The Definitive High School Slow Dance Playlist

napolean dynamite slow dance

Last week the guy who runs another blog that I write for emailed his whole staff asking each of us to submit a 10-song playlist of our choosing that will go head-to-head in a vote on the website. Whoever’s playlist gets more votes is the winner (not sure if we’re playing for a tangible award or just pride). The voting hasn’t opened yet or else you can bet your ass I’d be linking to it so all my readers could vote for my songs.

But I thought I’d give you a sneak peek anyway. The only rule was that we should try to make the playlist have a theme of sorts. I’m sure the smart people chose themes like 80s hairband songs, 90s alternative, top 10 songs of 2013, best 10 songs to have sex to, etc, etc.

I chose “The 10 best slow songs from your middle school & high school dances (assuming you’re in your late 20s or early 30s right now)”.

How’s that for a very specific theme-oriented playlist?

While I think this is pretty much the definitive list, I suppose I’m open to reader feedback and suggestions on slow songs I might have missed. If there’s a song not listed that brings back a special memory of your awkward dancing from your teens, please go ahead and leave a comment.

As far as this list goes, I’ve tried to organize it in the order I’d play these songs if I was DJing a dance. You might think the order doesn’t matter, but that would be a huge mistake. You can’t open the slow dancing with something like “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. That just wouldn’t make sense, and it would scare all the boys off before the girls get a chance to drag them out onto the dance floor.

Here’s the list (with links to each song on YouTube in case your memory has started slipping already):

1). “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal

If I’m DJing this dance, I’m starting the slow dancing off with a light, almost jokey song like this that the kids can sing to each other while doing their best Batman impressions.

2). “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams

And I’m following it up with some magic by Bryan Adams.

3). “I Swear” by All-4-One

After two warm up songs, I’d drop the mother fucking hammer on those unsuspecting 8th graders. Just hit ‘em hard with the most deadly material in my arsenal, courtesy of slow dance specialists All-4-One (nothing guaranteed at least a little make out session later that night more than belting out every lyric to this song while slow dancing with a girl).

4). “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion

Such a polarizing song in high school. The girls went absolutely nuts over it, and the guys hated it. Not indifferent to it like most slow songs, specifically hated it. Probably because as a gender we weren’t allowed to like Titanic, Leo, or anything associated with that movie. This was usually when the guys would go to the bathroom or take a break while the girls slow danced with each other.

5). “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith

But the guys were NOT allowed to miss the Armageddon song. For some reason the corny love story of Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler resonated with the high school girls much more than Leo and Kate Winslett’s.

6). “All My Life” by K-Ci & JoJo

After a couple songs for the ladies, this one’s for the guys. Because every guy at every dance in the history of dances has pretended they were either K-Ci or JoJo in their music video for this song. There’s not a lot of dancing involved, mostly just looking up at the ceiling and spinning slowly with your arms out.

7). “You’re Still The One” by Shania Twain

Girls were obsessed with Shania Twain back in my high school days. And I’m only kind of embarrassed to tell you that I was so P-whipped back then that I had a Shania tape in my car at all times and told my girlfriend I enjoyed listening to it nonstop when she was with me.

8). “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

How did we even dance to this song? It’s too slow to slow dance to (possibly my favorite sentence I’ve ever written). You just kinda stood there in the middle of the dance floor and waited to scream out “AND IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII-EEE-IIIIIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU”.

9). “I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLaughlan 

You’ll remember this one as the penultimate song played at senior prom. The DJ would announce “OK, Seniors, this is officially your last dance in high school, make it count.” And inevitably all the single people would convince the entire class to dance in a large circle, totally hijacking the last dance from the couples.

10). “End Of The Road” by Boyz II Men

And as the tears flowed from Ms. McLaughlan’s heartfelt ballad, Boyz II Men officially brought the night to a close.

Here are some honorable mentions that came to mind during the construction of this playlist:

So what did I miss?

Movie Review: Gravity (A Must-See in 3-D)

gravity2

So what’s the deal with that movie where Sandra Bullock is floating around in space? You know, the movie whose previews have given us nothing beyond “Sandra Bullock is lost in space.” The one that George Clooney’s rumored to be in even though you never see him in the previews or on any of the movie posters.

For my benefit and yours, I went to check it out this week in my favorite time slot: Tuesday afternoon, where I’m joined at the theater only by retired people and criminals trying to duck out of the public spotlight for a couple hours.

The movie is a sci-fi/thriller called Gravity. It stars Sandra Bullock as a bio-medical engineer making her maiden voyage into space to fix part of the Hubble Telescope. If a movie about things gone wrong in space automatically makes you think of Armageddon, then Bullock would be playing the Ben Affleck role. And that means George Clooney is channeling his inner Bruce Willis, playing the old grizzled veteran making his last expedition and helping the scared protege get through a rough first experience.

Gravity is actually nothing like Armageddon, so please don’t be scared off by that comparison. One blockbuster that I’ve heard people comparing it to is Castaway. That makes a little sense because both films start off with an unsuspecting person getting stranded in an unknown, almost unsurvivable place. But the similarities end there. While Castaway overwhelms us with the human side of the story—Tom Hanks’ primal struggle for survival on an uninhabited island with no companion and no real hope of returning to his loved ones—Gravity overwhelms us with the brilliance and tension of being lost in space.

To put it another way, we don’t care as much about the characters and what’s in store for them if they get home safely in Gravity as we do in Castaway.

Instead we focus on the in-the-moment plot. Is the satellite debris going to hit their shuttle? Does the escape pod have fuel? What happens when her oxygen runs out?

And the best use of 3-D I’ve ever seen…we focus a lot on that too. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s the best 3-D movie I’ve seen from a visual standpoint. Yes, better than Avatar. It’s just the perfect movie for that technology. If you have the option to see this movie in 3-D and you choose not to, I hope you regret it for the rest of your life.

You should see this movie if: You loved Apollo 13. You enjoy suspension-filled thrillers. You are OK with a little “odd couple buddy adventure” mixed into your serious movie. You’re obsessed with all things Sandra Bullock. You seek out movies that are visually captivating. You appreciate a movie whose broad subject matter can be whittled down and focused on just the important 90 minutes. You want to see 3-D used on the exact right movie.

You should not see this movie if: Getting a full cavity search sounds more pleasant than sitting through a sci-fi space adventure. You couldn’t care less about 3-D and the visual aspect of a movie. You have it out for Sandra Bullock and think she probably drove Jesse James to cheat on her. You know you’ll obsess the whole time over which plot points are realistic and which aren’t (for example: Is it realistic that an astronaut would be able to use a shuttle’s backup landing thrusters to propel her nearly 100 miles to a very specific landing spot on the Chinese Space Station? I don’t know and I don’t care).

On the Ross Watchability Scale (RWS), I give it an 8 out of 10. Without the 3-D component, it might merely be a 6 out of 10.

Speaking of 3-D, it turns out they accidentally showed us the first 20 minutes of Gravity in 2-D, but no one had spoken up or complained by the time a theater employee announced that they were restarting the movie in 3-D. How does no one in a group of 30 people complain about this screwup? You’d think people had to notice it. There’s a pretty big difference between the two viewing experiences. What’s my excuse? Well I hate admitting this, but when I was growing up I could never do those “Magic Eye” optical illusion things. I’d stare at them in the mall for hours and would eventually start crying when I couldn’t see the 3-D image like all the other kids (it was always a stupid fucking dolphin in the middle of the poster). So even though those first 20 minutes of the movie looked off to me, who was I to speak up? The guy who can’t even see a hidden image that most 3rd graders can figure out was going to complain about not being able to see the 3-D movie? And risk being told that it is, in fact, in 3-D already? No thank you.