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A newlywed couple enters the ballroom.

All eyes are on them as their feet move in-sync. Time stands still as the first notes of Goo Goo Doll’s “Iris” blasts over the speakers.

That song would be perfect if it weren’t based on tragedy and death.
goo-gooThere’s millions of ballads in the world. You’d think finding a song that expresses intense emotion would be simple.

From what I’ve witnessed, it’s damn near impossible. I think we get lost in the chorus and rhythms. And we think “oh, this one’s the most romantic song. Ever! Because it mentions the word sail. And we were on a boat together.” No. Just. No.

Listen to all of the lyrics. Print them out. Research the song on Google. I recommend all couples do this, engaged or not. My first boyfriend, Joshua? Our song was “Every Rose has its Thorn” by Poison.

That shouldn’t be anybody’s song.

Maybe your song’s the first you ever dance to. But tread carefully.

“First song ever” is a cool idea. But sometimes not the “OMG, best song choice!” One couple chose “Hotel California” by The Eagles. It’s a beautiful, seven-minute song every girl dreams of dancing to with their crush. But why, why, why as your wedding song?
hotel-californiaMany songs have vague semi-romantic elements, but they aren’t first dance worthy.

For example, “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias. I love the song, but first dance appropriate? When a song starts with: “Let me be your hero,” I’m pretty sure Enrique’s not confessing he’s Batman. Listen a little more. Enrique is vowing to save his partner. From what? I’m not sure. Heartache? A life of misery. Mercury Retrograde. Yes, it was a gushy, romantic and chart-topping hit. But with lyrics such as:

Would you swear that you’ll always be mine?
Would you lie? Would you run and hide?
Am I in too deep? Have I lost my mind?
I don’t care. You’re here tonight

Borderline stalkerish.

My least favourite are those “My life didn’t start until I met you. I love you so much my left arm hurts. Don’t leave me, I’ll die,” type of songs. Please, no songs about wondering how you’d live without the other. Or hearts going on. Or a should I stay or should I go ballads. Or any songs that mention watching someone sleep. That’s just creepy, Aerosmith.
dont-want-to-miss-a-thingI can’t help but raise an eyebrow at those rare misinterpreted songs. “I’ll Be,” by Edwin McCain. Who didn’t fall in love with this tearjerker?

Didn’t we all think Edwin was saying, “Hey, I’ll be your biggest fan because you’re awesome, and your eyes are amazing. They totally steal my breath.”

No, he wasn’t. A love song isn’t a love song with the words gallows, suicide and the line “I fought my way back from the dead.” It’s tragic what happens when you actually listen to lyrics. Your heart dies a little.
ill-follow-youHowever, couples manage to sift through the wreckage and find hidden gems. “I’ll Follow You” by Shinedown. A strange, odd piece to some. A masterpiece to others. The synopsis is basically, “Hey, wherever you go, I’m coming with. And don’t worry about those storm. Because I’m bringing blankets. And if you fall, I’ve gotcha.”

Or “Feels Like Home” by Chantal Kreviazuk. It’s like, “Hey, I’m totally at home in your arms. Mind if I stay?” Imagine a person so lonely that they didn’t realize it until someone comes along and completely changes their world. It’s sad, but happy sad. Yes, there is such a thing as happy sad.

And “Sad Song” by We The Kings featuring Elena Coats. Which isn’t really a sad song. It’s about feeling sad without the other person. Yes, I know. One person cannot complete the other. But it’s the concept. And, oh, just listen to the song.
sad-songsThen there’s the classics. Songs that have stood the test of time. “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” the UB40 version; “Stand By Me,” Ben E. King; and “Ever Since the World Began” by Survivor. Songs you won’t have to search for in iTunes or Spotify and come up disappointed.

To be honest, there isn’t a right or wrong first dance song for a wedding. Unless it’s Chris Brown or Robin Thicke. But if that’s what cranks your tractor, go for it.

Because a first dance reflects how you and your partner feel about each other at the time. Your trials and tribulations up until that point. Maybe “Hotel California” was the best song for that couple. They were young, and that first dance changed their lives.

Then maybe don’t read the lyrics.

And just listen to your heart.