Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Congratulations on your wedding! Happy Birthday! Happy Halloween! Well done for passing your exams! Welcome to the world new baby! Congrats for actually managing to buy a house!
We love celebrating. And for every party there’s got to be a party playlist. I’m not talking about that amazing mixtape you’ve made, full of the coolest current hits along with some obscure 90s dance tracks for good measure. I’m talking about those songs that you only ever hear when every person you know within a 5 mile proximity is gathered around, singing along to ‘Come On Eileen’ around the kids as if any of them have a clue what’s going on.
It’s an entire genre of music that is designed to get your family, your dad, your great aunt Betty, your distant cousin you’ve met 4 times, and the dog up and boogying. No song typifies this genre more than ‘Celebration’ by Kool & the Gang, not an objectively bad song like ‘Come On Eileen’ for instance, but have you ever heard it in any context where it hasn’t sounded really, really shit? Like that poor lady sat secretly crying into her birthday cake due to the embarrassment of everyone in a Frankie and Benny’s singing along.
This isn’t like Christmas music that if you are smart you can avoid for around 90% of the year, the party playlist can appear at any moment. Perhaps part of the worst kind of party; a surprise party! Imagine the horror on a person’s face as it dawns on them that they have to suffer through their nan dancing to ‘Come On Eileen’ and didn’t even have 6 days to psych themselves up.
It’s always the same songs, which is probably my biggest issue with the whole idea of a party playlist. From the genuinely great but overplayed stuff like ‘Good Times’, ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’, or ‘Dancing Queen’, to the downright horrific ‘Y.M.C.A’ or ‘Come On Eileen’. We’ve created an environment when someone can actively request a song by Rick Astley and not be laughed down by the DJ. How many times have you seen someone’s dad ‘hilariously’ try and recreate the Dirty Dancing lift and do his back in?
There’s the singalong stuff too. ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’, ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’, ‘Gold’, ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, and ‘Hey Jude’. Ending a party with a mass sing-along of The Beatles is such a downer, the DJ giving up attempting to play anything interesting hours ago ever since that one angry family member asked them to turn off the latest Stormzy song and play ‘Something by Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ instead.
It’s not reserved for ‘classics’ either, you’ve got ‘Party Rock Anthem’, ‘I Gotta Feeling’, ‘Just Dance’, ‘Happy’, ‘Mr Brightside’ all of which are perfectly fine out of the context of a ‘party playlist’ but seem to enrage me as part of one. ‘I love a bit of Scissor Sisters’ as that one Scissor Sisters song is playing that you could probably not even name but can mildly hum along to the ‘I don’t feel like dancing’ bit just before the 20-40 year olds leave the floor and their parents arrive to dance along to ‘Come on Eileen’.
And yes, I can hear what you’re thinking now; is this article just a thinly veiled attempt to moan about ‘Come On Eileen’ by Dexy’s Midnight Runners? And yes. You are correct. I have written an entire article designed to complain about what can only be described as the worst song of all time. Party playlists are terrible for one reason and one reason alone; they contain this monumentally shit song.
Words by Sam Atkins