Updated: Mar 16, 2020
by The Satyr Herd
I was looking for something in our silly little society that needs defending for a new series, In Defense Of, and Rachel Presents: Rachel noticed a disturbing trend: we all like to shit on songs with the dance instructions implicit in the lyrics. And you know what? Fuck that. These songs are a delight, and you all know it.
Now, by "songs that have dance instructions in the lyrics," we mean songs that—either directly or indirectly—have the dance instructions (usually very simple ones) attached to the lyrics or beat (or both) and are either a favorite to play during weddings and family reunions OR a dance trend destined to die and someday be forgotten. Either way, this is the hill we're willing to die on.
Electric Boogie (The Electric Slide) by Marcia Griffiths:
Every adult in your family loves this song. Every. Single One. Your 97-year-old grandfather who hasn't been able to walk since 1992 will leap out of his wheelchair to sway, shimmy, and kick alongside the enthusiastic parents and grandparents, the teenagers and young adults who want to act like they're too old and too cool to join in but inevitably do it anyway because it's a god damn delight, children who don't know how the dance works but do their best to improvise, and toddlers tripping everyone tall enough not to notice them all stumbling around while their mom is too busy trying to keep track of whether she's supposed to slide backwards or turn around after every two bars.
Best Lyric: Every single lyric where you turn and kick because you know that's what you're waiting for.
Worst Lyric: Every other lyric.
Cupid Shuffle by Cupid:
Not only is this the kind of song everyone gets in on, it's the song where everyone looks smooth as hell when they do. I hate dancing, but you can be damn sure you'll see me drop whatever I'm doing the moment I hear this wonderful man telling everyone in the room to "Down down, do your dance." Even if it's the only song Cupid charted for, it's a damn good one that deserved it.
Best Lyric: "Now walk it by yourself, now walk it by yourself." Being told to "walk it by yourself" as if this move is one that you can devise yourself when in actuality everyone does the same move is a generous way to make us all feel good about our limited dance capabilities.
Worst Lyric: There is none. None.
Cha-Cha Slide by DJ Casper:
This is like a beginner dance song for literally everyone. Even other songs on this list don't give instructions on how to not suck at dancing in painstaking detail the way this one does. It's like having a choreographer for shitty dancers, and it's the closest you can possibly get to dancing to a song without tripping on the two left feet most of us know that we have.
Best Lyric: "Slide to the left. Slide to the right." The dance move that you can put some spice into so you can feel like you're in a boy band dancing on stage while you sing about how you want to slide in bed with your lady friend.
Worst Lyric: "Cha-cha real smooth." Let's be real, no one dancing to this song knows how to cha-cha. Don't break the illusion, Cha-Cha Slide.
Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) by Silentó:
The Anthem of Tik Tok, Watch Me by Silentó is probably the most universally hated on this list--probably because it's the newest one. I admit I'm not the biggest fan of this one either, but you wanna know why? Because we're getting old. We're not hip, y'all. We're not cool. We just don't get it. And that's fine. Let the cool, hip kids have their fun and let's not shit all over it just because the rest of us are out of touch and don't actually know what it means to "nae nae."
Best Lyric: "Do the stanky leg, do the stanky leg."
Worst Lyric: "Do the stanky leg, do the stanky leg."
Macarena by Los Del Rio:
This song is apparently about a woman cheating on her boyfriend while he's drafted in the army, but we don't worry about that when we're busy pretending we can sing along to the lyrics until we hit the part of the song everyone knows how to sing to: "Ayyy, macarena!"
You have to admit that a song becoming that recognizable when so many people who dance to it don't even understand it enough to realize what it's about (myself included) is impressive.
Best Lyric: "Ayyy, macarena!" For obvious reasons.
Worst Lyric: The rest, because it reminds me that I'm not fluent in Spanish and I don't like confronting my crippling insecurities.
Harlem Shake by Baauer:
You know what's amazing about this one? You don't have to dance at all. Life becomes meaningless. Nothing matters. Chaos reigns. Your literal only instruction is to do what you always do all the time, then burst into a spasmodic frenzy of hair and limbs. You can also have a bucket on your head, which is always nice.
Best Lyric: ???
Worst Lyric: ???
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