Hearing a song that was popular during your bar or bat mitzvah season is like traveling back in time. The first few notes creep in and you’re transported into a temple auditorium filled with sweaty 12- and 13-year-olds, the rainbow strobe lights flashing and party motivators directing your arm movements—high, middle, low, repeat—usually to a song like Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration.” But with age comes understanding: there’s actually more to play at a bar mitzvah or wedding than #1 hits from the 1980s. Our newest Friday feature finds those songs for you, condensing each week’s new music into a short list of guaranteed party hits, plus a suggested time during the party to play each of the songs. There’s never been an easier way to ensure you’ll look hip at your cousin’s nephew’s wedding next month.
Haim, “The Wire”
Who: Alana, Danielle, and Este Haim are a trio of Jewish sisters from LA who officially became Haim seven years ago. They released their debut album, Days Are Gone this week to rave reviews. We agree: these girls are The Next Big Thing.
The Song: From the opening guitar licks to the addicting bass line and independent woman lyrics, this song is an updated anthem of the Shania Twain “That Don’t Impress Me Much” variety.
The Moment: For that inevitable three minutes at every bat mitzvah when all the middle school girls run to the dance floor to jump up and down while pouring their heart and souls into singing along with a song about girls just being girls.
Who: The 16-year-old New Zealand born sing-songwriter Lorde has been making music since she was 12, and arrived on the U.S. scene as a fully-formed star with her first single, “Royals.” Like Haim, she released her debut album Pure Heroine this week.
The Song: An instant party anthem, the hand-clap beat drops and Lorde sings, “I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air.” Sounds like someone’s been to a few too many bar mitzvahs.
The Moment: That awkward moment at every party when you’ve finished the first course, but don’t know if you’re supposed to start dancing yet. The DJ plays this song and everyone knows it’s time to party.
Justin Timberlake, “Take Back the Night”
Who: The man making bar mitzvah jams since he dropped his first album with ‘N Sync in 1998.
The Song: Since Justin released his newest album, The 20/20 Experience, he’s been putting out a string of pretty corny love songs. This one’s no different, but corny loves songs are, after all, what make bar mitzvah dance floors the epicenter of awkward teenage love affairs. With a name like “Take Back The Night,” it’s an automatic party hit.
The Moment: When the bar mitzvah boy is hitting his stride, mid-party, finally ready to ask the most popular girl in school to dance.
Lauren Schwartzberg is an intern at Tablet Magazine.