The Macarena is fine. It's these two songs that I despise.

I was asked by someone on Facebook if, as a wedding DJ,  I'm sick of the Macarena. 

Honestly, I'm not. I explained that even though I have led thousands of wedding guests in the Macarena over the years, I almost never get tired of a song that fills a dance floor with wedding guests.

When I'm not working as a DJ, I despise the Macarena, and I think that all of the songs that cause people to dance identically are stupid (including country line dancing). The purpose of dancing is not to establish military-like uniformity but to express yourself through rhythm and movement.

If you want to dance in perfect unison, audition for a musical at your local community theater. 

I like to imagine that if aliens were to land on the dance floor in the midst of a Macarena, they would determine that Earth has no intelligent life and leave immediately or vaporize us in fear that uniform dancing might spread to their planet. .  

Truthfully, however, the Macarena is almost never played anymore. If a bride and groom don't ask for it, we don't play it.

No, the songs that I despise as a DJ are the songs that clients request that never result in bodies on the dance floor. These are songs almost always requested by brides, and are often found on movie soundtracks.

The worst offenders are "I Say a Little Prayer" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." 

"I Say a Little Prayer" took off after it was featured twice in My Best Friend's Wedding, and it's been requested ever since. It doesn't matter what version of this song is requested. It never works. It's a sing-along song without an adequate beat to inspire dancing.

At best, women stand on the dance floor and sing it to each other. 

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" is essentially the same song. It's a excellent sing-along, but it's stuck somewhere between a fast song and a slow song, leaving wedding guests uncertain about how to handle it.

Usually they just head to the bar.

Both of these songs are also likely to drive most men off the dance floor, which cuts the possible dancers in half. For a song like "I Will Survive," this is fine, because women will undoubtedly dance to this song, but the same can't be said for these two songs.

Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" is similar to these songs. It's somehow become a female power anthem that is hard to dance to and usually result in women half dancing, half talking on the dance floor, waiting for the next song to arrive.

"Gold Digger" is also a song that shouldn't be played at a wedding unless ironically, both because of the lyrics and because it's also hard to dance to. 

When it comes to being a wedding DJ, the songs you want to hear in real life are very different than the songs you play for wedding guests. But as long as the dance floor is full and people are happy, I'll play just about anything with pleasure. 

Richard Marx is trapped in my head, and I didn't even know it.

My wife decided that the theme of our next Speak Up show at Infinity Music Hall in Hartford would be "Should've Known Better."

We decided this in the car on the way to New York. As she spoke the words aloud, I said, "Isn't there a song called Should've Known Better? 

And there is. It's a Richard Marx song from 1987 - almost 30 years ago.

The song never hit #1 on any billboard chart.
I've never owned a Richard Marx album.
I don't have a song by Richard Marx in my iTunes library.
I was never a Richard Marx fan. 
The song probably hasn't been played on a radio station since 1990.

And yet when Elysha played the song, I knew every single word. 

That song - one I don't partuicularly like by a musician I never particularly enjoyed - has been living in my head for almost three decades, just waiting to come out. 

Even Elysha - a woman who has more music in her head than anyone I have ever known - didn't know the lyrics to this song.

I knew every single word. 

I can't help but wonder what else is living inside my head, waiting for the moment to raise its ugly head. What other song or memory or bit of trivia is still lying dormant, as pristine as the day it was encoded into my biological hard drive, waiting for someone to ask the right question and bring it forth?

The brain is a strange thing. Capable of forgetting something you were told five seconds ago yet also able to retain enormous chunks of information over decades without any effort to maintain the integrity of the data. 

Oh, and I took a look at Richard Marx's other hit songs., I know at least six others by heart. 

Perhaps the man is simply a virus. 

Our unusually dark and strange family lullaby

About two years ago, I sat down with my infant son to rock him to sleep. Regina Spektor’s song On the Radio was running through my head, so I decided to sing it to him. He smiled and slowly fell asleep.

That same night, my three year-old daughter asked me to sing to her before bed. With On the Radio still in my head, I sang it to her as well.


Two years later, this song has become my children’s lullaby. It is the most requested song at bedtime, and my song specifically requests it by name. Both of my children know all the words, and my son will often sing it with me.

It occurs to me that this is not your usual lullaby. While the song has a slow, steady beat, the lyrics are oftentimes odd and nonsensical and cover topics that you wouldn’t expect to find in a lullaby, including:

  • Driving a hearse into a crowd of people
  • Laughing until you’re dead
  • Locating worms to increase the rate of decay
  • Being stung by a million bees
  • Diseased loved ones
  • A Guns N’ Roses song
  • Growing old
  • The end of love
  • Breathing your last breath

I anticipate many questions when our children get older.

Questions like, “What the hell were you thinking?” and “Of all the songs you could’ve chosen, why one about decay and death and worms?”

My answer will be simple:

“You liked it.”

Unnecessary repetition. Wasted opportunity.

I will never understand why songwriters repeat the first verse of a song as their third verse. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can completely ruin a song.

Lee Ann Womack’s chart topping song I Hope You Dance is a perfect example of this. It’s a beautiful song and ideal for father/daughter and mother/son dances at weddings, but for reasons I will never understand, the first and third verses of the song are identical.

It’s still a lovely song, but I’m convinced that the unnecessary repetition prevents it from becoming an all time classic.

King Harvest’s Dancing in the Moonlight suffers this same problem. Though I still like a song a lot (and my wife loves it), the first and third verses are identical. The song has managed to remain in the public conscious for almost forty years, perhaps because the repetition is a little less noticeable in this song. While the lyrics play an enormous role in Womack’s song (and are probably the song’s most defining feature), Dancing in the Moonlight is more about the song’s overall musicality. You don’t need to know the lyrics of the song in order to enjoy it. 

Also, every single rhyme in the song is an –ight rhyme. There are only so many of those words in the world.

Not only does the decision to repeat verses strike me as unnecessarily repetitive, but it also represents a lost opportunity. The songwriter and musician had a chance to say more without appearing to say too much, but when given the chance, they opted not to.

I don’t understand it.