Take it from a pro: you can have the best food, the best décor, the best everything at an event — but if the crowd doesn’t enjoy the music you’re playing, more than a few guests will skip out before the dessert is served.
I think some seasonal favorites will always be crowd-pleasers (Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is a new holiday classic, as far as I’m concerned) but party playlists should reflect what’s popular now, as well as the tastes of a party’s attendees.
I surveyed some of the DJs working events this holiday season for what’s currently keeping spirits high and people moving, as well as some demo-targeted and unexpected numbers to mix things up a bit.
People love to hear hits. They know them, can sing along (with or without coworkers), and feel a part of this larger thing we call pop culture. And perhaps most importantly, these songs are hits for a reason: you can dance to them.
More than one DJ named “Royals” by Lorde as a top pick. “It’s got that mix of indie and danceable vibe to it,” says DJ Nick Ferrington of Beat Train Productions http://beattrainnyc.com/, who also thinks “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say)” by Ylvis has the potential to be a real crowd pleaser. “It’s funny and people are playing it on the radio and everywhere right now.” And apparently, those songs of the summer are still going strong as temperatures drop…
“Royals” by Lorde
“What Does the Fox Say” by Ylvis
“Roar” Katy Perry
“Suit & Tie” Justin Timberlake
“Wake Me Up” Avivii
“Work B*tch” Britney Spears
“Blurred Lines” Robin Thicke
“Get Lucky” Daft Punk
For the 20- and 30-somethings
“The younger crowd wants to hear pop or classics, soul and funk,” says DJ Ray, Creative Director of Jarrell Entertainment. A bit of 90s nostalgia mixed in doesn’t hurt, either. Scratch Events’ DJ NME names “Poison” by Bel Biv DeVoe as a winner, as well as Biz Markee’s “Just a Friend.” New York-based DJ DJ Shakey also suggests indie rock dance mixes, electronic dance music and mashups, naming Vampire Weekend’s “A-Punk,” and the Calvin Harris remix of Passion Pit’s “The Reeling” as possible tracks. DJ Ray finds new takes on Motown hits work well, too.
“The Reeling” by Passion Pit; Remixed by Calvin Harris
“Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe
For the Mature Crowd
This group is probably going to have some wide-ranging tastes, as its members’ ages span anywhere from the 30s to the 50s and beyond. But generally speaking, a mix of old school hip-hop, 80s and 90s music, with some hits sprinkled in play well. DJ Shakey suggests tracks such as “Just Can’t Get Enough” by Depeche Mode and The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” while DJ NME names “It Takes Two” by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock, and Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” as good choices.
“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure
“Just Can’t Get Enough” by Depeche Mode
Oldies But Goodies and Surprise Tracks To Keep Things Interesting:
People appreciate the familiar, but they also love to be surprised. Here’s a crop of songs these DJs whip out when they want to shake things up a bit or take the crowd for a ride in the way back machine.
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston
“Wannabe” by The Spice Girls
“Wanna Be” Spice Girls
“Everybody” Backstreet Boys
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” Nirvana
“Sweet Child of Mine” Guns ‘N’ Roses
“Return of the Mack” Mark Morrison
“Freedom 90” George Michael
“Action” Terror Fabulous
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” Whitney Houston
“Temperature” Sean Paul