This is another of our popular Top 10 series featuring music you should include at your wedding reception. This time, we are looking at rock n roll.
Of course, this music doesn’t have to exclusively play at your reception; you could choose a rock song to play you down the aisle. How about playing some of these tunes during your wedding breakfast? But, if you really want to get all your guests dancing and partying, there’s nothing better than rock n roll. Classic hits from across the decades reach out to all generations and bring them together on the dancefloor.
Although it was extremely difficult and arbitrary, we’ve compiled a list of the best classic rock n roll wedding songs. So, ensure you include these on your wedding playlist!
What is Rock n Roll?
Disclaimer: when starting this article, we were desperately trying to find songs labelled solely as rock n roll. The genre started so many subgenres that pretty much anything could be classed as rock n roll. However, we then discovered an amazing speech from Ice Cube:
Well said, O’Shea. Well said.
You Really Got Me – The Kinks
The Kinks didn’t receive much commercial success when they first formed in 1964, until later on that year when they released “You Really Got Me”. In fact, they actually recorded two different versions of the song, the second being the version we know today. The first was in a blues style inspired by Lead Belly and Big Bill Broonzy.
The power chords became a staple of many later songs and were popular in the hard rock movement. The lyrics, according to guitarist Dave Davies, are “a love song for street kids”. But while it may be lust-fuelled, it’s still a song about passion and should have a space on your playlist.
Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones
“Wild Horses” is attributed to the Jagger/Richards songwriting partnership. The Rolling Stones, a massively popular group, recorded this country rock song in 1969. However, it took two years before it was released. Meanwhile, Keith Richards gave a demo to the Flying Burrito Brothers’ Gram Parsons. As a result, this version came out a year before the original!
However, it was worth the wait as it is a great, slower rock song. In fact, it is Jerry Hall’s favourite of her ex-husband’s tracks. We think this song has a romantic message, although looking at the lyrics it’s hard to be sure…
Good Vibrations – Beach Boys
The making of “Good Vibrations” was a lot more complicated than immediately meets the eye and reportedly cost tens of thousands of dollars. The so-called psychedelic rock song was built from 90 hours of short musical fragments, which was later pieced together.
The band’s Brian Wilson said that he was acutely aware of “vibrations” or the connections between things. The term “good vibes” was also gaining popularity at the time. He wanted to use an Electro-Theremin, a relatively new technology, in the production.
Surely the idea of spread good vibes (and excitations) is something you may be looking for at your wedding. Although, you might want to reserve it for the dancefloor (and possibly the bedroom).
Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
This soft rock ballad would make a great choice for your first dance. After all, what could be more appropriate to play for a bride on her wedding day?
Clapton wrote the song about Pattie Boyd, who was, at the time, married to The Beatles’ George Harrison. The three were good friends but eventually Harrison and Boyd’s relationship collapsed. She left him and married Clapton instead in 1979, although they apparently remained close to the Beatle.
However, “Wonderful Tonight” is not the only song the young model and photographer inspired. She was also the basis for Clapton’s “Layla” and “Bell Bottom Blues” and The Beatles’ “I Need You”, “Love You To” and “So Sad”.
She Loves You – The Beatles
The world’s biggest band released hundreds of hits. “She Loves You” sat in the UK chart’s pole position for six weeks and in the charts for 33. In fact, it was one of the five songs that held the top five Billboard posts on 4th April 1964. Furthermore, according to BBC Radio 2, it was their best-selling single of all time. It was, like many others, attributed to the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership.
With an appropriate title and even more appropriate lyrics, this song will get gets feeling the love everywhere.
When A Man Loves A Woman – Percy Sledge
Although the lyrics could describe an uneven relationship, the emotion behind the song is clear: a man loves a woman. A lovely soulful backing makes this song perfect for a slow dance, whether that’s the bride and groom or any other couples present.
After its initial release in 1966, the song did well commercially. However, it did even better in the UK after it was featured on an advert for Levi’s in 1987. It also featured heavily in advertising for the film Platoon the same year. Later, a cover by Michael Bolton even won the artist a Grammy.
“Heroes” – David Bowie
Bowie wrote “‘Heroes’” with Brian Eno after witnessing his producer, Tony Visconti, kissing his lover at the Berlin Wall. The lyrics are from Tony’s point of view. Moreover, the song’s title, styled with quotation marks, shows some irony of the situation.
Bowie wrote, recorded and performed this song in Berlin. He played it at the Reichstag in 1987, ten years after its release, in West Germany but within earshot of East Germany. Bowie remembers the audience applauding on both sides of the wall. In fact, this song had such a big impact that many – including the German government and foreign ministry – attribute the fall of the Berlin wall to his performance; they tweeted as much after the singer’s death in 2016.
But, funnily enough, the song was not popular at release; one reviewer wrote that it “sounds weary”. However, it is now considered one of Bowie’s most popular tracks, helped by the multi-latch gating of the microphones.
Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
Is there anything more romantic than the idea of love and ambition getting you through the hard times? This is what songwriter Jon Bon Jovi said of the song, as well as shining a light on the fact that it is about a working class couple during the Reagan era. Consequently, it is a fantastic sentiment to bring to your wedding day and with an uplifting tune to boot.
The song has many different endings, from a fade out to a talk box solo. In addition, the song was first released as a hidden track on 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong. Although Jon did not like the original version, it’s a good job his bandmates turned him around. This is now the group’s signature song and has topped many “greatest songs of all time” lists.
Stand By Me – Ben E. King
For a song so timeless and entwined with Ben E King’s name, it is hard to believe that he never intended to release it himself! He wrote it for the Drifters who decided not to record it. As a result, King decided to give it a go when he had some spare studio time at the end of a session. His producers liked it and the song became synonymous with King.
However, that is not to say that his was the only version; the song has been covered over 400 times! Notably, the Drifters performed the song in 2015 just after the singer’s death. Weeks earlier, the song was inducted to the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
The lyrics follow a pattern similar to traditional religious music, from which the tune originates. Therefore, your wedding guests can certainly sing and dance along.
Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
Finally, not every song on your playlist has to relate to weddings, love, or relationships. We’re ending this list with the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Producer Roy Thomas Baker described the song as “totally insane” in how they just had fun with playing music. Hard rock and progressive rock were seen as more serious music genres, and this turned the style on its head. The track may have taken three weeks to record, but they created a piece of musical history.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” became an immediate commercial success, perhaps because listeners had never heard anything quite like it. It topped the UK singles chart for nine weeks and is the UK’s third-best-selling single of all time.
The song breaks every traditional songwriting rule, but even so many of your guests will be sure to know the tune, lyrics and changes. There is no chorus, but instead ballad, operatic and rock sections. When the band’s guitarist, Brian May, first heard what Freddie Mercury was working on, however, he knew it would be a hit. And he was right.
So, what do you think? How much do you agree with our list? Let us know your own rock n roll suggestions below! And book the music for your own wedding!