With a combined 48 years of experience, these guys know a thing or two about how to get a party started—and keep it going. Here, they offer their advice and share some of their favorite melodic memories.
What two pieces of advice would you give to a couple who are planning their own playlist?
Jason + James, Southern Sounds DJ: When you are picking out music, make sure to pick songs that everyone will enjoy, not just what the two of you want to hear. You have to play music that your nieces and nephews will like, as well as your friends. And you can't forget about your grandparents. Second, trust your DJ! He or she is the expert, and they know what songs work best. They are also the only ones who are actually watching the crowd and their reaction when a song comes on. They'll choose a song that is appropriate for each moment.
When planning a playlist, what two songs should be included no matter what?
Mike, Big Mike DJ: “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. It's one of those that everyone knows, and most people have a story that goes with it. As for the second, it would have to be the “Electric Slide.”
Lonn, Azalea City DJs: I'd say “The Train” by Quad City DJs. “Shout” by The Isley Brothers is always a fun song too.
Jason + James: Definitely songs by Michael Jackson and the Black Eyed Peas. “My Girl” by The Temptations is a classic. One that we personally always play that most people wouldn't even think about is the song “Grow Old With You” from the movie “The Wedding Singer.”
The bride wants a romantic first dance song, while the groom is itching for a rock ballad. What would you suggest to a couple who can't decide what they want their first dance song to be?
Torrie, Southern Sounds DJ: Do both! First play the slow song, then switch to the rock song. At the very end, go back to the slow song.
In your experience, what has been the sweetest first dance song?
Mike: “God Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts. The groom had been in an accident, and the wedding was postponed for eight months. It really stood out because the song encompassed all the couple had been through.
Lonn: One of my couples was walking through a furniture store one day when the song “Breakdown” by Jack Johnson came on overhead. They started dancing right there in the aisles of the store. This became their first dance as a married couple, and it was a hit.
Funniest or strangest first dance song?
Mike: “Dixie Chicken” by Little Feat.
Torrie: Tim McGraw to “Crank That” by Soulja Boy.
Lonn: There were two weddings where the couples put together a montage of songs like you see on YouTube. They practiced for months and never told anyone about it. When they hit the dance floor and started into the routines, the guests went crazy. It took a lot of work, but that is the way to start a life together!
Most unexpected first dance song?
Lonn: Some years ago I did a wedding at Oakleigh Mansion. The weather was terrible but we had a big tent in the yard, and the new couple were fun-loving kids. They loved the beach and Jimmy Buffett and had picked the song “Love and Luck” by Buffett. I never would have thought this would be a first dance song, but they knew every word. They danced and sang their hearts out, and it turned out to be great song for the day.
Torrie: Once we played the song “Always and Forever” and all of a sudden the entire crowd of 200 people got up and circled around the bride and groom and sang along to the entire song. They were singing so loud that we had to keep turning up the volume so you could still hear the song. It was awesome.
Uh oh, no one is dancing. What song will get everyone back out on the floor?
Mike: Anything by Michael Jackson should do the trick. If not, the “Electric Slide” is a close second.
Lonn: If you have the right crowd, the “Cupid Shuffle” or “The Cha Cha Slide” works every time. A couple of weeks ago, I got a grandmother in a wheelchair on the floor with her grandson, who was the groom. They had a grand time!
Torrie: Timing and the crowd may be even more important then the actual song. We like to get everyone on the dance floor for a big group picture so they are already there when we put on a fast song. No one wants to be the first one to dance, so if everyone is already on the dance floor for a picture, they will most likely stay for the dance. “The Wobble” by V.I.C and “Cupid Shuffle” are good songs for this.
What is the best slow song?
Lonn: In my experience, Marvin Gaye's “Let's Get It On” (the long version) is the best, hands down. I can get men to bring their ladies to the floor 100 percent of the time.
Torrie: For newer songs, “You are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne and “I'm Yours” by Jason Mraz. One of my personal favorites is “Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones. For older songs, “At Last” by Etta James and “Tupelo Honey” by Van Morrison.
What is usually the most popular song request from guests?
Mike: “Cupid Shuffle.” For many people, it’s usually the first song they think of as a dance song, so if it hasn’t been played yet, they’ll come request it.
Torrie: At the end of the night, when people have some drinks in them, they always want to hear “Don't Stop Believin'” by Journey.
Best song to end the night?
Mike: “(I’ve Had) The Time of my Life” from the movie “Dirty Dancing.”
Jason + James: “One More Time” by Daft Punk and “Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money are good ones.