Parent dances can be truly beautiful. At the same time they can also be truly cringe-worthy. You want yours to be the former.
Choosing the right songs here is often one of the hardest decisions, namely because it involves so many people with widely varying tastes and opinions of what this moment should be. For example, while you took an entire evening to compile a list of well-thought-out song choices that completely symbolize your relationship with your mom though the years, she still unequivocally wants your parent dance to be Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings"...
Blame it on us being picky Millennials, but I believe no bride nor groom should ever have to endure dancing with their respective parent to Wind Beneath My Wings! This week's blog is devoted to finding songs that are common ground between you, otherwise known as your life raft in a sea of lameness and cheese.
Remember, you only win if you can get them on board, so throw out those Radiohead B-Sides right now (seriously wishful thinking on your part...your mom hated Radiohead then and hates them now more than ever.) Think of the songs that played in the background while you grew up, songs that tell your story together, songs that fill both of your spirits with joy. And never ever under any circumstance let that song be Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My WIngs"!
We know this won't be an easy sell, so we included a few great talking points with each song to help you get your parents on board.
SWEET CHILD OF MINE - Guns N Roses
There are a ton of versions of this song, Sheryl Crow's being the most popular acoustic version. The lyrics are mostly on point if you make a point of half-listening to the verses. The chorus makes it work every single time. A great choice if you prefer an "Axl Rose Shuffle" to actual slow-dancing.
WILDFLOWERS - Tom Petty
A song about life and love, it is just a perfect choice for anyone that happens to be familiar with this tune. Pianos and soft guitars that sound like actual wildflowers blooming, it invokes happy memories without being overtly-sentimental.
UNFORGETTABLE - Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole
This jazz classic was re-recorded with Natalie Cole singing along with her dad's original recording as a tribute. There is some serious magic here with this talented daddy/daughter duo singing together about their mutual unforgettable-ness.
OVER THE RAINBOW/WONDERFUL WORLD- Israel Kamakawiwoole
This ukulele-led Hawaiian version of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" and "Wonderful World" is a wonderful substitution for their cheesier originals. Louis Armstrong's original version of the latter is still an option for those that happen to love it, but the magic of this happy tropical version wins for us
FATHER AND DAUGHTER - Paul Simon
This is perfect for anyone whose dad is getting all caught up in mushy country lyrics. It is the ultimate compromise as while Paul Simon was an old man when he wrote and recorded this in 2002, it is so much better than any other sappy country song like "I Loved Her First" or "My Wish", but has similar heart-touching lyrics, creatively strung together in a way only Paul Simon would think of.
ISN'T SHE LOVELY - Stevie Wonder
This song was written to celebrate the birth of Stevie's daughter Aisha. The intention of the the words is what makes this one so nice for daddies and daughters as Stevie's words echo the sentiment of so many dads from the moment their daughters are born. Perfect, Precious and Wonderful. This song is a joyous celebration and just fits in so nicely.
MY GIRL - The Temptations
Even though this song is super obvious, it is still a brilliant choice. A mix of having lovely endearing words and an awesome classic sound, it is also a perfect choice based on its non-demanding tempo, allowing you to skip back and forth at a fun, comfortable (not-weird) pace.
SOMEONE LIKE YOU - Van Morrison
While the Rod Stewart's popular cover version of this song can border on being a little froofy (yes, I wrote froofy) Van Morrison's original recording streams with gentle honesty. Simple quiet words sung in an introspective way is what makes Van Morrison so great and will make your dance great too.
YOUR SONG - Elton John
Any parent who is a child of the 70s has a soft spot for Elton John, this being one of his very best. You can also substitute CAN YOU FEEL THE LOVE TONIGHT from THE LION KING, although I have heard mixed reviews on this one. Both are about life and love and Elton John's 5 decade career helps bridge the gap between generations either way.
GOD ONLY KNOWS - The Beach Boys
I'm not going to lie, Brian Wilson's lyrics are super weird in this song. And I'm not sure I even entirely like it as it leaves me with a weird happy/sad feeling (like I was lying in bed, just like Brian Wilson did.) But it was so good at the end of Love Actually, making moments feel big and beautiful, so it made the list.
FOREVER YOUNG - Rod Stewart
I must admit that I didn't realize this was a cover (evidently with Rod Stewart they are almost all cover songs.) I love this version though in all of its unapologetic 80s cheesy majesty. For anyone that is a Bob Dylan fan you will likely prefer his original version (everyone else be warned that you will hate it as it is kind of a jumble, even by Dylan's standards.)
WILD WORLD - Cat Stevens
This one feels like advice given from a parent to a child, so quite fitting for a parent dance. It is kind of a bitter-sweet song, but the soft way that Cat sings it makes it seem hopeful and reassuring. I also like that this song feels like having afternoon tea. Also that Cat Steven's name is Cat. That's neat too.
YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE - Alan O'Byrant
For anyone that has some country roots, this song is such a nice tribute to simpler times. The Johnny Cash version is super popular too, although a bit more depressing, which is why this version got our vote. This one was featured in George Clooney's Old Timey movie, "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" which also has many other nice selections if you feel like digging.
HERE COMES THE SUN - The Beatles
There is a very good chance you can sell your parents on a Beatles song, and this is one of the most on point. It is another song about hope, sunrises, Sunday mornings and happiness. Plus it also has a nice up-tempo feel so you can come up with your own dance steps.
IN MY LIFE - The Beatles
On the subject of The Beatles this is another of their classics that fits more often than not. It isn't quite as much fun as Here Comes The Sun, so better saved for when you would like a more serious family moment.
GOOD MOTHER - Jann Arden
This was the song I picked for the dance with my mom, indeed she is a great mother! We landed on this one as she has been a huge fan of Jann Arden's since the 90s. So much truth in these words sung with the honest conviction of Arden's uniquely Canadian sweet & sour voice.
WHEN YOU NEED ME - Bruce Springsteen
Yes, Bruce had to make the list. For anyone searching for the perfect Springsteen song to commemorate your family's commitment to The Boss over the years, this is likely it. Feel free to replace with your favourite be it Glory Days, Born To Run or otherwise, but this one is the most slow-dancey and heartfelt of the selections we could find. Do feel free to go "Dancing In The Dark" instead, but know that everyone will absolutely be expecting tight jeans and 80s flare. Typically though I like to save the epic moves for the dance and let this moment be heartfelt as those moments in life are just harder to come by.
HOW WILL I KNOW - Whitney Houston - One of our favourite parent dance moments we remember is from a bride and her mom as it was just the two of them growing up. This was a song they would dance to at night together all the time, so made for the perfect parent dance for the two of them to rock out together reminiscing of good times past.
STAND BY ME - Ben E. King
In the true classics department this song has timeless appeal. For those times when you can't quite place exactly what emotion you are going for, this song is ideal as it pretty much covers them all. Be prepared for your guests to clap along and pull out their lighters.
DIAMONDS ON THE SOLES OF HER SHOES - Paul Simon
Perhaps it is because Paul Simon is a total dad himself, a lot of his songs really work for parent dances. That eternal paternal wisdom he is passing through this lyrics. This was a favourite of ours we performed a little while back and still love. The original features a the warm sounds of horns and happy African singers, who could ask for more.
ONE MORE HOT TIP
Be brave and choose the song that means a little bit more between the two of you. We promise that if you go digging, the answer should be more obvious than you first thought. The perfect song may not exist, but if you can find one that takes you and your parent down memory lane with a smile on your face and a tear in their eye, there is truly nothing better. Happy searching everyone!
A FEW MORE SONG IDEAS
While the songs above are our favourites, we still have lots of other suggestions to share that you might find helpful. Here is a list of the leftovers:
JUST WHAT I NEEDED - The Cars
YOU'RE MY BEST FRIEND - Queen
YOU MAKE MY DREAMS COME TRUE - Hall & Oates
HERE FOR YOU - Neil Young
WILD HORSES - Rolling Stones
TURN TURN TURN - The Byrds
CHILD OF MINE - Carole King
YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND - James Taylor
JUST THE WAY YOU ARE - Billy Joel
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE - The Beatles
TIME AFTER TIME - Cyndi Lauper
I'LL BE THERE - Jackson 5
SONGBIRD - Fleetwood Mac
LANDSLIDE - Fleetwood Mac
EDELWEISS - The Sound of Music
RAINBOW CONNECTION - Kermit The Frog
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN - Crosby, Stills & Nash
MY DARLING - Wilco
COUNT ON ME - Bruno Mars
LEAN ON ME - Bill Withers
THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND - Golden Girls
Did we forget one of your favourites? EMAIL US and we will add it to the list!
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