Trapped in the Booth:
15 Songs We Never Need To Hear in the Club Again
Disclaimer: This is a semi-fictionalized version of my all-too-real experiences working as a DJ in New York City. Many of the names of venues, organizations or people mentioned herein have been changed or, in some instances, totally pulled out of my ass so stop even trying to guess, cool? Cool.
Being a DJ is an eternal thrill. You’re a superstar of the night, surrounded by an endless array of drugs, adoration and celebrities. Maybe you’re taking a casual hit with your new friend 2 Chainz. Or maybe after some questionable molly, you’re starting to believe that you, a gay, Jewish DJ from Westchester, are actually morphing into 2 Chainz.
Mostly, being a DJ is an endless upper because you’re playing a varied set of music every night, never stuck regurgitating the same tunes over and over and over again. “Please play only new artists or expose me to oldies I’ve never heard before,” white girl requesters are famous for bellowing like Sirens calling out for Odysseus.
HA! JK!! As you well know, almost everything I just said is utter poppycock. The truth about DJing is that crowds usually roll up to da club with highly defined expectations of what songs they’ll be sloppily tongueing to that night (Also, DJs only get to share a blunt with 2 Chainz, like, twice a year at very most). Indeed, every DJ knows that there’s certain tunes we’ve endured even more than our mother’s shame over our career choice.
Most of these overplayed songs are great—we’ve beaten them down largely because they make everyone toss their vodka-crans all over each other in ecstasy. Others are by Pitbull. But they’re all tracks that club-bound folk—DJs, patrons, drug dealers, pickpockets, etc—would probably be happy to never, ever hear again, or at least not until we’re knee-deep in President Sophia Grace’s second term.
So did I make a list of these songs? Why yes, yes I did. 15 of them, to be exact! Problem solver that I am, I also provided some alternatives us DJs could replace the old maids with. These stand-ins are in step with the tired horse they’re replacing but are less apt to have us, DJs, or us, innocent club-goers, pulling a Van Gogh in the middle of 1Oak. So let’s get it, shall we?
- “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz: “Dynamite” is to DJing what posting a salacious backshot is to Kim Kardashian’s Instagram—it’s a cheap and easy way to get everyone crunk. But while “Dynamite” may a perfect floor-filler, it’s also time for it to take a long nap, or at least a beauty rest until our kids find it ironic to dance to in their virtual reality pod clubs c. 2034.
Play This Instead: “Dancing With The DJ” By The Knocks, a lesser known classic that, like “Dynamite,” emotionally validates all the bad decisions you’re making in the club rn: drinking exorbitantly, dancing wildly and walking home with the sun coming up, fortunately or unfortunately with the DJ on your arm.
2. “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea feat Charli XCX: No need to rehash the whole Igloo Australia debacle of 2014. There was carnage, there was death (mostly our souls) and society may never recover. Even if we’re admitting that “Fancy” is a solid pop song which, fine, I think we can also all admit that we need a breather.
“Fancy’s” two greatest assets are its DJ Mustard-aping beat and its perfectly bratty hook sung by Charli XCX, so…
Play These Instead: “2 On” by Tinashe, DJ Mustard’s own great (read: far superior) but undervalued contribution to pop music in 2014 and “Famous” by Charli XCX, a stand-out from her excellent sophomore album, Sucker, with shades of “Fancy” in the hook.
3. “Levels” by Avicii: I’d like to share a little anecdote. Last year, my birthday fell on a Saturday and my family threw me a little celebratory dinner before I had to go spin. As I was getting up to leave the table, my 14-year-old cousin, who’s never been anywhere near a nightclub, turns to me completely stone-faced, and says, “Good luck tonight, Louie. Don’t Play ‘Levels.’”
Play This Instead: “Superlove” by Avicii and Lenny Kravitz hits many of the same notes as “Levels” and, while perhaps not quite as accomplished, features a sexy mid-song appearance by Lenny whose voice is as luscious as this oversized scarf.
4. “Yeah!” by Usher feat. Ludacris and Lil Jon: No! Also, “Goodies” has always been the far superior Lil Jon confection from the early 2000s era. Yeah, I said it (pun probably intended).
5. “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey: I’ve stopped believing. We’ve all stopped believing.
Play This Instead: “Who’s Crying Now” by Journey, The oft-forgotten bigger Journey hit of 1981 that didn’t get prime placement in The Sopranos finale because the world isn’t a fair place.
6. “Niggas in Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West: This was great fun while it lasted—it even made post-retirement Jay-Z sound vital again. We balled so hard, that shit was cray. We Mary-Kated AND Ashleyed! It was provocative, it got the people going, etc.
But somewhere along the line, like many towering rap anthems before it, this went from cutting-edge stomper to frat-house anthem and that’s where we draw the line. So here we stand, sadly sacrificing the limp body of this former Olympian at the dark, dank altar of Kappa Sigma Gamma. We’ll always think of skating to this one song, one song only, but for now we skate no longer.
Play This Instead: “Who Gon Stop Me?” by Jay-Z and Kanye West, secretly the most majestic banger off Watch the Throne.
7. “Teach Me How to Dougie” by Cali Swag District: If you haven’t learned by now, you’ll never learn, white boy.
Play This Instead: “Throw Some Mo” by Rae Sremmurd feat. Nicki Minaj, because what it may lack in a defined dance move, it certainly makes up for by bringing out the beautiful and confident stripper who lives inside all of us.
8. “Hey Ya” by OutKast: Hey All Beyonces and Lucy Lius! You know that moment where you’ve shaken a polaroid picture a little too hard?
Play This Instead: “B.O.B.” by OutKast. Confession Corner: It’s secretly my greatest professional aspiration to lead a club-wide chant of “B.O.B.’s” delirious breakdown, “Power Music, Electric Revival!” But it’ll probably never happen because everyone only likes “Hey Ya.” “Hey Ya” is great, but “B.O.B.” is G.O.A.T. TBH.
9. “Timber” by Pitbull feat Ke$ha: It’s going down. I’m yelling “Timber!” An oak tree comes crashing down in the forest. It lands directly on this song and fatally mangles it, silencing its hellish witch cries once and for all. Members of what used to be civilization peek out from their makeshift hovels, tentatively inspecting the world around them. It slowly dawns on them that they are finally free. They leap from their holes! A swelling Danny Elfman score plays from nowhere in particular! Cheers erupt from around the globe! “It’s over! Our nightmare is finally over,” the masses shriek in delight!
Play This Instead: Literally Anything Else.
10. “Ignition (Remix)” by R. Kelly: “Ignition (Remix)” is like your long-term partner who you really do love, but like, you need some air, ya know? You’ve spent way too much time giving that “toot toot” and hearing that “beep beep,” and now you need to go on a extended yoga retreat with your girlfriends to get some perspective. It’s just a little breather, some space to think. Also, Kelz is probs into child porn ☹
Play This Instead: Trick Daddy “I’m a Thug,” a bouncy hit with a sing-songy chorus from the same era that everyone always forgets is “like, my favorite song ever, omgggg!!!!”
11. “Shots” by LMFAO feat Lil Jon: 1. SHOUTING!!!!!!! 2. I mean you’re already getting shitty in a dark sweaty room at 3AM. Did you really need this extra encouragement screeched into your eardrum?
Play This Instead: “Let Me See The Booty” by The Dream feat. Lil Jon, a grossly under-appreciated yet far superior Lil Jon-aided ode to debauchery.
12. “We Found Love” by Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris: Guys, I think it’s time. All good things come to end and we’ll find love in hopeless place again, some day.
A theory: Maybe, just maybe, if we club-rats stop relying so heavily on “WFL,” Rih will come through with her new album cuz that’s what we really need when you think about it. Like, ASAP @badgalriri cuz we’re drowning out here with only a moldy, deteriorating, infected log of “Timber” to float on.
13. Any Remix of “Sandstorm” by Darude: This is the song that keeps on giving…. us shitty remixes even 15+ years after its release. The sand has settled. The desert is dry and barren. We’re moving on.
Play This Instead: “Sandstorm” by Darude cuz if you have to go this route, just play the original. It’s by far the best iteration.
14. “Jump Around” by House of Pain: The best part of “Jump Around” is the scene in Mrs. Doubtfire where Robin Williams dances to it with his son on the dining room table. But Mrs. Doubtfire came out in 1993 and our knees aren’t what they were 20 years ago.
Play This Instead: “Feel So Good” by Mase, the greatest song of all time, followed by “Ain’t No Fun (If The Homies Can’t Have None)” by Snoop Dogg, hip-hop’s signature ode to a superfun homoerotic gangbang.
15. “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z feat Alicia Keys: “Empire State of Mind” is the Facebook of songs—something my friends and I connected on six years ago but is now mainly enjoyed by my Aunt after a glass of Pinot Grigio.
Play This Instead: “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra, which, despite being overplayed for almost 50 years now, is somehow still less tired than “Empire State of Mind.”
Whew! I could go on and on and on. We DJs really do play a lot of songs a lot of times in the club! I didn’t even get to “Blurred Lines” or “Poison” or “Return of the Mack” or “In Da Club.” Thank god for sequels, right?
So what do you think? Am I totally off base on any of these? Are there some crucial (Black Eyed Peas) songs that I missed? Let me know which songs you’d personally like to euthanize and let’s all commit, right here and now, to move towards a better, “Timber”-less future in nightlife! I think that’s our right as Americans, don’t you? To never hear “Timber” again? I think so.
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