Competition Music

Because the topic came up on Westie Discussion of the Day, I thought I’d post my thoughts here as well:

Westie Discussion of the Day – Competitive Music

So, to check myself I decided to actually go listen to what has been played for Adv/All Star/Champions levels at a small sample of events over the last 2 years. Here is the list:

SwingDiego 2010

Champion J&J
She Ain’t You – Chris Brown/Shakin’ the Shack – Fantastic Shakers
Work Out – J. Cole/Funky Mama – Danny Gatton
It Girl – Jason Derulo/Baby Workout – Jackie Wilson
How to Love – Lil Wayne/Wall to Wall – Vance Kelly
5 O’clock – TPain/Chunk In Her Trunk – Mojo Blues Band
Rack City – Tyga/Move Across the River – Bill Pickney & The Drifters
Up – Loverance/Drinkin’ Wine Spo-dee-o-dee – Nappy Brown & Kip Anderson
Far Away – Tyga/Think – Aretha Franklin
Stereo Hearts – Gym Class Heroes/Spankin’ Leroy – Lucky Peterson

Adv J&J Final
Do you remember – Jay Sean
Beautiful – Akon
Rollacoaster – Robin thicke
Break Your Heart – Taio Cruz
Telephone – Lady Gaga
Celebration – Madonna & Akon
Down – Jay Sean
Sexy Bitch – David Guetta
Stuttering – Mario
Troublemaker – Akon
Cyclone – Ernie Halter (all-skate)

Open SS
September – Kirk Franklin
Let It OUt – Charlie Wilson
The Way I Are – Timbaland (Remix)
Break Your Heart – Taio Cruz
Nightlife – An-Ya
Starlight – Mario
OMG – Usher
In My Head – Jason Derulo
Available – Flo Rida
Shut It Down – Pitbull, Akon
Get Involved – Ginuwine, Timbaland
We Run LA – Ya Boy
You Know What – NERD
Night Train – Richie Cole (all skate)
Sexy Bitch – David Guetta, Akon

MADJam 2012

All Star J&J Final
Domino – Jessie J
Don’t Wanna Go Home – Jason Derulo
Blow – Ke$ha
Sweat – Snoop Dogg vs. David Guetta
S&M – Rihanna
Sexy & I Know It – LMFAO
Only Girl – Rihanna
Turn All The Lights On – T-Pain
Who Dat Girl – Flo Rida
Sorry for Party Rocking – LMFAO
More – Usher (all skate)
This Is How We Do It – Montell Jordan (all skate)

Adv J&J Final
Me, U & The Music – Lemar
Cyclone – Ernie Halter
How Long Can A Fool Go Wrong – James Cotton

Capital 2012

Adv J&J Final
Sadie – Son Seals
Finally Moving – Pretty Lights
Give Me Everything – Pitbull

Adv J&J Prelim
Bright Lights, Big City – Cee Lo Green
On Fire – JJ Grey & Mofro
Further on Up the Road – Magic Slim
Forget You – Cee Lo Green
Welcom to the Jungle – Etta James
Tell Me What I Did Wrong – Janiva Magness

New Years Swing Dance Classic 2011

Champion SS
Airplay – B.o.B/Move Across the River – Bill Pickney
Hold My Hand – Michael Jackson/WPLJ – Bill Pickney
Just a Dream – Nelly/Bad Case of Love – BB King
Hey Daddy – Plies, Usher/Spankin Leroy – Lucky Peterson
The Mob – J. Dubb/Johnny B. Goode – Elton John
Rocketeer – Far East Movement/Good Time Charlie – 2000 Lbs. of Blues
What’s My Name – Rihanna/Funky Mama – Danny Gatton
One In a Million – Ne-Yo/Drinkin’ Wine Spo-dee-o-dee – Nappy Brown
Love The Way You Lie – Eminem/Charlene – Carl Perkins
I Just Wanna Know – Taio Cruz/Blue, Blue World – Roomful of Blues
Strawberry Letter 23 – Quincy Jones/How Long Can A Fool Go Wrong – James Cotton
Cyclone – Ernie Halter (all skate)
Get Up Off That Thing – James Brown

Champion J&J Prelim
Rocketeer – Far East Movement
Don’t Cry on My Shoulder – Sam Cooke
Starlight – Mario
For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield

Adv. SS
Don’t Turn Heater Down – Tommy Castro
With or Without You – Cunnie Williams
Do You Remember – Jay Sean

All American JJ Final
My Girl – The Temptations
Respect – Aretha Franklin
Down in the Valley – Otis Redding
Ain’t Too Proud to Beg – The Temptations

Palm Springs 2010

Champions
Baby I Love You – Aretha Franklin/Somebody To Love – Justin Bieber
Sixteen Tons – Tom Jones/I Like It – Pitbull, Enrique Iglesias
Love Potion #9 – Dan Barrett/Dancin’ Around the Truth – The Stunners
Someday – Los Lobos/Meet Me Halfway – Black Eyed Peas
Shoes of Another Man – Brother Yusef/Dynamite – Taio Cruz
Blue Bop – Ferreira J., The Swing Machine/Club Can’t Handle Me – Flo Rida
Layla – Eric Clapton/Beautiful Monster – Ne-Yo
Built For Comfort – Dion/Starlight – Mario
Blender Blues – Bonnie Raitt/Rock That Body – Black Eyed Peas
Man In the Mirror – James Morrison (all skate)
Think – Aretha Franklin (all skate)

Swing City Chicago 2011

All Star J&J
Man In the Middle – James Morrison/Don’t Wanna Go Home – Jason Derulo
Loving You Tonight – Andrew Allen/Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5
Heartless – Kris Allen/Cause I Said So – Ne-Yo
More Than Words – Extreme/Love You Like a Love Song – Selena Gomez
Free Fallin – John Mayer/Spankin’ Leroy – Lucky Peterson
Secret – Maroon 5/Give Me Everything – Pitbull
Black Coffee in Bed – Ernie Halter/S&M Rihanna
Water Runs Dry – Boyz II Men/More – Usher
Breakin’ Me – Johnny Lang/Helluva Nite – Madcon
Aht Uh Mi Hed – Shaun Escoffery/Please Don’t Go – Mike Posner
5:19 – Matt Wertz/Sweet Home Chicago – The Blues Brothers
Change the World – Eric Clapton/Dynamite – Taio Cruz
Evil Woman – Mike Posner (all skate)

Adv J&J Finals
Grenade – Bruno Mars
Layla – Eric Clapton
How Long Can A Fool Go Wrong – James Cotton

Adv J&J Prelim
Water Runs Dry – Boyz II Men
My Baby – Kaci Brown
Drinkin Wine Spo-dee-o-dee – Nappy Brown

Adv SS
I Sing the Blues – Etta James
How Deep Is Your Love – Portrait
Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5
I’m Tore Down – Jeff Golub

Granted, this is a small selection so take it with a grain of salt – however:

I think outside of the champions level, it is frequently a mixed bag. For example at Swing City Chicago, the All Star J&J finals didn’t have a single swing song played – even though 1 out of 3 at the advanced level was swing.

MADJam All Star J&J – same issue – no swing played at all.

Swing Diego (2010) – again, outside of Champions, virtually no swing played at all.

In my opinion, the only good thing is that at least they played some good dance music (good dance music is not the same as good swing music). Still, I think the absence of swing in any Swing Dance competition is a travesty.

In my unreasonable mind –

I think swing music should be the PRIMARY type of music played in any competition category (but not necessarily the ONLY type of music played). I think the higher your skill level, the more demanding the music should be – and most contemporary music IS VERY SIMPLE. The reason people struggle with what to do with that really great thunka-thunka hip-hop song is because it is not a layered, complex and demanding piece of music that pushes you to greater achievements. It is pandering and unintelligent in nature, appealing to the basest aspects of our nature and – when it becomes a primary building block for this dance, it contributes to the perversion of this dance.

I guess it goes back to what I value and try to promote about this dance. I hold very dear the history of this dance and I think the WCS community as a whole too frequently dismisses that history as irrelevant. I think we are slowly losing swing – when, instead – Swing should come first in all aspects of this dance.

With that said, I don’t think dance can ONLY be danced to swing. It far to versatile too be pigeon-holed as such. I am disappointed that I encounter too many instructors (and consequently – students and dancers) who think that this dance has moved so far beyond its definition that Swing is really even important anymore. Which is one of the reasons I think that J&J and Strictly Swing divisions should focus on Swing music first. I’m just tired of watching the top echelon of dancers prance around to what is typically inferior music, looking more and more like a bunch of preening peacocks, and less and less like the accomplished Swing dancers that they ACTUALLY are.

I found it really very interesting as I re-watched all those comps. So often the good dancers would prance and pose, as was appropriate for the booty music they were performing to, only to actually start to DANCE when the swing song would come on. Gee, it was almost as if the music demanded certain behavior from the dancers – and the better dancers would oblige.

Suffice to say, quit letting the children decide what’s for dinner. They don’t get to live on dessert alone. Sometimes you have to teach them to appreciate what’s actually better for them.

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3 thoughts on “Competition Music

  1. PS Is there some way you could highlight the (few) tunes that qualified as “swing”? I recognise a few of them but probably missed others.

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