The Top 10 Songs to Kill a Party

August 10, 2009

Anyone with an iPod and an internet connection can be a DJ these days. But people seem to think that it’s a very simple skill to throw a compilation of songs together and satisfy a large group of partygoers without a single bump in the road. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It only takes one lemon of a song to ruin a perfect collective mood.

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10. Wrong Song in the Wrong Place

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There are tracks like “California Love” that you can play at a party anywhere around the world, but it would really kill the mood at a dope shindig if a large group of local Bostonians had to sit through “New York, New York” in its entirety. Playing the wrong song in the wrong city/state/country can be a very sensitive situation depending on where you are. Imagine DJing a gig in Iraq and bumping "Born in the U.S.A." or James Brown’s “Living in America.” Not the best of ideas. Although this is highly unlikely, I wouldn’t put it past a few jackasses that inhabit this nation.

By the way, “We Built This City” is okay to play in any city.

9. Overly Sexual/Sleazy

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Not all party scenarios are perfect for some dirty R. Kelly-like R&B jams dripping with sleaze and sweat. It might be good to toss in a 2 Live Crew song at the end of the night, but dropping one of these extremely dirty tracks at the wrong place and time could be a seriously awkward moment for the DJ. If played at random, songs like “Pop That P***” and “I'm F***in You Tonight” can turn the cricket orchestra on instantly. Especially if it’s in a room full of people that just don’t get it and have never had the pleasure of experiencing Trapped in the Closet or anything related to the overly sexual R&B/rap scene.

Again, this move can pay off in spades if done correctly, but I only advise true professionals to execute.

8. Tiger Beats

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With hipster culture taking over the world, being random is a very easy road to attention and fame. I have heard so many wack iPod DJs do sets filled with horrifying teenybopper songs from the ‘80s and ‘90s just to be ironic but not commit to any music they actually think is good. They would rather play “I Want It That Way” just to get a laugh. It’s funny to play NKTOB’s “Hanging Tough” to a room filled with hammered hipsters wearing the boy band’s shirt that they purchased from Urban Outfitters that same day, but the only problem is that the song sucked when it came out and still does to this day. It has nothing to do with the music and murders the entire party. Any DJ that thinks it’s a good idea to toss in random 'N Sync or Backstreet Boys pop tracks in their set needs to be hunted down Hard Target-style as soon as they press play on their Shuffle.

7. The Ironic Pop Ballad

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From Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” to Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love” there are most definitely enough of these songs to go around, but they should be used with extreme caution. The thing I could never understand is how a DJ doing a really solid job on the decks would throw one of these songs in the mix just to be ironic and jeopardize his entire set. It’s funny for about 4 ½ seconds, but then reality sets in and the awkwardness spreads around the room like the plague. It’s one of those ideas you have in your head that seems to be so genius at its conception, but it totally backfires when you see the faces of the people go dead on the dance floor. There is a time and a place for “Nothing Compares 2 U,” but I don’t think it’s when you’re trying to keep the asses moving.

6. Gloomy Tunes

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Even if you think you have the right crowd around you, playing an entire set of depressing tunes will always backfire in your face. It’s a party, so why in the hell do you want to play Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah”? Don’t be stupid. Think of others and stop trying to get emo girls wet with your sick Morrissey obsession. If you make them dance, they will come.

If you make the mistake of combining hard liquor with songs like “Perfect Day” and Gary Jules’ “Mad World,” it can only end in cult-like disaster.

5. Over-the-Top Pop

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Here’s another category that shows DJs trying to show off their random pop knowledge by playing some of the worst songs ever created by man. Stop being a random hipster ass and play some good music! Use your brain and not your DJ ego.

I was at a party once where this guy was straight up killing it, but he decided to commit turntable suicide by dropping Rednex’s "Cotton Eyed Joe." The party just stopped. I don’t care what anyone says, playing songs like “Scatman (Ski Ba Bop Ba Dop Bop)” and Cartoons DK’s “Witch Doctors” is never a good idea. What’s the point of reliving a period of musical history that should've been destroyed and forgotten forever? None.

4. Heavy Noise

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Now I’m all for blasting Slayer, Morbid Angel, and G.G. Allin out of the speakers at a balls-out beer-fueled rager, but it’s truly a select crowd that's able to endure this noise for more than two minutes. I realize that it’s impossible to satisfy everyone, but over-the-top ear-bleed-inducing noise just has a way of pissing off at least a few people in the room. Throw booze in the mix, and you’re gonna have some seriously pissed off party patrons.

Another great example I can give for this type of music is Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music.” I tried to get through this entire song and I just couldn’t pull it off. Now imagine if some asshat was trying to be "experimental" at a party and insisted on playing this 1975 noise-filled number from start to finish. It would be a total disaster. Not even Lou Reed could get through the whole thing.

3. Hardcore Techno/Gabber

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Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! More? Blau! Blau! Blau! Blau!

Unless I’m drooling in a European club off of some insane basement-made amphetamines, I don’t what to lose my collective s*** listening to this soulless garbage at a party. My unborn brother could make this crap in my father’s testicles. It’s really that easy. That’s why it seriously needs to be segregated from almost all other music released in a party setting and only played in very particular scenarios. When any DJ plays an off-the-wall gabber track, it instantly becomes the elephant in the room. Dance music like this isn’t bad. It just has a way of pissing people off like few things can.

2. Songs with the N-Bomb

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I don’t know about you, but when I rap along to hip-hop in my car I never spit the n-bomb when it flies out of the MCs mouth. Why you ask? Because I’m white and that s*** ain’t right! Now imagine playing rap jams that constantly let loose with the n-bomb at an all-Caucasian fiesta. There is nothing else in this world that can make a room full of pasty middle-American white people tighten up with guilt more than the n-bomb. This is why it may be a good idea for the disc jockey to assess the situation seriously before trying to turn a party into Snoop Dogg’s video for "Gin and Juice."

1. The Wrong Song By the Right Band

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Nothing is worse than a DJ who otherwise plays all the right bands, but somehow picks all of their worst material. It’s like DJing an ‘80s night and playing Genesis’ “I Can’t Dance” instead some of Phil Collins’ fun-loving solo stuff. Why would you even think about putting on “Best of Both Worlds” when you damn well know Diamond Dave is what most people want to hear?  You would think these people would be aware of most of the band’s material that they’re playing and have an instinct of what people want to hear by those artists. That’s what a DJ is supposed to do! It blew my mind right after Michael Jackson died that DJs all around L.A. were consistently putting down “Black or White” when MJ had at least 10 other amazing songs to choose from. “PYT” is one of the best dance/pop songs of all time and these morons are toying around with some non-Quincy garbage.

As a partygoer, nothing is more frustrating than hearing a song by a band that has a dozen better songs in their catalogue.

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