The Most Banned Wedding Songs List Was Released & It Might Leave You Feeling Attacked
Some songs make for great party songs: They’re popular! They’re well-known! Everyone loves them! There’s no denying the power of a great crowd-pleaser. But, as this list of the most banned wedding songs reminds us, even formerly great party songs have a natural lifespan — and these days, there are a good deal of tunes many people would love for you to keep far, far away from your big event’s reception. Just, y'know, in case you don't want your guests to look back on the big day and cringe.
The list actually isn’t new; FiveThirtyEight originally released it in July of 2017, just over a year ago. As a companion piece to their 2016 list purporting to be the “ultimate wedding playlist,” the statistics analysis site talked to more than two dozen professional DJs about almost 200 weddings, seeking to dig up information about the songs and artists newlyweds and just-marrieds deny airtime to on their big days. And since we’re deep in the midst of the 2018 wedding season right now, it’s worth revisiting — even if some of the inclusions might make you feel personally attacked.
Interestingly, the vast majority of the top 10 most banned wedding songs are line dances. With roots dating back to the ‘50s, line dancing really became A Thing during the ‘70s, although many of the most notable line dances emerged in the ’80s and ‘90s. These days, we don’t see much in the way of new line dances being developed — so maybe that’s why songs with accompanying line dances have made their way onto the Most Banned At Weddings list: They’re simply no longer popular. Times change, after all.
Truthfully, though, most of the top 10 banned songs aren’t all that surprising — but, I would argue, some of the songs further down the list are. “Single Ladies?” “Bohemian Rhapsody?” “Uptown Funk?” Do people have no souls? How can you hate Queen?
It’s one of the great mysteries in life.
In any event, you can check out the 10 most frequently prohibited wedding songs below; head on over to FiveThirtyEight for the full list.
1“The Chicken Dance”
I mean… yeah. Does anyone actively like “The Chicken Dance?” Or have we all just spent so long accepting it as an unavoidable part of large gatherings that we’ve previously failed to push back against it? Who knows. Regardless, the backlash against this song — which, by the way, dates back to the 1950s — and its accompanying dance has finally begun as couples move to ban it from being played at their wedding celebrations. It’s doubtful that anyone misses it.
2“The Cha-Cha Slide” by DJ Casper
Despite the fact that it’s been a mainstay at school dances, bar and bat mitzvahs, and other assorted events for nearly 20 years, “The Cha-Cha Slide” is apparently no longer tolerated at weddings. Sorry, DJ Casper. According to this list, there will henceforth be neither cha-cha-ing nor sliding in hotel ballrooms across the country.
3“The Macarena” by Los Del Rio
4“Cupid Shuffle” by Cupid
So, uh, funny story: My spouse and I actually did play “Cupid Shuffle” at our wedding; we asked our guests each to give us the name and artist of one song for the reception playlist, and since multiple people wrote down “Cupid Shuffle,” onto the playlist it went. I had never encountered the song or its dance before, but based on the frequency with which our guests suggested it, I assumed it was the Hot New Thing and I was just too unhip to know what it was.
Our wedding was in 2016… and I only just now discovered that “Cupid Shuffle” was released in 2007.
Apparently I am even more unhip than I thought.
5“YMCA” by the Village People
Oh, hey, guess what? “YMCA” turned 40 this year. (It was originally released in 1978 as the only single from the Village People album Cruisin’. ) Happy birthday, “YMCA!”
6“Electric Boogie” by Marcia Griffiths
Written by Neville Livingston — better known as Bunny Wailer — in 1976, it was the 1982 recording by Marcia Griffiths that shot “Electric Boogie” to fame. The dance that goes with it, however — the Electric Slide — was not developed by the songwriter or performer; the credit for that one goes to choreographer Richard “Ric” Silver, who created the dance based off of a demo recorded by Wailer in 1976. The more you know, right?
7“The Hokey Pokey”
Good. This song has no business being played at a wedding. Even if it is about 70 years old.
8“Wobble” by V.I.C.
According to Complex, it’s “unclear how much the rapper VIC had to do with the actual line dance” associated with the 2008 tune “Wobble.” In fact, the answer might be “nothing at all”; indeed, the website Line Dance Queen, which is devoted entirely to line dances, claims that the dance was actually called “Nasty Girl” originally and set to an entirely different song, “Butterball’s Posse.” Line Dance Queen also claims that a Texan by the name of Jeremy Strong paired the dance with “Wobble” in 2009. (I haven't been able to verify any of this, but it's interesting if true.)
9“Happy” by Pharrell Williams
I… actually cannot explain why “Happy” has made it onto the most banned songs list. It is a good song. It is a recent song. So… why? Maybe it’s going through a phase where people feel it’s been overplayed. Hopefully it’ll come out on the other side again soon.
10“Shout” by the Isley Brothers
Recorded and released in 1959, “Shout” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999; the Isley Brothers themselves received a Lifetime Achievement award in 2014. They were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. I’m sure “Shout” will come back into vogue for weddings again sometime in the future; after all, it’s been a mainstay for almost 60 years.
Again, you can check out the full list of most banned wedding songs over at FiveThirtyEight — although I’d also like to leave you with this: If you love the songs on this list and want to include them in your own celebration? Do it, popularity be damned. The thing to remember about planning a wedding is that just because there are popular opinions about what weddings should or shouldn’t have, be, or include doesn’t mean that your wedding has to go along with those popular opinions. Plan the wedding you and your partner want to have for yourselves — even if it means the DJ plays five hours of nothing but the Electric Slide.
You do you, my friends. You do you.