When it comes to choosing a song for your first dance as a married couple, it can be hard to know where to start. There’s so much great music out there! How can you possibly choose?
Jeff Stitely, our fearless leader here at Stitely Entertainment and an expert in the field for 25 years, has a few recommendations to help the process along.
First, he says, when considering a song, pay attention to how it makes you feel. Does it give you chills? Make you smile? Do you love the feeling you get when you hear it? If so, those are sure signs of a great song choice!
Second, pay attention to the lyrics. Do they resonate with you? Do they reflect your outlook on life, love, and/or relationships? If so, great! Looks like you’ve got a contender.
On the other hand, what if the song makes you feel great, and you love what the song has to say about life/love/relationships in the first two verses and the chorus… but then the third verse takes a left turn into darker territory? (What if the people who were so in love at the beginning of the song break up? Or what if the person’s love is unrequited? etc.)
Don’t give up on that song just yet – there are ways we can make it work!
If you’ve booked a live band, it can be as simple as changing a few words – past tense can become present tense, for example – or even omitting that last verse entirely. It’s as easy as that! If you’ve booked a DJ, it’s possible to fade the song out before that troublesome verse comes up. Either way, you have options that will help to make your first dance extra special.
Here’s a great example of how someone chose their perfect first dance song. Consider Jeff Stitely’s story:
“When I got married, I was a jazz drummer and loved all the old classic ballads. My favorite song was called “My One and Only Love”. The lyric starts with “The very thought of you makes my heart sing” and the whole song is that scrumptious in addition to being one of the most beautiful melodies ever written from that era. Maybe two other people in the country chose that song but we didn’t care about that. It is a personal choice. Check it out.”
Still need inspiration? Here’s a list of the top 10 most popular first dance songs of 2016 according to the music streaming service, Spotify:
- Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheeran)
- At Last (Etta James)
- You Are the Best Thing (Ray LaMontagne)
- All of Me (John Legend)
- A Thousand Years (Christina Perri)
- Make You Feel My Love (Adele)
- I Won’t Give Up (Jason Mraz)
- Everything (Michael Buble)
- Better Together (Jack Johnson)
- Amazed (Lonestar)
2017 has arrived, bringing with it snow, bitingly cold winds, and, of course, awards season. This past Sunday, NBC broadcast the annual Golden Globes, bringing with it a cavalcade of celebrities, and high hopes to win one of the entertainment industry’s highest honors. In particular, a little film by the name of La La Land, a musical romp reminiscent of the Golden Age movie musicals of the mid-20th century, had high hopes to bring home a record number of wins.
La La Land, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, was nominated for a grand total of seven categories, including Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, Best Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Director. By the end of the evening, the film had swept the awards and won all seven of the categories for which it was nominated. Prior to Sunday, the record for most Golden Globe wins by a film was shared by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and Midnight Express (1978), each with six wins that year. Needless to say, that record was shattered this year.
This reviewer has heard a number of people discussing whether or not these wins were well-deserved – after all, how could a romantic musical win out for best screenplay over a powerhouse film like Moonlight? And how could Emma Stone win Best Actress over Meryl Streep? In some ways, La La Land’s sweeping victory doesn’t make a lot of sense.
After two viewings of the film (one on Christmas Day, one the day after New Years), this reviewer can honestly say that not only are those wins well-deserved, they say something about the state of film and our society’s relationship to entertainment and to the ways in which we consume media.
During the golden age of movie musicals (think Singin’ in the Rain, Easter Parade, and White Christmas), movie audiences craved escape and romance, acrobatic dance routines, hummable music, and, of course, a happy ending. Stars like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Debbie Reynolds sang, danced, and romanced their ways into audiences’ hearts, and everyone went home happy. But the 1960′s brought widespread home television viewing and rock and roll into the forefront of public consciousness in a highly immediate and visual way. Showtunes and choreography fell by the wayside in favour of mop-topped teenagers with guitars and the Ed Sullivan Show. The movie musical as we knew it retreated to a distant corner of the public consciousness. In past years, it surfaced in the form of movies like Footloose, Yentl, and the ever-loved animated Disney films of the 80′s and 90′s – and more recently in movies like Once. But our dear old movie musical never achieved its former glory – even in Enchanted, which used music to make fun of the old golden age tropes, rather than uplifting them.
La La Land stands out because not only does it bring back the big production numbers, romance, and seemingly spontaneous, flawless dance routines of yesteryear, it transforms them into a work of art that is at once nostalgic and forward-thinking.
The story: a classic show-biz routine. Starry-eyed young actress meets and falls in love with a sardonic, passionate jazz musician. Both are down on their luck, but find new inspiration in one another. They talk, they sing, they dance. They are, in many ways, perfect for one another. BUT their story is not all rose petals and sunshine. Rather than committing fully to the age-old paradigm of the fluffy, happy love story, the two young protagonist’s relationship has very real difficulties, and reflects far more the reality of modern love, rather than another generation’s fantasy.
The music: at once classic Broadway and modern masterpiece. Composer Justin Hurwitz teamed up with Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote the lyrics for the film. Pasek and Paul are Off-Broadway and now Broadway veterans, and are the minds that gave us shows like Dogfight and Dear Evan Hansen, which has just moved to Broadway. The old Broadway sensibility is there – but so is a modern outlook. There is a depth and earnestness to the music that has developed over time in the Broadway sphere since the late 1960′s – far more aware of itself and aware of the underlying humanity. “City of Stars,” which won Best Original Song, is the perfect example of this. It could almost be a modern radio hit – and yet it calls upon influences from the music of composers like Cole Porter and Irving Berlin for a decidedly nostalgic flair. A near-perfect hybrid.
The performances: decidedly modern. As opposed to the old style of movie musical acting (big laughs, big fun, not a lot of subtext or character development), La La Land throws two powerful acting talents (Stone and Gosling) into an older format and asks them to do what they do best. Occasionally while singing and dancing. The result is enchanting, though in a way that makes one very aware that you are watching something different than anything you’ve seen before. Exquisitely nuanced and deeply felt, Stone and Gosling’s performances lend an incredible richness and humanity to a story that, if handled only slightly less carefully, would have been heavy-handed and insincere. (My only complaint: the singing was only so-so. Is it so hard to find actors with that kind of emotional gravity and heart that can really sing? Several alternatives come to mind…)
Overall: a stunning film. Richly visual, highly dynamic, funny, poignant, well-paced (it clocks in at 2 hours and 8 minutes, but feels like far less), and a wonderful leap into the future, rooted in a shared past. The magic of La La Land is in its deft handling of an older genre (which has a power in and of itself) within a modern context, with modern actors, creatives, and technology. We may not see another like La La Land for a long time, but the film points the way into the future – not in the sense that every film from here on out should be a musical, but in the sense that there is something to be said for listening to the past, taking what works, and taking real care in making it a work of art for the modern audience.
Join 400+ guests at the Chicago Cultural Center tomorrow evening at the IronHorse Ball to raise money for ALS research. Channel 7′s weekend sports anchor, Dionne Miller will host and emcee the event. Michael Hutchins, pianist and vocalist will play Sinatra during cocktails and Stitely’s own DJ John Norman will get the crowd dancing after the dinner and awards. Tickets are still available.