A Crusade Against Cliche Classic Rock

Do you remember the first time you drove a car? The power was unbelievable. From the same hands and feet that you’ve been attached to for years was coming motion no longer restricted to your own immediate personal space. Now you, the same you that minutes before was being driven, was in the literal driver’s seat of a gasoline-combustion-engine whirlwind of metal and horsepower and unadulterated force. The thrill of moving that much machinery with such little effort was exhilarating. It was like riding a roller coaster for transportation. In space.

And then you started driving every day. To school, to work, to wit’s end, to wherever. And now how does it feel? Driving a car is just a necessary evil of getting from one place to another. In fact, if it were possible to go from place to place and cut the car out of it, almost everyone would take the deal. Driving a car stopped being an end unto itself and started being a cost associated with other benefits. Being behind the wheel was something you put up with for the sake of being other places. The glory faded. The shine and glitter of the whole experience had rusted and dimmed and was never coming back.

Did you stop believin? This guy has some advice for you. (My apologies if this photo is from your actual wedding)

Did you stop believin? This guy has some advice for you. (My apologies if this photo is from your actual wedding)

The same erosion of interest happens with music. The first time you hear a song, something new and pure fires up inside you and can’t get enough. And then you listen to it again. On your computer. On your phone. At work. In bed. Exercising. Working. Commuting. And slowly it becomes just another song. The repetition gradually eats at anything that was good or unique or different about that song until eventually you reach a point where it’s not even your favorite song on the radio, on that album, by that artist, etc. Depending on your rate of listening to it, the song inversely progresses toward a point of skipability until you find yourself in the same trap with some other song by some other artist. There’s a reason no one has the same favorite song for very long. Once the novelty wears off, the music still exists, but there’s nothing special left.

Last weekend, I attended something like my 12th wedding in 2013. I’ve lost track of the actual number, and that’s the point; I have been to so many weddings this year that I’ve lost count. There’s a lot that’s great about weddings: besides the obvious free drinks and the promise of true love, you have an excuse to get back together with a pocket of friends you probably haven’t seen in too long, there’s generally great food, an overwhelming sense of arriving at adulthood and even dancing if you’re into it. Unfortunately, there’s also one gigantic negative. It’s not exclusive to weddings, but it’s undeniably lurking in the shadows of matrimony and it gets exponentially worse with each one: DJs.

ProblemThe field of wedding disc jockeydom requires a very specific brand of borderline sanity, but generally the personalities are bearable. Accepting the DJ’s inappropriate excitability is something every guest comes prepared for and realistically it would be your own fault if you expected anything temperamentally different. However, For all of the eccentricity and differentness of the individual DJs, it seems like they go out of their way to conform to one unspoken rule: the same unbearable set of cliche classic rock hammer songs.

Like all evil things, this particular black list comes in a set of three:

  • Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”
  • Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”
  • Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”

The un-holy trinity of cliche classics. The 6-6-6 of songs. The three heads of a musical Cerberus patrolling the gates to a musical hell. The same damn songs that every wedding DJ plays about 75% of the way into set like no one sees it coming. Like this is what we’ve all been waiting for. Like these three songs are the pinnacle of celebration music and we better go nuts now because this is as good as it gets.

At one point, these were great songs. Then they got overplayed. Now they’re just a bloody pulp of music that no one actually enjoys anymore. These aren’t the songs of our generation. They’re the songs of our parents’ generation. Our parents’ parents’ generation even. These are the songs that we’re told are the best to play when we celebrate, but they’ve lost the power of stirring up those emotions. We never listen to them on purpose, we get them played at us when we are celebrating something else. Think about it and tell me when was the last time you listened to one of those songs intentionally without being a) at an DJed event or b) drunk.

Don’t get me wrong, those jams are miracles of songwriting that haven’t lost relevancy with age (despite having plenty of it), but whatever they had, they lost. Honestly, if I never heard those three songs again at a public event, it’ll be too late. If your creative DJ thing is to cut the music during the Bum Bum Bum of “Sweet Caroline” or the Whoas in “Livin’ on a Prayer,” you owe whoever is paying you all their money back with interest and a fee.

SolutionWe don’t have to suffer from Overplayed Cliche Rock Syndrome anymore. You can join me on this crusade. We can fight it together. You’re not the only one who secretly hates it when you realize that soft guitar intro is turning into “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Of course, no problem is worth complaining about unless you can provide a well thought-out solution. You need songs that everyone recognizes early, even if they’re hammered. You need songs that people know the words to. You need a new group of songs that have all the good qualities of the tired songs we have now. Here are my suggestions:

  • Outkast’s “Hey Ya”
  • Jay Z’s “99 Problems”
  • Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”

They’re just as catchy and not nearly as abused. Everyone still sings along. Everyone still dances. Everyone walks away saying, “You know what? Hey Ya was an awesome song!”

Of course, it wouldn’t be the SpreeGoogsy thing to offer solutions from outside our expertise. Here’s an alternative hammer set from our wheelhouse era:

  • Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know”
  • 2Pac’s “California Love”
  • BackStreet Boys’ “Everybody”

How are you going to argue with that?

What songs would you suggest to replace that cliche classic trash? Let me know in the comments.