It’s not a proper house party unless someone’s playing millennial RnB
These are the only true bangers
Unless you’re riding waves on mandy or the kind of person who scours the New Music Group for tech-house mixes, dance music can, at times, become repetitive and boring. None more so at a house party when everyone squeezed into the downstairs bedroom-cum-dancefloor has been shuffling stone-faced, Red Stripe in hand, for a good couple of hours.
But now it’s 2am and they’re starting to look bored. The vibe was good at first but everyone seems tired of pretending to have a good time. When this happens there’s only one thing to do: put the CDJs away and get YouTube up. It’s time for the old school RnB bangers to come on.
TLC’s No Scrubs, Wayne Wonder’s No Letting Go, Amerie’s 1 Thing, R Kelly’s Ignition, Lumidee’s Uh-Oh, Kelis’s Millionaire, pretty much anything by Sean Paul – as soon as these millennial classics drop something weird happens. The mood lifts and everybody loses their shit. Self-conscious two-stepping dissolves into chaotic don’t-give-a-fuck dancing.
Couples grind on tables. Boozed up blokes rap along to Breathe without knowing the words. Girls do their best hairbrush-in-the-mirror Destiny’s Child impression. Everyone crowds round the laptop, taking turns to pump out their favourite old school jam.
But why? Perhaps it’s the shift in BPM. Perhaps it’s Sean Paul’s accent. Or perhaps it’s the fact that every single person knows the songs and, for a few precious moments, basks together in a golden window of peak nostalgia. Good music is always connected to certain memories and places, and these songs make us 15 again. Pretensions are abandoned and muscle memory takes over. No-one feels pressured to fit in or dance a certain way. You’re free to be yourself. Everyone Gets Busy because they actually like the music and seem to be genuinely happy. This is without doubt the best part of the night.
When things start to fade the slow jams come out: Mario’s Let me Love You, JoJo’s Leave (Get Out), Say My Name. All these tunes are underrated and underplayed. You wouldn’t ever think of cracking them out on the commute home. But perhaps that’s what makes them so special. The only time you really hear them are during those drunken 2am moments, submerged by a wave of euphoric nostalgia which carries you back to that innocent pre-recession, pre-uni, pre-job blissful state. They evoke forgotten memories seemingly lost to an extinct past only to resurface when we need them most. There’s no irony, anxiety or judgement here – just pure, unbridled joy. Sure, House and Grime and Techno have their merits, but for me they will never arouse the same feelings of childish, limitless abandon.
Things are different now. Songs like this couldn’t be made anymore. Maybe it’s because we’ve grown up and different sounds have evolved, spreading their roots where others once lay. But something raw and genuine seems to have been lost along the way. Our teenage summers used to soundtracked by Destiny’s Child, now they’re airbrushed with Kygo and Instagram. This isn’t to say Sean Paul’s Get Busy has any deeper underlying meaning beyond helping Miss Anabella, Jordi and Rebecca shake that thing. The music is just as empty, cynical, formulaic and ultimately worthless as anything in the charts right now. But the nostalgia trip these bangers take us on will always be priceless.