Overcome by the inexplicable inertia that only strikes on a Friday night when you know you really should be going to bed, I found myself sat in front of the TV last week. This has happened to me before: in the days before I kicked the habit, I used to find myself watching the live infra-red camera feed of people sleeping in the Big Brother House; I've also found myself watching such unlikely films as "The Ron De Flores Story" (the story of an ex-con who finds unlikely fame in the major leagues), "Cursed" (where Christina Ricci and that bloke from Dawson's Creek turn out to be werewolves), "Shark Swarm" (where some sharks...er... swarm). Last Friday, I was thwarted in my attempts to watch "Vampyr", a 1930s horror film, on Sky Arts 3 because I didn't subscribe to the channel, so I found myself browsing the netherworld of the music channels.
I ended up on "Magic". No, I'd never heard of it either. Given that they were playing Shania Twain, I'm not quite sure why I stopped either. The fact that they then rolled straight into Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warne should also have given me pause for thought, but I was mesmerised now. It was, I quickly gathered, a countdown of the nation's most popular wedding first dance songs. I tuned in at number 9 and, apart from the odd flick over to Q tv, where they were counting down the top 100 Biggest Artists of All Time and lurching incontinently from the Spice Girls to Depeche Mode to Eurythmics to Pet Shop Boys to Bon Jovi to Dire Straits.... I was inexplicably hooked.
Now, I don't know about you, but why does the song you choose for the first dance at your wedding have to be a pile of irredeemably appalling shite? Yes, I appreciate that this is the happiest day of your life, and so on, and that you may want to have everything about your day, including your choice of song, as sugar-coated as your tiered wedding cake... but how does that justify Leann Rimes? or R Kelly? or Whitney Houston? or - spare me - another bloody Shania Twain song? Van Morrison is theoretically an improvement, but not when the song is "Have I Told You Lately". The Commodores can just about get away with "Three Times a Lady", but only because of their haircut, outfits and the fact that Lionel Richie is a bona-fide genius. The number one was Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" from that not-very-good Asteroid film starring Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and - rather disturbingly from a video point of view as her father gurned his way through the song - Liv Tyler. Now, Aerosmith have had a long and varied career, and have produced such classics as "Walk This Way", "Mama Kin", Sweet Emotion", "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" and "Love in an Elevator". They've had their ups and they've had their downs, but I think it's fair to say that this record, this tossed off soundtrack, is not amongst their finest moments. And yet, apparently, this is the song that people choose to have their first dance with their new spouse, in front of their families, at their weddings.
Apart from anything else, how do you dance to it? Is there any option but the close smooch, where you cling together and awkwardly shuffle your feet around on the dancefloor for the agonisingly long four minutes and fifty four seconds of the song? That must feel like HOURS, and you just know that nobody is going to put you out of your misery by joining you on the dancefloor either, no matter what they agreed at the bar.....
So why do it? Why show such devastating lack of imagination in your choice of song? Why not pick a song that actually does mean something to you, and isn't just the common denominator slow dance song that you picked from the shortlist the wedding DJ gave you? It's surely an opportunity to show a bit of personality as you officially launch your partnership, isn't it? No?
After a short discussion, we opted for "Fell In Love With A Girl" by the White Stripes. Partly this was because it was sharp, upbeat and resolutely non-smoochy, but it was also because it is a mere one minute and fifty-three seconds long. It still felt like hours, but at least it's a record that we both love and that we were happy to throw ourselves around like idiots to in front of our friends. Other people avoid cliche too: my brother-in-law and his wife danced to "Let's Spend the Night Together" by the Rolling Stones, and Sarah was telling me the other day that some friends of hers kicked the dancing off at their wedding with a spot of Muse. I was desperately hoping it would be something bonkers like "Knights of Cydonia", but apparently it was "Starlight", which I suppose makes a bit more sense. It can be done.
Of course, what I'd really like to see would be the couple brave enough to go with something like "Too Drunk To Fuck" by the Dead Kennedies.....
So come on..... I reckon you've got more imagination than the herd, and I reckon the survey is hokum. So to prove it, in a completely unscientific survey, here's a couple of questions for you (thanks to LazyGal for the suggestion):
-> What did you choose for your first dance? (or, if you're not married, what would you choose?)
-> What would be the most ridiculously inappropriate song that you could think of? (I'm thinking that R Kelly can't be far off this one....I mean, seriously?)
Apologies in advance, of course, if you opted for Leann Rimes or Shania Twain or Aersosmith because you really like them and because their beautiful songs speak to your entwined souls. It's a free country and it takes all sorts, innit.