I’m an old soul, I suppose. My definition of a great party isn’t flashing lights, over-priced vodka, and a rotating cast of self-promoting DJ’s (by the way, follow me on Twitter). A great party to me consists of a gang of people crammed into an apartment or house, enough people to make the fire marshal sweat. A great party to me has so much Coors Light spilled on the floor that it’s straight-up moronic to wear a nice pair of shoes to said party. A great party to me consists of a phone plugged into cheap speakers and those cheap speakers turned up so loud that they literally shake because they can’t handle the bass.
The music at these parties generally doesn’t consist of what is regarded as good party music nowadays. I’m not going to get into the EDM thing, but that, and it’s various subgenres, is what’s considered “party music” in the year 2014. I can live with that. But damnit, if I get passed the aux cord, I’m always prepared, I have a slew of songs I’m choosing to set the place of that don’t fall under the ever-growing EDM umbrella.
Here, in no particular order, are eight of those of those songs with some bonus picks at the end. Beware: It’s a lot of mid-2000’s rap/R&B/pop.
Let’s start with the obvious one.
“Yeah” by Usher (feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris)
Producer: Lil Jon
Line everybody knows: “Take that, and rewind it back, Urrrsher got the beat to make your booty go SMACK!”
Play this if: You’re going for a middle school dance vibe, like the dances where all the girls group up on one side of the room, boys on the other. Those damn chaperones never let us grind, anyways.
Is it a stretch to call “Yeah” the greatest song ever recorded? Maybe. But it certainly belongs at the top of any iHome party playlist. Usher, who is essentially PG-rated R. Kelly, brought in Lil Jon to bring the crunk and that resulted in a number one single that ended up being the second biggest hit of the decade.
Nothing makes me happier than hearing Usher mutter “peace up, A-Town” at the beginning. Whenever I hear that I know I’m in for four minutes and ten seconds of pure nostalgic enjoyment. Though, I must say that Ludacris spending $300,000 on a pinky ring seems rather fiscally irresponsible.
Let’s stick with Lil Jon for a minute…
“Get Low” by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz (feat. Ying Yang Twins)
Producer: Lil Jon
Line everybody knows: See above gif
Play this if: You want to hear a bunch of drunk girls scream the words from above gif.
This song puts all other booty anthems to shame. This song is one of the great artistic achievements of the post-modern era. This song is so raunchy and enjoyable that if Nicki Minaj ever heard it, she’d quit music and enroll in web design courses at her local community college.
This song is so great that one time I had to pee really bad but when “Get Low” came on I had to hold it in for a few minutes to ensure I witnessed the antics that were about to unfold.
As Dave Chappelle once elegantly addressed, the basically unedited version of this song got a ton of radio play because many white people didn’t know what “skeet” meant back then.
“1, 2 Step” by Ciara (feat. Missy Elliot)
Producer: Jazze Pha
Line everybody knows: This beat is automatic, supersonic, hypnotic, funky fresh.
Play this if: You’re trying to prove to somebody that once upon a time, an artist named Ciara actually existed.
Apparently, Ciara is now 29 years old and still makes music (crazy to think she was 19 when this came out). I was not aware of this. I am aware, however, of this songs repeated-play ability. It’s a pretty simple dance song but it’s so recognizable to everyone my age that it works.
By the way, shoutout Missy. She always brings it on her guest appearances. And for someone who doesn’t necessarily have the perfect body for a hip-hop dancer, she boogies pretty hard in her videos.
“Ignition (Remix)” by R. Kelly
Producer: R. Kelly
Line everybody knows: The entire hook, it should be studied in schools, honestly.
Play this if: You need instructions on how to handle the after-party.
There’s nothing more I can say about this song other than it’s incredible how out of all of R. Kelly’s hits, this is the one that has lasted and remains the most relevant. Has anyone ever heard the original “Ignition”? Is it actually a song?
The remix has lasted because it’s catchy hook makes it a perfect iHome party song. If this comes on at a party and somebody doesn’t recognize it and immediately start singing and/or dancing, well, that says more about them than it does this song.
I can’t say for sure whether or not R. Kelly pulled the ol’ golden shower on a teenager. I can say for sure that the dude knew how to write a hook.
“SexyBack” by Justin Timberlake
Line everybody knows: I’m gonna guess it’s “I’m bringing sexy back”.
Play this if: You need to remind everyone that JT is the king of kings and nothing in the world will ever bring people as much joy as JT.
“SexyBack” was about 7 years ahead of its time and still went #1. JT and Timbaland said “twerk” on this song, TWERK! Did anybody know what twerking was in 2006, or at least anybody who would be listening to top 40 charts?
Thank god JT makes music again. Wait, JT is god, so I guess, thank JT that JT makes music again. He took a seven-year hiatus from music after FutureSex/LoveSounds (which is our generations Thriller or Purple Rain by the way), and the music industry was stuck struggling to find the next white(ish) pop star who could break down genre lines. Bruno Mars? Nope. Anyone from American Idol? Nope. Michael Tolcher? HELL NO. There is only one JT.
That’s a lie. There are, by my count, at least five different JT’s. I’ll list them since I have nothing better to do.
(1) “Disney/N*Sync JT”. (1999-2004)
(2) “Post N*Sync/pre-FutureSex/LoveSounds JT” that struggled to find the balance between what made him famous and what he really wanted to do musically By the way, JT officially exited this phase and became a badass with the whole Super Bowl thing. (2004-2005)
(3) “FutureSex/LoveSounds JT aka my favorite JT”. The hip-hop community embraced JT’s transition, and everyone forgot he was once in a boy band. (2006)
(4) “Crappy actor JT”. He was actually in The Love Guru, however, he was decent in Alpha Dog. (2007-2009).
(5) “Surprisingly good actor JT”. The Social Network, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Friends With Benefits are proof. (2010-2012ish)
(6) “Current JT aka basically the same as 2006 JT”. JT came back strong with two albums in 2013, a tour with Jay-Z, etc. (2013-present)
“Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani
Producer: The Neptunes
Line everybody knows: This song taught an entire generation how to spell “bananas”, so that one.
Play this if: You want to hear everybody make a joke about how this song taught them how to spell “banannas”. Wait a minute, damn you Gwen!
The decision to leave No Doubt was probably a wise one by Gwen Stefani. She had so much individual star power that marketing her as a band member just didn’t make sense. Her solo debut (which contains this song) was a smash hit.
As for “Hollaback Girl”, well, I’m more of a “Sweet Escape” guy myself, but this seems to be the one the masses enjoy.
“In Da Club” by 50 Cent
Producer: Dr. Dre
Line everybody knows: Go shawwwty, it’s ya birthday
Play this if: You need a song that can pump up the dance floor but also one simple enough so to allow shitty dancers like yours truly to just bounce and bob their heads a little bit.
“In Da Club” is the perfect hip-hop single. It’s got a catchy hook, some impressive rapping, and an amazing beat. If 50 would’ve been gunned down after releasing Get Rich or Die Tryin’, he’d probably be remembered with the likes of 2pac and Biggie. No joke.
Personal story: I was in like 6th grade when 50, at the peak of his fame, came to do a show in Durham, NH of all places. I begged my parents to let me go. They did not. I still haven’t forgiven them. I probably should, considering they pay my tuition and have supported me despite my constant screw ups, but I haven’t.
One of my buddies older sisters actually went to the concert and got a knife pulled on her. I thought this was the coolest thing ever in 6th grade. I would’ve done anything to get a knife pulled on me at a 50 Cent concert.
“Hey Ya!” by OutKast
Producer: André 3000
Line everybody knows: Shake it like a Polaroid picture (even though nobody knows what the hell that is)
Play this if: All these other songs fail and everyone is mad at you so you need to cheer them up.
It’s scientifically impossible to listen to “Hey Ya!” with a frown on your face. Try it, go ahead. If you have a friend who recently lost a dog or something, send them a link to this video. You’ll be doing them a major favor.
Like many artists on this list, ‘Kast probably has a few songs that could be here instead of “Hey Ya!” (most of their hits, from “ATLiens” to “Roses”, have held up), but this one is the most recognizable. It’s the most danceable. It’s probably the most innocent (though Dre manages to slip in a subtle dirty word). This isn’t anywhere near the best song the duo has released, but it’s the best fit for this list.
OutKast put the pop music industry in a stranglehold when they released Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2003. They haven’t gotten back together in the studio for an album since, and that’s a major reason why mainstream hip-hop has taken a turn for the worse.
That’s all I have, folks. There are countless songs that could be included on this list but these are what I feel are the true essentials. But here are some bonus picks:
“Party Up” by DMX
Basically anything by Beyonce
“Smack That” by Akon (feat. Eminem)
“Ayo Technology” by 50 Cent (feat. Justin Timberlake)
“Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira
“How We Do” by The Game (feat. 50 Cent)
“Gold Digger” by Kanye West
“Promiscuous” by Nelly Furtado
“Tipsy” by J-Kwon
“Lean Back” by Terror Squad