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In a few months’ time I’ll be tying the knot with my partner of 11 years. And for a couple whose friends describe me as “laid back, almost horizontal,” we’re feeling surprisingly organised when it comes to the wedding. (Nerd alert: I even set up a project management board on Trello, an app I usually rely on for content work in my day job.)

One wedding task I loved doing was finding a suitable DJ who could rise to the challenge of keeping the dance-floor full at our evening reception. It probably goes without saying, but years of editing articles in this very magazine and chatting to contributors and readers at the Pro Mobile Conference meant I knew exactly what I was looking for. Indeed, the DJ we’ve picked is a committed Pro Mobile reader himself.

The other task I was looking forward to – and one I didn’t expect to find particularly challenging – was choosing the song for our first dance. (I say ‘was’ – at the time of writing, we still haven’t decided on one.)

Over the years, Josie and I have found a shared joy in so much different music from across the decades and genres. Classics like Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, Nirvana, R.E.M, Massive Attack, and The Pretenders. Our generation of indie music, including Arctic Monkeys, Florence & The Machine, The War On Drugs, Lana Del Rey, and Peace. Plus folkier stuff like Joni Mitchell, Dry The River, Laura Marling, Nick Drake, The Waterboys, Richard Thompson and Ben Howard.

With all these artists to choose from, how hard could it be to find something perfect for our first dance?

But the more I listened to our favourite songs and paid closer attention to the lyrics, it became clear that love songs don’t exactly hide in plain sight. Even when we think we understand a song, it soon shapeshifts upon closer inspection. What I quickly realised was that many of the songs Josie and I had loosely marked as possibilities were actually break-up songs masquerading as love songs. They were about love, but not about being in love.

Next, we decided to go back to basics by revisiting some bonafide first-dance classics: ‘At Last’, ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’, ‘All of Me’, ‘Stand By Me’, ‘Your Song’, ‘Make You Feel My Love’. All fantastic tracks that I love, but couldn’t imagine slow-dancing to with my partner. That would be a bit too overtly romantic for a couple of introverts like us.

This is when we started to consider some alternative track choices, but still containing romantic lyrics suitable for a first dance. Many of the songs below are personal favourites or genuine considerations for use at some point of our wedding (whether the ceremony, background music, or first dance). Plus, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought this list could be handy for mobile DJs looking for a bit of a change from the same old love songs.
Why not mix up your playlist by combining some of those classics with a few alternative takes on the big ‘L’ word? There are loads out there, from emotional heavy hitters to light-hearted pop tracks, but here are some of my best picks…

Richard Hawley – Tonight The Streets Are Ours [2007]

“Tonight the streets are ours / And these lights in our hearts they tell no lies”

A serene swirl of strings, piano and drums open this beautiful track from Richard Hawley’s 2007 album, ‘Lady’s Bridge’ (named after the famous landmark in his native Sheffield). Vocally, the singer-songwriter brings to mind old-time legends like Roy Orbison and Scott Walker, making this a great alternative track for fans of older music looking for a modern take on a classic sound.

As always with Hawley, the lyrics here draw inspiration from the city streets, perfectly evoking nights full of endless promise and the invincibility of young love.

The Jam – English Rose [1978]

“I’ve searched the secret mists, I’ve climbed the highest peaks / Caught the wild wind home, to hear her soft voice speak”

This album track from The Jam’s classic ‘All Mod Cons’ album showcases the Modfather at his most honest and vulnerable, declaring his...

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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 123, Pages 28-32.
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