Updated: Jan 11, 2021
Ah. Song requests. Some DJ's will take them, and some won't. This blog post covers why you should take song requests from guests.
I want to start this off by saying most great DJ's prep before an event. What I mean is that we are practicing mixes, putting playlists together, and finding new songs that we feel will keep that party going. Trying new songs is all apart of what a DJ does. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But you gotta try. I actually love that 50/50 shot of playing a song I never have before.
I'll admit, sometimes I put my head down the first couple bars of a new song juuust in case people start looking at me like, "dude..what is this!".
I feel the same way about song requests. Let's take a look at a couple of options:
No Songs For You!
This is the option where the DJ flat out says, "I'm not taking requests". I think this instantly changes the vibe of the party. Now I will say that as a DJ, it is really tempting to just shut down requests. But you immediately disconnect yourself from the crowd. There's no reason for anyone to come talk to you now. I think this is a mistake.
One of the reasons I don't like playing on a stage, or being too far from the dance floor is that there is this distance that hurts the party. I want to be as close to the dance floor and people as possible. Saying no to requests does keep the drunk distant cousin away, BUT, you might find yourself alone during the night and sometimes...sometimes..that request is a total banger.
It Could Work!
Now I will make my case for taking requests. But I will start off by making a bold statement. Here it is
80% of song requests are total sh*t. Haha. Let me explain.
If the DJ is doing their job and that party is dancing and people are having fun, something happens. The guests start to think about their favorite songs and want to hear them. Which isn't a bad thing. The only problem is, no one knows that song but them.
So they wonder up to the booth.
"Hey! Can you play Melody For A Memory?"
"Uh..who sings that?"
"I don't know..Pitbull?"
*Me searching my library for Pitbull songs and nothing comes up for Melody for a Memory
It was actually sung by Hall & Oates.
So yeah, sometimes the song comin' in hot aint exactly a floor filler and the DJ doesn't play that one, but..right after him comes the Maid Of Honor. And she asks for Peacock by Katy Perry.
This is a true story.
I didn't event have that song, but she looked at me and said, "it's our college song, everyone will go crazy". Ok, but this is a phrase I all the time! It will kill, I promise!
I had this one guy say this over and over to me. I had a feeling it wouldn't, but I played it. And sure enough...the dance floor started to clear. He was running frantic to get them to stay lol. I appreciated him trying to help. At least he went down with his own ship.
I also had a couple of Aunts insist I play Hold On by Wilson Phillips...yeah..I had the same reaction you just did. It was early on in my wedding days, so I played it..for both of them. They had fun, but no one else did.
Back to Peacock. After another bridesmaid came up and requested it, I put it on. And the MOH was right. It KILLED. That's the magic that can happen with a good request. A song I never woulda played got on and everyone had fun. The truth is, every group has that one or two songs that get them fired up. And when that happens, it's a memorable moment that makes the party one to remember. It also gives the DJ big time street cred with the group, and BONUS; we take all the credit for a big banger (oh yes, I gladly will take it).
BTW- it's so important to have this conversation with your DJ before you event. If you want them to take requests, tell them. I have this talk during our final meeting. I tell the client everything I am saying here. It's good that they know that I can't play every request that comes in. Kids sometimes will hound you all night long. If you have this chat, it avoids an awkward confrontation the night of. BUT what if...
It Didn't Work
Yeah. This happens. Remember what I said earlier? The trick here is how to handle it. The DJ has to take the fall here, not the person who requested it. Hopefully the DJ won't jump on the mic and say, "we can all thank Grandpa Joe for that disaster!"
Nah, don't do that. It didn't work. It's ok, but don't play that whole song! I always have a song on deck to go just in case of this situation. I don't want to be scrambling trying to find another song while everyone goes outside. Nope. New song, boom. Keep it going.
I tell every couple I work with that they are my VIP's of the evening and if they want to hear a song, it goes on next. No waiting. I don't care if I just dropped Usher and they want some Shania..it goes on. It's their night. Plus, if they stay out and dance to it, so will everyone else.
Unless it's Creed.
Final thoughts- Does it get a little irritating when people come up one after another wanting you to play their song? Yea..a little. But that's part of the gig. And the party isn't about the DJ, it's about the guests having the best time.
Oh..and watch this...it's hilarious