- Hello – Adele. Despite being an emotionally powerful song, this hit single off Adele’s new album is a break-up song. Substitute with her cover version of the Cure’s “Lovesong” or Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.”
- Stay With Me – Sam Smith. In this song, the emotionally tortured protagonist is a master of “one night stands” and proclaims “this ain’t love it’s clear to see, but darling, stay with me” and “deep down I know this never works, but you can lay with me so it doesn’t hurt.” Hardly appropriate wedding fare!
- You’ll Never Find a Love Like Mine – Lou Rawls. This song oozes sex appeal with Rawl’s baritone voice over a vintage piano and strings disco arrangement. However, the premise of the song is that Rawl’s former partner will never find a love as good as his post their breakup. As a substitute, try George McCrae’s “Rock Your Baby.”
- I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor. This song is about a woman’s turmoil and strength after a breakup. As a disco alternative at a similar tempo, try Cheryl Lynn’s uplifting “Got To Be Real.”
- Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones. This infectious rock n’ roll jam regrettably contains lyrics that one music critic describes as “gross, sexist and stunningly offensive to black women” – trust us, the lyrics are that bad. If you love the Stones, try “Start Me Up” or another hit song from their extensive catalog.
- Paradise by the Dashboard Light – Meatloaf. It could be a personal pet peeve of mine, but I really do not like this song. It is a time hog at over ten minutes long. One of the song’s final lyrics, “praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you” is hardly romantic. If you crave a rock and roll sing-a-long, try Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” or Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.” But if you really enjoy the theatrical aspects of this song, I say go ahead, bend the rules and have some fun!
- What’s Going On? – Marvin Gaye. If you enjoy hearing about war, picket lines and police brutality, then play this song at your wedding. Otherwise, try soulful crooner Gaye’s “Aint’ No Mountain High Enough” or super-funky “Got to Give it Up” which your DJ can then skillfully mix into Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”
- The Macarena – Los del Rio. Line dances at a wedding can be great ice breakers. However, this cheesy line dance has grown even more fungus with age. Modernize your wedding with a newer line dance such as the “Cupid Shuffle.”
- Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin is my favorite rock band of all time. Yet this anthem is hard to dance to with its long, uncomfortable breakdowns. If you must play Zeppelin at your wedding, try “All of My Love” or “Thank You.” For a beach wedding, try their hidden gem “Down by the Seaside.”
- Strokin’ – Clarence Carter. This graphic song is cringeworthy at a seedy karaoke night, let alone at a wedding. Avoid at all costs, and stick with Rick James’ “Super Freak” or “Give it to Me.”