Aaaah the good old song request. One of my favourite parts of my job as a DJ. What’s better than when a guest rolls over to me and let’s me know exactly what people wanna hear right now. I mean they’re practically doing my job for me right?
However, during my experiences I have found that some guests are far better at requesting songs than others. And I’m not talking about what songs they’re requesting. In fact, left-field requests are some of my favourites because they keep me on my toes. I’m talking about the way they go about requesting said songs.
To assist you all in becoming better song requesters, I have put together this do’s and don’t’s list. To help with this list I will be using the story of “Tommy”, one of the guests I had at a wedding who really wanted to hear his song.
Here’s a little about Tommy so you can understand the situation better.
Tommy is your stereotypical loose-cannon mate at the wedding. He’s loud and outrageous but give Tommy credit: He’s managed to get through all the formalities so far without creating any disturbance. Good job Tommy! And besides, Tommy serves a very valuable role – making sure the Bride and Groom get their money’s worth out of the drinks package.
The dancefloor’s now pumping and Tommy seems to be having an awesome time. He’s around a dozen beers deep, has two more in hand and is making sure anyone who will listen knows about the time the groom passed out in the Hamo Station Hotel after they lost their 4th grade footy grand final.
But not all is well with Tommy. Underneath the surface he is a deeply troubled man. He’s a little upset that he is not a Groomsman… Not because he wanted to be a part of his friend’s special day but because he noticed that the Bridal Party can get spirits on the bar tab. Meanwhile he’s stuck picking between the two tap beers (Hahn Super Dry and Cascade Premium Light) like some sort of pleb.
To rub salt into the wound, the only other single bloke at the Wedding, his mate Scotty, IS a Groomsman. There Scotty is looking suave in his tailored groomsman suit, flirting with all the Bridesmaids, while Tommy’s rocking the same suit he wore to his school formal 10 years ago.
Tommy’s decided it’s time to put Scotty back in his place. What better way to do that then to get the DJ to play “Scotty doesn’t know“? Especially relevant since Scotty’s ex-girlfriend bailed off with her Latin dance partner, Antonio.
That gets us to our first and probably most obvious do:
How am I supposed to know to play “Scotty doesn’t know” if Tommy doesn’t tell me? I might not even know that a groomsman’s name is Scotty. And I definitely won’t know about the whole situation with his ex-girlfriend and the sexy Latin dance partner!
Now that Tommy has realised that he will need to request the song if he wants to hear it, he will need to come up with an appropriate method to transfer this information to me, the DJ.
Yell your song request from the dancefloor.
Tommy did exactly that. But was he requesting a song or just taking a quick dig at his mate, Scotty? Besides, I could barely hear what he said over the top of the pumping music. Probably not the best method.
After a quick exchange where I utilised my adept skills in sign language, I let Tommy know what he should do:
Come behind the DJ table and talk to me.
That’s right, BEHIND the DJ table not over the top of it. Not only is it a lot easier for me to hear Tommy when we don’t have to lean over the DJ table, I am also not having to keep my eye on those two beers he’s holding precariously over the top of my microphone receiver.
One thing that Tommy definitely did not do and no one should ever do at a wedding is:
Come over to request a song when you don’t know what song you’d like to request.
Alright, I get it. You’re getting pumped up, noticed a lot of other people chatting to the DJ, requesting songs, and you wanna get in on the action. Unfortunately there are far too many songs in my library for me to answer questions like “what songs have you got?” or “can I take a look at your list?”.
At least Tommy was a man on a mission and knew exactly what he wanted.
Be nice and specific about what song you are requesting.
Tommy wants “Scotty doesn’t know” not “that song from that movie… you know, the one where they go to Europe!”. If I need to decipher your song request, while that might be fun/interesting for me and I do love a challenge, it’s probably best if you gather some more info. before you approach me. Ideally you’ll know at least the song title. If not, maybe try googling what you do know because that’s exactly what I’m gonna do with whatever you tell me.
Here’s a few of my favourite ways people have requested songs from me in the past. I did turn up figuring out what songs these guys wanted eventually but I’ll leave them out so you can try to pick them yourselves. “play the song about the midnight train”, “Can you play that song that ends with ‘Smoke weed everyday’ “, “How about that one with the $50 bills”.
Just a side note: attempting to hum and/or sing the song for me is probably not going to help either. I’m sorry Shazza, those 10 Sauvvy B’s you’ve just downed are really impeding your musical talent right now. To be fair though, I have asked people to sing the song for me before. If I, or any other DJ for that matter, asks you to sing the song for them, they’re probably just taking the piss.
Luckily for me, Tommy knew the name of the song he wanted and, despite his heavy level of inebriation, managed to convey it to me effectively. Now he is waiting for me to drop it so that he can start ripping into his mate Scotty.
Expect me to play your song immediately.
Now don’t get me wrong here, it’s absolutely my intention to play every song request as soon as possible. That generally means making it the very next song. However, there are a number of scenarios which may cause me to re-think my decision to play “Scotty doesn’t know” next.
The bride is having a moment singing along to the Spice Girls with her old high school friends and has requested a tonne of other cheesy late 90s-early 2000s songs. While I do like to consider myself a DJ of the people, the Bride and Groom are still paying my bills so I better keep giving them what they want.
Uncle Al has just popped his collar and started doing his best John Travolta – Saturday Night Fever impersonation. Sometimes if a particular genre of music is getting rave results (in this case disco), I’ll have to stick with it a while longer so not to offend those who are already getting right into it.
Scotty just left the room with one of the Bridesmaids trailing a couple of steps behind. What use is playing “Scotty doesn’t know” if Scotty’s not even there for you to harass? This also applies if you’ve requested a song and then left the room yourself. So don’t go have a smoke or take a slash while you’re waiting for me to play your song. If I can’t see you, I won’t play it till you get back.
And that leads right into my final “do” for this list, which also happens to be why I will wait till I can see you before I play your request.
Get up and dance to your song!
Imagine this: our boy Tommy just requested “Scotty doesn’t know”. He’s let me know about his mate Scotty and his ex-girlfriend’s little love affair with her Latin dance partner, Antonio. He’s pointed out Scotty to me so I can see how he’s looking too-cool-for-school right now and needs a little reality check. I’m convinced I need to help Tommy administer a little social justice so I line up “Scotty doesn’t know” and let it drop…
Now Tommy’s nowhere to be found. He’s bailed from the dancefloor to go get himself another couple of schooners instead. Suddenly I’m left with Aunt Maureen (who was really enjoying that Shania Twain number I just dropped) staring from the dancefloor at me like “why on Earth is he playing this?”
If you’re going to request a song from me, you better get out there and own it. The more ludicrous your request is, the more outrageous I’m going to need your reaction to be. Skinny dude requesting “fat bottomed girls” because you noticed some exceptionally width-gifted ladies on the D-floor? You better know every word and be ready to sing it at the top of your lungs. If I’m going to stick my neck out for you, you’ve got to be ready to do the same for me.
Fortunately we all know Tommy was never going to bail on me like that. It doesn’t really take a rocket scientist to figure out what his reaction would be.
Let’s just say Scotty got his reality check and the universe was returned to equilibrium. Another good deed done by DJ Jules.
I hope this little story has improved your knowledge on song requesting. Keep it in mind next time you roll up to a wedding and don’t forget to have fun kids!