Ambience: A NJ DJ Blog

  • Wedding Music Master Class 2016

    Congratulations on your engagement! Now it's time to start planning. Building an appropriate musical playlist for a wedding can be a daunting task for many couples. Special songs such as parent dances can be particularly challenging.

    Welcome to the Wedding Music Master Class, updated for 2016. This blog article is published by wedding entertainment specialist Ambient DJ Service. The Wedding Music Master Class is now in its fourth year of publication and contains over 1,800 hand-selected songs. We hope this blog will make planning your wedding a bit easier.

    Who is Ambient DJ Service? Ambient DJ is a New Jersey-based mobile DJ company specializing in weddings. We are a 2016 winner of The Knot Best of Weddings and WeddingWire Couples Choice Award. Music is our business - and our passion!

    Unfortunately, there are many inferior musical playlists circulating the internet that were not compiled by working wedding professionals. To that end, we are sharing this Master List of our best song ideas for a wedding: from ceremony music, to the reception portion with lists for Grand Entrance songs, First Dance, Father-Daughter Dance, Mother-Son Dance, Cake Cutting, Bouquet and Garter songs and Grand Finale songs. We also share our Top 100 Songs for a 2016 Wedding, 67 Themed Cocktail Hour playlists, 10 Songs NOT to play at a wedding, 7 Musical Programming Tips for a Wedding, and more. The majority of the songs in this blog were used by our actual clients, while the rest were selected with great care with regards to lyrics, mood and danceability.

    An important enhancement to this year's Master Class is that each section of song selections are followed by links to our Spotify channel where you can listen to the music. We recommend using Spotify as a powerful online resource to help organize your wedding song ideas. Create a free Spotify account, start a playlist, and begin adding song candidates to it.

    If you find these lists and ideas useful, please share them with a friend by posting on Social Media. You can follow us on Facebook here or on Pinterest here. We are a New Jersey-based mobile DJ entertainment company with an expertise in weddings. If you are a New Jersey-based bride or groom, please keep us in mind for your special day!

    For a wealth of additional planning tips, check out our book available on Amazon "The Bride's Guide to Selecting the Perfect Wedding DJ". It is available as either a hard copy or ebook.

    Now let's get into the music!

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  • The Top 25 Songs of 2015 - by DJ Gregg Ambient

    It's time for a countdown of the top songs of the year gone by, presented by me, DJ Gregg Ambient!

    Some quick thoughts on 2015. I thought that 2015 was a good year for music - not the best, not the worst - but certainly interesting. There were a couple of breakthrough artists. Two who come to mind are The Weeknd and Fetty Wap. I am particularly fond of the Weeknd - with his distinctive four quadrant hairstyle, falsetto voice and sexy, spaced out R&B soundscapes. Fetty Wap, a hip hop artist hailing from Paterson New Jersey achieved massive success in 2015 with his unique vocal delivery that mixed rapping and singing about scenes from the inner city.

    EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and Hip Hop have both seen better days. EDM has become so mass-produced that you hear it at your local pharmacy like elevator music. EDM's novelty has worn off, and much of it sounds the same. Regarding hip hop, the music is too slow in my opinion and sounds more like drug music than party music. Some of the most interesting music of 2015 fused musical genres - for example, Ne-Yo collaborating with Pitbull pairing R&B and Latin-influenced dance music. Major Lazer, an American electronic act, created interesting music in 2015 fusing international styles like reggae, EDM and moombahton.

    With that introduction, prepare yourselves for the Top 25 songs of 2015, presented below in countdown fashion. Also, don't forget to check out the free, downloadable New Year's Eve party dance mix towards the bottom of this blog containing many of these top tracks. There is also a YouTube video companion video that provides the stories behind the music.

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  • The New Years Eve Style Wedding Cocktail Hour

    While New Years Eve is nearly a week past, this fun party atmosphere can be re-created any night of the year. New Years Eve is a time to reflect upon the year gone by - with all of its memories good and bad. New Years Eve is a time to get sentimental. It's also a time to look forward with hope for the coming year.

    The tracks on this playlist compiled by our DJ Gregg Ambient reflect the sentimental, flamboyant and festive nature of a New Years Eve celebration. Representative selections include tracks from the late 70s and early 80s (Herb Alpert, Chuck Mangione, George Benson), dramatic sax players (Kenny G, Gato Barbieri) and a slew of upbeat disco and R&B artists (Whitney Houston, DeBarge, George McCrae, Cerrone) and many more. The later section of the set introduces more danceable selections in anticipation of the dance party to follow.

    For New Years Eve, you'd better be uncorking a bottle of fine champagne! As a signature drink, we've selected a tasty bottle of Moet & Chandon. Cheers to you!

    Listen to The New Years Eve Style cocktail hour on our Spotify channel by clicking here. For a 2016 New Years Eve dance mix by DJ Gregg Ambient that includes a cocktail style open followed by a vigorous best of 2015 dance set, see the embedded Mixcloud music player immediately below the track listing.

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  • The Boy Bands Wedding Cocktail Hour (Volume 1)

    Technically "boy bands" go back to the 1950s and 1960s with acts like The Beatles, Monkees, Osmonds and Jackson Five. However, in this blog installment, master music mixologist DJ Iron Mike selects boy bands from the 1980s through the present crop. Sample artists include the Backstreet Boys, 'NSync, New Kids on the Block, Color Me Badd, Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees, the Jonas Brothers, One Direction - and more!

    Boys bands - typically manufactured by promoters to target the masses with handsome young men, pleasing harmonies, fancy dance moves and catchy pop hooks can be particularly nostalgic to brides who enjoyed these acts during their formative years. So why not take a walk down memory lane with this Boy Bands playlist at your wedding?

    Boy bands typically offer bubble gum pop music. Accordingly, for a signature drink we selected a "Bubble Martini" made with Three Olives "Bubble" vodka. Learn how to mix one by clicking here.

    Listen to Iron Mike's Boy Bands cocktail hour on our Spotify channel by clicking here.

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  • The "Lush" Boutique Hotel / Wedding Cocktail Hour

    Our latest cocktail hour installment was compiled by Luke Rizzo, aka "DJ Cloak Dagger."  Ambient DJ is thrilled to welcome Luke to our senior staff of music mixologists.  Celebrating our new collaboration, Luke has prepared a cocktail hour playlist designed to capture the sexy spirit of the Manhattan nightlife.  Many of his track selections are remixes that are not easily found - let the hunt begin! (Note: we've included links to each song to make it easier). Artists remixed include Toni Braxton, Sade, Erykah Badu, Bruno Mars, Shawn Mendes and Ed Sheeran.

    About DJ Cloak Dagger

    Luke Rizzo, aka DJ Cloak Dagger, is a New York City-based DJ, producer, curator, taste maker and founder of the "Noc Boots" record label.  Luke is a permanent fixture in the NYC club, lounge, boutique hotel and loft scene with an impressive array of residencies under his belt ranging from a four year stint as artist in residency at the swanky Smyth Hotel in TriBeCa, plus a summer 2015 residency at Battery Park waterfront hot spot Le District.  Cloak's smooth and musical mixes have been enjoyed at other Manhattan hot spots including Webster Hall, Penthouse 808, the Russian Tea Room - and my personal favorite - "Cielo" in the meatpacking district.

    Signature Drink

    For a signature cocktail, Luke has selected Le District NYC's summer 2015 signature cocktail, the "Botanist."  To create this libation, you'll need "The Botanist" brand gin, Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic Cordial, Chilled Perrier, Grapefruit Oils, Fresh Citrus and Juniper.

    Bonus Mixes

    Below his playlist, please enjoy two free mixes.  The first - from Luke's "Nocturnes" podcast series - features an impeccably mixed selection of deep, groovy lounge cuts.  The second mix - prepared in advance of Cloak Dagger's upcoming New Year's Eve appearance at Almond NYC is a peak hour commercial dance/EDM set designed to be unleashed at 11:59 PM.

    To book DJ Cloak Dagger for your upcoming wedding or dance party, visit www.ambientdj.com

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  • The 80s 90s Something Wedding Cocktail Hour

    In creating this playlist, the original thought was to make it a 90s music set. However, once getting started, I realized that many of the tracks that I enjoyed in the 1990s were in fact from the late 1980s. Accordingly, the playlist was rebranded as "The 80s 90s Something Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlist." The musical selections that follow mostly derive from the R&B spectrum, with representative artists including Sade, Soul II Soul, Terence Trent D'Arby, Lisa Stansfield, George Michael, Seal, Babyface, Sinead O'Connor and even disgraced lip-syncers Milli Vanilli. The late 80s/early 90s were some of the best years of my life, and musically I have many fond memories that are shared in this playlist.

    For a signature cocktail, a bottle of "Zima" was selected. Zima is the once popular "alcopop" beverage produced by Miller-Coors. Sadly, Zima was discontinued in 2008 but its memory lives on via this blog.

    Below the playlist, be sure to check out the continuous one hour "80s 90s Something Playlist" on Mixcloud that includes the majority of the set. Also, stay tuned for future installments that will include a "90s Rock" cocktail hour playlist and a "Boy Bands" playlist.

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  • The Blues Wedding Cocktail Hour (Volume One)

    Blues is a genre and musical form that originated in African-American communities in the "Deep South" of the United States around the end of the 19th century. While there's no reason for you to be singing the blues at a wedding celebration, blues is a distinctive and pleasing musical genre. It's also the foundation for many modern musical styles including rock n' roll and jazz. Our DJ Marti Gras (Martin Valcin) recently performed at a wedding where the couple requested a generous portion of deep blues music. Marti Gras brushed up on the genre and compiled over 400 tracks. In this playlist, he shares some of his favorites. Representative artists include Howlin' Wolf, Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker.

    For a signature cocktail, we've selected the "Blonde Manhattan" - a cocktail that incorporates moonshine (corn whiskey), sweet vermouth, Cointreau, orange bitters and a lemon peel. View the recipe by clicking here.

    Below Martin's playlist, we invite you to listen to his one hour continuous blues mix on Soundcloud using the embedded music player.

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  • The Catchy Covers Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlist

    This playlist was inspired by the trend towards vintage covers of contemporary music. Scott Bradlee's group "Postmodern Jukebox" with its various lead singers is at the forefront of this trend, and is well-represented in this set compiled by Ambient DJ music mixologist Christopher Smith, aka "DJ Spinz." We've augmented the set with other catchy cover versions by artists including Sam Tsui, Boyce Avenue, Jamie Cullum, The Robert Glasper Experiment, Who is Oliver, Richard Cheese and The United Rhythms of Brazil. To make the playlist accessible, we've restricted our selections to songs that are commercially available for purchase. This unfortunately excludes many interesting cover versions found in the realm of YouTube.

    For a signature cocktail, we've selected the retro "Southern Revival" - a drink served at the Yardbird Southern Table & Bar (Miami and Las Vegas locations) that blends sweet and sour flavors, featuring Wild Turkey 81, passion fruit and fresh basil.

    Listen to the Classy Covers Cocktail Hour on Spotify by clicking here. And be sure to watch the super fun music videos of Postmodern Jukebox, several of which are included below.

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  • The New Orleans Wedding Cocktail Hour

    New Orleans - also known as "The Big Easy" - is a city steeped in musical history. Notably, New Orleans is famous for being the birthplace of jazz music. As per New Orleans entertainment expert Ian McNulty, "Jazz is a byproduct of the unique cultural environment found in New Orleans at the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the vestiges of French and Spanish colonial roots, the resilience of African influences after the slavery era and the influx of immigrants from Europe. The ways these cultures mingled, collided and evolved together in the Crescent City produced America’s most distinctive musical style."

    To celebrate the musical history of New Orleans, we've compiled a cocktail hour playlist featuring the musicians of New Orleans. Representative artists include Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong, Ellis Marsalis, Allen Toussaint and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The music shifts up tempo later in the session with selections by Dr. John, Ernie K-Doe and several zydeco acts, before cooling off with the lovely ballad "Do You What It Means to Miss New Orleans?"sung by Harry Connick, Jr.

    For a signature cocktail, the potent Bourbon Street cocktail, the "Hurricane" has been selected. Sip it slowly!

    Listen to the New Orleans Wedding Cocktail Hour on Spotify by clicking here.

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  • The Bar Life Wedding Cocktail Hour

    Since a wedding cocktail hour is a time to enjoy alcoholic drinks, what better songs to enjoy than songs that reference drinks or the bar life? The accompany playlist compiled by DJ Gregg Ambient references specific beverages including beer, rum, Pina Coladas, Hurricanes and wine. The playlist all contains song about the bar/beach life including "Piano Man" by Billy Joel, "We are Young" by Fun and "Toes" by the Zac Brown Band. On a bluesier note, tracks by The Doors, Rolling Stones and John Lee Hooker were added to the set.

    For a signature drink, we've selected a Margarita, the cocktail praised by Jimmy Buffett in Margaritaville and representing the good life.

    Listen to the Bar Life Cocktail Hour on Spotify by clicking here.

    As a bonus, a "side menu" of a "Hip Hop / R&B Bar Life Playlist" has been selected. Most of these tracks are appropriate for the main event or afterparty and reference stronger cocktails!

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