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How to Select Great Party Music

Your party’s going good, people are showing up and not breaking anything and it’s time to put on some good tunes. You cruise over to the stereo and fiddle with the controls.
Then, something weird happens. People start mulling around, and the party starts to die. People start leaving. What did you do wrong?

The ability to choose good music for a party is a skill that many claim to have and few exhibit. However, there are a few quick rules you can observe to make sure that your party’s tunes don’t clear everyone away.

1. Don’t go too obscure. Nobody wants to jam out to a song that they’ve never heard before, even if you think that it’s really, really good. The occasional melodic song from a decent band that hasn’t gotten much exposure is of course fine, but if you put nothing but Belle and Sebastian albums on all night, people aren’t going to dig it. Keep at least 2/3rds of the music from fairly popular artists.

2. Mix it up. One style of music will likely alienate part of your crowd, so go between a few musical styles throughout the night. You never have to play country music, though, and in fact, you probably shouldn’t to begin with, unless the party is taking place in a corn field.

3. Stay upbeat. This isn’t a high school dance, it’s a damn party, and you’ll want to play music that conveys that idea. Putting “Without You” on repeat will depress everyone and make them go somewhere else.

4. Play some gay music. And by gay music, I mean “music that makes girls scream when it comes on and start dancing, especially if they’re starting to get drunk.” Guys always scoff and call this music “gay” because it’s mainly found in clubs and sounds less rocking than anything Phil Collins has ever made. But if it gets the girls into it, it gets the party up and going.

5. Take some requests. Don’t hog the stereo, let someone else pick a track or two and add it to your play list. Of course, don’t let them pick anything that violates any of these other rules, but as long as they’ve got some semblance of good taste, you might as well give them a shot.

6. Stay away from cliches. There are certain songs that have no place on a stereo anymore. The biggest offender is “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot, which was a funny song, oh, say, the first time it got played. Another repeat offender is “Sexy Back” by Justin Timberlake, but this one also qualifies as Gay Music, so it’s really a judgment call.

If you follow these general rules, your stereo should be kicking out some great tunes in no time. If all else fails, though, here’s one last tip: just throw on either Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle or Led Zeppelin II. Chances are, no matter what party you’re at, one of those albums will fly.

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