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As anyone who has ever been to a wedding can tell you, music can truly make or break a couple’s big day. A well thought out playlist can be the difference between the reception being a total snoozefest or the most fun Aunt Jenny has had since 1983. In an effort to prevent the latter, many couples give their DJs a “do not play” list which is exactly what it sounds like — a list of songs that are banned from the wedding. Culture, politics, and news blog FiveThirtyEight found that many of the same songs show up on “do not play” lists across the country and honestly, we agree with most of the selections.
Hickey collected testimonies from about 200 professional DJs in order to compile the ultimate banned wedding song list. The top 10 songs are, in our opinion, absolutely worth banning — “Chicken Dance,” “Cha-Cha Slide,” and the “Macarena” are in the top three slots, being banned from around 20% of weddings.
Judging by this list, the kinds of songs that have “dictated choreography,” as FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey calls them, are seemingly viewed as more suited for high school dances than wedding receptions. Let’s be real — whether you’re the bride or the Homecoming Queen, the “Cotton Eyed Joe” dance isn’t really a good look on anyone.
New Jersey DJ Gregg Hollmann told FiveThirtyEight via email that some songs “are perceived as overplayed, cliché and perhaps cheesy.” He said that many couples he’s worked with want to be unique which is why Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” and even John Legend’s “All of Me” often get the boot.
And unsurprisingly, DJs are often told that songs with inappropriate lyrics are off limits. Great-Grandma Mabel cannot be exposed to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” or Nelly’s “Hot In Herre.”
Worst Wedding Nightmare Playlist: These songs in reverse order like a countdown. The couple drives off in a car with "The Chicken Dance" sending them off on their lives together.— J0N DVB0S (@sometimesJon) July 21, 2018
Some couples even nix certain artists altogether. Justin Bieber, for example, was banned from 6% of weddings, FiveThirtyEight found while conducting their research. Rihanna, Backstreet Boys, and Rick James often had their wedding invites revoked as well. And other couples went as far as banning entire genres from their reception playlists. The site found that country music was banned from 10% of weddings and 3% of couples gave their DJs a strict no-rap rule.
When FiveThirtyEight posted their results to Twitter, many people had thoughts — us included. For instance, we’re a bit confused as to why ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” made the list. That song is proven to get butts out of seats and make every single person on the dance floor feel like an instant star.
Others had a bone to pick with those who banned “Shout” by the Isley Brothers and “Love Shack” by the B-52’s. We suppose it all comes down to taste and aesthetic.
If you ban Love Shack, why even bother with the wedding? You both hate love and aren’t going to make it anyway.— Ricky Sirois (@switzy227) July 21, 2018
What unholy union of Mondays would ever ban Shout?!— Dennis Jordan (@DennisJordan77) July 21, 2018
But, like, really? No “Dancing Queen?” There’s no good excuse for that decision.
If you ban Love Shack and Dancing Queen you hate all that is good and nice in the world and I don't want to go to your wedding anyway.— Holly Feeney (@Hollyfeeney13) July 24, 2018
Of course, personal preference plays a huge part in deciding which songs are added to one’s own banned list. If “Chicken Dance” happens to be your all-time fave song, it’s your wedding and you deserve to shake your tailfeather however you see fit.