Teens take prom season pretty seriously these days. We talked to 17 high schoolers from all over the U.S. about the music they hope to hear on their special day. Turns out EDM is not for everyone, rap songs you know are fun to dance to with groups, the ’80s are really uncool, and Flume is in. Not every teen loves “Happy,” but they seem to have acknowledged and accepted it.
Amanda, 19, Bronx, N.Y.:
[At prom] slow love songs will not do. Love music makes you all mopey and sad — it makes you want to hug a teddy bear and lie down. Hyper music, like hip-hop, makes you wanna just get on the dance floor and let loose, break out your best dance moves, even if you can’t dance. Songs like “Happy” by Pharrell, or Jay Z and Beyoncé. I think the DJ will play the “Cha-Cha Slide” because, for some reason or the other, that song always comes up at parties. It will make anybody come out of their shell. I would play some Rihanna music, like “We Found Love” and “Where Have You Been.” Those both have great beats to them.
Selin, 18, San Jose, Calif.:
I guess I’m excited to get ready and go with my friends, but usually the actual prom isn’t that fun. They’ll probably play a good amount of hip-hop and pop songs, but probably also EDM. For the past two formal dances, we actually had a student DJ — he’s in some, like, club at school where they make mixes and stuff. He plays a lot of different dubstep mixes at the dances, but usually people want hip-hop cause it’s easier to dance to. If I could choose what they played, I’d probably want a lot of trap, because it’s between EDM and hip-hop and I really like both, so it’s a perfect combination for me. I really like Flosstradamus and Bassnectar, and for hip-hop I really like Drake and Lil Wayne. For EDM I also really like Diplo. But for the most part, no matter what they play, we’re gonna like it, unless it’s, like, music that no one knows, like stuff from the ’80s that no one had heard of. At an after-party, people will probably end up playing mixes from live events. My friends will just put on mixes from Coachella and we’ll listen to that.
Kayla, 18, Louisville, Ky.:
Prom was last weekend. It was really fun. The place was big. The music was OK. Some songs were kinda weird, but other songs just made you wanna get out and dance all night. It was great. [People responded well to] the new songs like “Turn Down for What,” “Thrift Shop,” and “Happy.” And any song that we used to listen to growing up — ’90s songs, and early 2000s songs, like that song “Yeah” by Usher. I was so mad they didn’t play “Treasure” once, by Bruno Mars. But I don’t think the music was really all that important, honestly. It’s more about being with your friends. They could play any song and I could dance with them.
Tyler, 18, Chicago:
I feel so-so about prom, but I’m going, because someone asked me. I hope they play Migos.
Clay, 16, Shawnee, Kan.:
I am going to prom, just cause I’ve only got two chances — plus, this year we’re at a new venue, so it should be good. Ideally, the DJ would play just a straight medley of every single Beyoncé song in existence, specifically “Partition,” over and over again. But, realistically they’ll probably play some songs from the Gatsby album, since our theme is [The Great] Gatsby. If they didn’t play “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody,” I’d be surprised. Other than that, they’ll probably play, like, “Dark Horse,” “Talk Dirty,” “Pompeii,” and “Happy.” If they play the frick frackin’ Fox song, I’ll burn the place down.
John, 18, Bronxville, N.Y.:
I hate house music. I guess Avicii songs are pretty good, but I can’t stand most of it. If they play that song “Animals,” I’m pretty sure I’m just gonna walk off. I do like “Teach Me How to Dougie” and stuff like that. And I like ’90s music. Everyone dances to the Backstreet Boys. And I like to hear songs that have really fun lyrics to sing to. If everyone knows the words, it’s much more fun. Last year [at prom] they played a lot of old songs, ’80s songs. Like they played a couple Whitney Houston songs. I didn’t mind that, but then they played “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life” at the end, and that was the worst. That’s the cheesiest song. I wouldn’t mind one or two slow songs like that [this year], but I think keeping it upbeat and keeping everyone on the dance floor is the most important part. Some people don’t even dance with their dates. They only took their dates for the pictures. The people that I asked to prom, I asked to prom cause I wanted to have fun with them.
Shailey, 17, Bloomington, Ind.:
This is my first time going [to prom], so I’m pretty excited, although I have pretty low expectations based off of the other school dances I have been to. The theme for my prom is a 1920s speakeasy. It would be really cool if they actually played ’20s music, or if people actually dressed up like they were in the ’20s. The theme doesn’t really mean anything, though. So yeah, the music that I would want to be played is ’20s Jazz Age-type stuff. I would love to hear some Duke Ellington or Gershwin. Or even some Cole Porter or Louis Armstrong<. But I know they’re going to play the Top 40 songs, and I dread the fact that I can expect them to play the “Selfie” song.
Timothy, 18, Chicago:
I worked hard all school year to graduate, and it’s time to celebrate my success. I hope to hear a lot of hip-hop at prom; anything that I hear from the radio right now, on 107.5 or 92.3.
Emma, 15, San Diego:
I would go [to prom], but my school doesn’t allow freshmen to go. I want DJs to play music I actually like and that gets the crowd excited. At winter formal, the DJ played “Hollaback Girl” and I was pretty stoked. I like to hear fun music, just in general, when I’m with a lot of people. I think old-school hip-hop is usually the best. I played “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the way to homecoming and all my friends were belting out the lyrics.
Tyrone, 18, Bronx, N.Y.:
I like prom, because everyone gets together before the end of the year. I hope to hear the newest music and the newest dance songs, but I think the DJ will actually play old things from years ago. I would play all turn-up music. When I’m with people, I usually like listening to Lil Durk, Chief Keef, Lil Reese, and FBG Duck.
Chris, 18, Providence, R.I.:
Prom is one of those things that every person should attend, even if you don’t like to dance. It’s a rite of passage. I am bringing my friend, who has never been to any prom before. I hope to hear a good mix of the old and new, pop, hip-hop, and dance, that doesn’t rely too much on what’s on pop radio. I am a music fiend and am always looking for something new that is great, or a popular old album on vinyl. The Flume remix of Lorde’s “Tennis Court” is the best thing I’ve heard lately, and I’m really liking Kaytranada, Isaiah Rashad, and Jesse Boykins III’s new stuff. I am on the music committee for my school, but we will see how much influence students wield [at prom]. I’m simply expecting a lot of Top 40 hits from the past few years, and of course the “Macarena,” “Cotton Eye Joe” — all that gross stuff.
Felicia, 18, Chicago:
I’m not going to prom because I’m only a junior. I want to go when I am graduating. But when I’m with other people, I like to listen to boppin music. And recently, I’ve gotten into Tink.
Jose, 16, Corsicana, Texas:
I’ll miss everyone at this crappy school, even the sass-master bitches who made my life living hell, and I’d love to have one last great time with all of them before we actually start the rest of our lives. Even though it’s a crapload of money, I’m sure the debt will be worth it. (-_-) If the DJ has a soul, I hope he listens to my recommendations and plays Crystal Castles, Flume, St. Vincent, or Beach House. The universe knows kids at my school need a break from KISS-FM. Nevertheless the DJ will probably get all his songs from KISS-FM’s Spotify playlist. [On the way to prom] I’m playing nothing but Crystal Castles. A gay boy needs to get his groove on!
Sam, 15, Salt Lake City:
Prom is generally a good experience for me. I hope to hear a range of music that varies from the normal techno and pop played at these kinds of things. I doubt I will hear it, though, because our DJ is an ass and only plays his pretentious white-boy music.
Rachel, 18, Nutley, N.J.:
I’m going to prom because all of my friends are going and I guess I have no reason not to go, seeing as we don’t need a date. I have a feeling I don’t like prom, but I’ve yet to attend one, so I guess I’m keeping an open mind. I hope to hear songs that you can dance to, but hopefully avoiding all remixes or EDM. Ideally, I would like to hear some Justin Timberlake — any Justin Timberlake: “Sexyback,” “Senorita,” “TKO.” Some One Direction would be nice, preferably something like “One Thing” or maybe “Live While We’re Young.” I’d even be all right with “Midnight Memories.” “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers or “Day N Nite” by Kid Cudi. The DJ will probably play a One Direction song, throw in a few ridiculous songs that have specific dances that go with them, Miley Cyrus, a song or six by David Guetta, and something by Lil Jon and/or Pitbull.
Gregory, 17, Chicago:
My girlfriend is beautiful and I want to go out with her all dressed up. At prom, I hope to hear Future, “I Won,” with Kanye, and King LilJay, “Bars.” On the way there, I would play Chief Keef.
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