Thursday, August 15, 2013

Top 5 Party Songs

Top 5 Party Songs

True story: when I was regularly churning out Top 5 lists for RVA Magazine, I submitted this one only for Tony to refuse to publish it because he said it was a list of "soccer mom" songs.  I still think he's crazy--I don't believe that soccer moms jam to The Beastie Boys and Black Flag, but what do I know?  There are some cool soccer moms out there, and if they're rocking this stuff, more power to them. 

Anyway, what follows is a look at some terrific songs about the fine art of partying.  This one seems simple enough, so let’s ditch the commentary and get right to the songs.

1)    Fight For Your Right – The Beastie Boys
This one seemed like a no-brainer to me.  I think the first time I realized precisely what a party was (birthday affairs aside) and how much I wanted to go to one was when I saw the video for this song.  This was the album that defined the fourth grade for me, and while all the girls were swooning over New Kids on the Block, all the boys in my class were getting rowdy to Licensed to Ill, an album I treasure to this day.  The fact that I was listening to songs like Fight For Your Right almost non-stop probably explains a lot of my behavior that year, but it was all in fun.  Of course it was the video that really put this song (and The Beastie Boys themselves) on the map, and at that time it was easily my favorite video that didn’t feature David Lee Roth.  In truth, both the song and the video are simple attempts to appeal to the lowest common denominator, but one can hardly deny that sometimes there’s nothing better than slumming.  What better way to kick off your Saturday night jam than by enjoying one of the bawdiest songs ever?  Let the fight begin.

2)    American Band – Grand Funk Railroad
There are two reasons I’ve spent a lot of time in various bands: first, because I love music, and secondly, because I always hoped to annihilate a hotel room one day.  Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true, but anyone who has heard American Band (which is –hopefully—everyone who enjoys rock) must admit that it sounds like fun.  What could be more entertaining than inviting some lovely ladies to your room after a big show and tearing the place down in the name of patriotism?  Things only improve if the hotel detective is “out of sight.”  Seriously, the song is a blast and Grand Funk Railroad has never sounded better.  I’m a big fan of The Guess Who, and while I’m fond of saying that Canadian act actually destroyed hotel rooms while GFR sang about it, that doesn’t change the fact that this song kicks ass.  Look for someone to find something to swing from or jump off of when you drop this song, particularly if it’s after midnight and the mood is festive.

3)    Celebration – Kool & the Gang
Put a bunch of people in a room, serve them drinks, and play this song.  Anyone who isn’t in a good mood after that little exercise probably hates to party.  There is something so joyous about this track that it is positively infectious.  Add this to the long list of songs that can immediately improve my mood under most circumstances, and also feel free to consider it one of my favorite party jams.  Once again, this is something I grew up listening to, and thus far my party mix is heavy on familiar favorites that have endured the test of time.  So far we have a song to fist pump to while chugging beers, a song that inspires mindless destruction of personal property, and now a song that will encourage your guests to dance.  Everybody’s having a good time, right?

4)    1999 – Prince
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I partied hard in 1999.  If you weren’t careful, you might have wound up with Old James in the house back then, and if you were to play this song I’m positive that guy would have done something foolish.  Also, maybe it’s nostalgia, but this song seems more appropriate to me now than it did before and during the year of the title.  Let’s be clear about something else, few artists have Prince’s ability to cut a track that will heat up your party.  Prince is amazing, and while I enjoy his soulful side, he’s at his best when he’s having a funky good time.  His 1982 album 1999 remains one of his finest efforts, and on it he provided a magnificent title track. Considering his profound body of work, this song might not rank among Prince’s finest offerings, but it is one of his best party jams. 

5)    TV Party – Black Flag
After 1999, this is the second song from 1982 to make the list.  Oddly enough, this punk classic is very similar to Fight For Your Right in many ways.  It too is a satirical ode to bad behavior, and it is also backed by a tongue-in-cheek video that elevated the song’s status.  In true punk fashion, TV Party wasn’t a smash hit, but rather a raucous jam that those in the know readily embraced while the rest of the world was down with New Wave or some such shit.  Combine this song with a six-pack of cheap beer and something substantially less than intellectually stimulating on television (wrestling would be good) and everyone should be singing along before long.  “We’ve got nothing better to do than watch TV and have a couple of brews!”  Added bonus: playing this song at your next party is somewhat akin to inviting Henry Rollins over, and that’s never a bad idea.

Hip-Hop, where are you?  I know you guys feel slighted.  And how exactly did I do a list of my Top 5 party songs without any disco finding its way into the mix?  Stunning.  Also, I’m definitely doing the time warp again, but there is something about that old time rock and roll, isn’t there?  I really wanted some outlaw country in the mix, and (Jimmy’s patented shame via transparency) Sheryl Crow’s All I Wanna Do is an old poolhall favorite of mine.  What’s a blogger to do?

I think I’ll throw a party. 

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