First dance songs that haven’t been done to death

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 | Photography by Alexandra Roberts Photography

Not that I have anything against Etta James' “At Last” or Michael Buble's “Everything,” — they're both perfect first dance songs — but I've heard them both WAY too many times at weddings. So, combining my database of musician friends (some of whom made the list) with the Offbeat Bride editorial team's tastes, we've compiled a list of totally not overused first dance songs… from the silly, to the romantic, to the extremely controversial!

Oldies but Goodies — along the same lines of “At Last”

  • The Beach Boys “God Only Knows” (hear it)
  • Shuggie Otis' “Strawberry Letter 23” (hear it)
  • Marvin Gaye's “Let's Get it On” (hear it)
  • Otis Redding's “That's How Strong My Love Is” (hear it)
  • Van Morrison's “Sweet Thing” (hear it)
  • The Zombies' “This Will Be Our Year” (hear it)
  • The Kinks “Waterloo Sunset” (hear it)
  • Toussaint McCall's “Nothing Takes The Place Of You” (hear it)
  • Al Green's “Love and Happiness” (hear it)

Sexy Romantic

  • (Ariel's) Me'Shell Ndegéocello's “Love Song #1” (hear it)
  • Ben Folds' “The Luckiest” (hear it)
  • Peter Gabriel's “In Your Eyes” (hear it)
  • Massive Attack's “One Love” (hear it)
  • Mazzy Star's “Fade Into You” (hear it)
  • Portishead's “All Mine” (hear it)
  • Lou Reed's “Perfect Day” (hear it)

Wonky ‘n Fun

  • Adam Sandler's “I Wanna Grow Old With You” (hear it)
  • The “Family Matters” theme song “As Days Go By” (hear it)
  • Doris Day's “A Bushel And A Peck” (hear it)
  • The Velvet Underground's “I'm Sticking with You” (hear it)
  • The Band's “Cripple Creek” (hear it)
  • Toto's “Africa” (hear it)
  • Sam Hart's “Mario Kart Love Song” (hear it)
  • Rick Roll those bitches!

Indie

  • (Megan's) Pavement's “We Dance” (hear it)
  • Jon Brion's “Here We Go” (hear it)
  • Neko Case's “This Tornado Loves You” (hear it)
  • Sufan Stevens' “The Dress Looks Nice On You” (hear it)
  • Wilco “I'm the Man Who Loves You” (hear it)
  • The Cure's “Friday I'm in Love” (hear it)
  • Bright Eyes' “First Day of my Life” (hear it)
  • Nick Drake's “Northern Sky” (hear it)
  • The Pixie's “La La Love You” (hear it)

SUPER Indie

  • Bird and the Bee “My Love” (hear it)
  • Obi Best “Nothing Can Come Between Us” (you can get a free mp3 here)
  • The Moldy Peaches' “Anyone Else but You” (hear it)
  • The Mountain Goats' “No Children” (hear it) — yes, some people find this song controversial!
  • Jeff Mangum's “I Love How You Love Me” (hear it)
  • She & Him's “I Was Made For You” (hear it)
  • Captain Beefheart's “I'm Glad” (hear it)

Jazzin' — along the same lines of Michael Buble

  • Sara Gazarek's “Makes Me Feel This Way” (hear it) or her version of “You Are My Sunshine” (hear it)
  • Harry Connick Jr.'s “Come By Me” (hear it)
  • Kurt Elling's “I Feel So Smoochie” (hear it)
  • Jamie Cullum's “I Think, I Love” (hear it)
  • Renee Olstead's ” A Love That Will Last” (hear it)

Upbeat Swingin'

  • (Shrie's) Chuck Barry's “You Never Can Tell” (hear it)
  • Barry Louis Polisar's “All I Want Is You” (hear it)
  • Sly & the Family Stone's “You Can Make It If You Try” (hear it)
  • Huey “Piano” Smith's “Little Liza Jane” (hear it)

Laidback Easy-Peasy

  • Mayer Hawthorne's “Make Her Mine” (hear it)
  • Cat Power's version of “Sea of Love” (hear it)
  • Peter Gabriel's “Book of Love” (hear it)
  • Air's “Playground Love” (hear it)
  • The Fruit Bat's “When U Love Somebody” (hear it)

Dark and Romantic

  • Judas Priest's “Angel” (hear it)
  • Rammstein's “Ohne Dich” (hear it with English translation)
  • Type O Negative's “Love You to Death” (hear it)
  • Stone Temple Pilots' “Still Remains” (hear it)
  • Incubus' “Monuments and Melodies” (hear it)
  • Killswitch Engage's “My Curse” (hear it)
  • HIM's “Join Me In Death” (hear it)

Oh, you want more?

Comments on First dance songs that haven’t been done to death

  1. We’re doing “I’ll Cover You,” from Rent (hear it) — we’re both big fans of the musical, and it’s such a sweet, upbeat love song. If my fiancee liked the Magnetic Fields a little better (read: at all), we’d be doing “It’s Only Time,” which is a slow, incredibly sweet song about life-long commitment (by a gay artist, which makes it even more poignant when he sings “marry me”). (hear it)

    • We thought of “I’ll Cover You” also! We are going with “First Day of My Life” (hear it) because of sentimental value, but we’re going to use “I’ll Cover You” as our last song. Lurv!

  2. Yaaaay! We’re using Chuck Barry’s “Never Can Tell” in June! We have a whole little swing routine and moves in honor of Pulp Fiction (our favorite movie).

    • *Gasp* I love that! Awesome choice. Was planning on learning a swing routine too :).

      Now I’m thinking “Girl, you’ll be a woman soon” also from Pulp Fiction would be a good choice though. (hear it)

  3. I think you should probably take “No Children” off the list, considering it’s about a marriage ending and ending badly. Not sure even an unconventional wedding needs a song with the lyrics, “I hope you die, I hope we both die.”

    • Alyssa: Au contraire! We’ve actually had a several OBBs dance to No Children at their wedding, and were very happy with their choice. Which is why I included it!

    • We’re actually thinking of using that song. We’ve been Mountain Goats fans for a very long time, and that’s one of our favorite sing-at-the-top-of-our-lungs road trip songs.

    • This is why music is becoming the most difficult part of planning. If I simply chose my favorite songs, we’d be listening to breakup songs for hours. Some of my favorite artists have made ONLY anti -love songs! However, I’m determined to have positive vibes going so I’ve been scouring the web for love songs that don’t suck. Luckily I like a wide variety of music (just not many love songs) so there’s a lot to choose from. I passed on “No Children” and added “This Year” to our playlist – which isn’t about love, but it’s not about breaking up so, yay.

      • The Mountain Goats have this great song called “Last Man on Earth” that I think is totally wedding-appropriate. Or even something like “Going to Georgia” or “Genesis 30:30” or “Sax Rohmer #1”.

    • For the past 18 years, it’s been UB40’s version of (Can’t Help) Falling in Love With You. (hear it) I am always astonished when I don’t see that song on “Offbeat first Dance Songs” ESPECIALLY for “Whirlwind” romances (like mine! 😉

      • Oh my gosh, you and me both! I’ve got to figure out how to get a band together to do the background, but I’d like to do the vocals of “The Way I Am” and surprise my man with it for our first dance. Now that will be a serious coup if I can pull it off.

  4. Kate, Peter Gabriel wrote “The Book of Love,” covered by both The Magnetic Fields and Now It’s Overhead.

    We’re thinking Dean and Britta’s “You Turn My Head Around” (hear it) or The Band of Blacky Ranchette’s “Getting It Made.” (hear it)

    • Mz Fitz: Credit where credit’s due! The Peter Gabriel version of “The Book of Love” is actually a cover of Stephin Merritt’s original.

    • I don’t know who performed in, but my cousin had that song for her first dance song, too, and it ha a lot of meaning to them and such. They loved it!
      I know at least one verse’s inspiration came from the Biblical Samson and Delilah.

  5. “You Picked Me” by A Fine Frenzy. VERY sweet and touching, but not overdone at all! This is our song for sure! <3 (hear it)

    (Thanks for all the other ideas. I'm iPod-DJing my wedding and I'll have to add these!)

  6. I love, love, love the Mountain Goats, and I’m all for being quirky, but “No Children”?? That song is the most vicious breakup anthem of all time. “Woke Up New” might be better.

    • I think that “Woke Up New” is a super sad breakup song! I like “No Children,” I feel like even thought the couple is destructive, they will always go down together, even if it is in flames.

    • For the Mountain Goats I’d go with “Old College Try.” I LOVE that song, but we are going with Cosmo Jarvis’ “Gay Pirates” 🙂

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