behalf of the guests who are covering their kids ears or covering their own ears. Friedersdorf says gangsta rap is good danging music — I wouldn’t know, not being all that familiar with the genre — and that radio edits should make this a non-issue. That may be true, but I will say that I hate it when good beats are uninterrupted by annoying BEEEEPS and ridiculous overdubs. Why not just play a song that everyone from age 8 to age 80 can appreciate?
What say you? Does danceability trump lyrics, or would you rather brides and grooms keep it clean?