Top 10 Songs to Play at a Dinner Party

Dinner PartyBefore literally everyone became obsessed with Zorbing in the mid-noughties, dinner parties used to be the go-to activity for getting to know each other better. Whether you were ready for one or not, it felt like a dinner party was always on the verge of being organised at the drop of a particularly fancy hat. This also meant that people had to be prepared with at least one playlist to accompany any last minute merrymaking.

The rise and decline in popularity of dinner parties were both sparked by "Dancing in the Moonlight", the smash hit cover released by Toploader in 2000. In fact if this top 10 list was written 15 years ago, then each song would be "Dancing in the Moonlight", you would have a "Dancing in the Moonlight" tattoo and your significant other’s pet name would be called Moonlight. By 2003, "Dancing in the Moonlight" was so incessantly played at dinner parties, it led to Toploader being considered wholly uncool. It wasn’t until 2010, after the release of Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are”, that dinner parties and dinner party playlists had the potential to be cool again.

Fast forward to 2015 and what’s clearly missing from dinner party playlists is direction. If you’re reading this and you feel as though you may be susceptible to organising a dinner party at any given moment, then for God's sake please use this as a reference for any playlist you end up putting together.

10 // Come Dine with Me Theme Tune

Two words: Killer opener. Playing this will leave your guests with no confusion as to where they are and why they’re there. At just over 20 seconds, the "Come Dine with Me theme tune" manages to say so much in such a short amount of time, although it is its brevity that stops it from appearing higher on this list. You would even be excused for playing this one several times, although don’t forget to stare deeply into the eyes of everyone at the table while doing so, this would be the defining moment of your dinner party, reminding everyone in attendance that when it comes to dinner parties, you’re Clark Kent and they’re all ‘the burden at the banquet’, Lois Lane.

9 // Jennifer Lopez – Jenny from the Block

Like Jen, despite all the great success you’ve had with dinner parties past, you’re still your good old dependable self. You’ve not let the compliments for your soufflé go to your head and if everyone hadn’t already received the hint from your open bar, playing this will show that you’re not afraid to remind everyone that success hasn’t changed you. You’re still charitable. You’re still "Jenny from the Block", a block where dinner parties are run exclusively by you, and if anyone considers throwing their own, you wouldn’t hesitate to chase them out of town. Although you would be totally humble about it.

8 // Esbjorn Svensson Trio – Round Midnight

As they say, the only thing fancier than jazz at a dinner party is a dinner party at a jazz party. Although you’re miles away from the nearest jazz party, so this is a great way of letting your guests know that your dinner party is quite literally the hottest party around for miles. You don’t even know how to sauté potatoes, but that doesn’t matter, let the jazz do the talking and the cooking.

7 // The Killers – Mr Brightside

You’re probably thinking, "What’s the anthem for secondary school disco angst doing in a list about dinner parties?" Well, it just so happens that 'secondary school disco angst' is the secret ingredient that Heston Blumenthal uses in all of his cooking. Seeing as you’re too poor to buy a jar for yourself, you can at least try to recreate the atmosphere that inspired it. Plus it makes for a good backing to the wails of Keith’s cries about his recent divorce.

6 // Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone Theme

Keith’s pretty upset by this point, so you try to cheer him up with some good old fashioned nostalgia. Keith loved Sonic the Hedgehog, and everything seems to be going well until Chris starts an argument about the SNES being better than the Sega Mega Drive. As tempers escalate, the next few minutes are a blur, and your tower of finger sandwiches end up half on the floor and half in the chocolate fountain.

5 // Fugazi – Waiting Room

The only way to get rid of the tension in the room at this point is to play a song that will completely absorb it. "Waiting Room" will do this, although this would also be the best time to serve those wheat grass shots you made using absinthe. As everyone takes their shot, a certain level of quiet is reached apart from the occasional belch from Claire, who laughs after each one saying, "I’m so sorry, I don’t usually do this, this is the first dinner party I’ve been to since 2001."

4 // Miles Davis – Pharaoh’s Dance

By their fifth shot, no one really knows where they are anymore, you try to jump back to the beginning of your playlist to the "Come Dine with Me theme tune" to remind everyone why they are where they are, but you can’t find your own glasses, let alone your CD player. The opener to Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, "Pharaoh’s Dance", plays for what seems three days, and by the time it reaches its final minute, everyone has long since forgotten the finger sandwiches in the chocolate fountain, which proceeds to become blocked before falling over and bursting into flames. As the scene unfolds before your very eyes, you remember that the only thing crazier than avant-garde jazz at a dinner party is a dinner party at an avant-garde jazz party.

3 // Jessie J – Who You Are

Everyone’s really upset by this point, Jane’s been lost in the fire and you just overheard Tina and Paul saying how much they disliked your pear tart, which hurts even more because Jane brought it and it’s not like she’s around anymore for you to point that out. Jessie sings, “It’s ok not to be ok.” which temporarily becomes everyone’s mantra.

2 // Frank Sinatra feat. Nancy Sinatra – Somethin’ Stupid

The absinthe has completely worn off by this point, and Jane is such a thing of the past that no one can even remember her surname. A warm smile adorns the face of everyone present as they stare into each other’s eyes and let Frank and Nancy remind them of what really matters, love.

1 // Toploader - Dancing in the Moonlight

HA! You’ve been absolutely David Finchered. A suggestion was made about this list of what not to expect and you bought it, when really that’s what you should have been expecting all along. Before you continue reading you should take a moment to give yourself a smack in the mouth for believing a dinner party playlist would ever be complete without "Dancing in the Moonlight". Whoever’s left at this point is free to take a goody bag from the porch, inside is lots of Toploader merch, some party bubbles and a Minion’s yoyo. As you fall back onto your futon you’ll ask yourself, ‘Why did dinner parties ever fall out of fashion?’ And thus the dinner party cycle begins again.


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