Strong Opinions

'50 Shades of Hate': Dallas DJs Tell Us the Songs They'll Never Play

Think this guy wants to play your lame-ass request of 'Don't Stop Believin'? Keep dreamin'.
Think this guy wants to play your lame-ass request of 'Don't Stop Believin'? Keep dreamin'. Roderick Pullum
In most situations, a DJ is hired to provide a vibe for the room by way of music selections — a curatorial exercise that relies heavily on reading the room. In most cases, requests are unwelcome if you aren't in a dance club environment, but if you catch the DJ in the right mood (or just tip really well), your request may reach your ears before you've caught too much of a buzz.

Every DJ has limits, and certain requests are just not gonna happen. Sometimes it's just a song that's so annoying to the DJ's ears that he or she would rather hear nails on a chalkboard for a half-hour than endure even 30 seconds of your favorite party tune. For certain music nerd DJs (which is most of them), it's out of respect for the song, the artist and the history of that song in the context of DJ culture. In some cases, it may be a sensitivity to vulgar language and a sense of moral duty.

We asked a few Dallas DJs from different corners of the scene what pushes their buttons and what songs they just can't bring themselves to play.

"Anything with the N-word in it. I don't like the word. I think it's a completely unnecessary word to ever use in any lyric. It's a crutch. It has negative energy, which creates a negative environment. And I never want to facilitate a negative environment." — DJ Red Eye

"I'd have to say 'Raspberry Beret' by Prince. Never did like that tune." — Rick Simpson

"I would not play Orbital's 'The Box (part 1).' I love it but wouldn't know how to incorporate it in a performance. Just a song I love and passionate about. — Brian Armstrong

"There’s too many to count, but definitely not 'Blurred Lines' despite my respect for Pharrell. It sounds a bit rape-y. This is just the first one that came to mind. Again, there are so many songs I would never play. But so many I would, and so many requests I get educate me, and I enjoy adding them to my sets. I don’t use a tip jar because that just begs for people to treat you like a jukebox. All I ever say when someone asks if I take requests is, ‘If it’s cool, I’ll play it.’ Honestly, most requests are pretty good." — George Quartz

"One? more like 1,000. 'I'm Too Sexy.' It's just a terrible song. I'd play Milli Vanilli before I'd play 'I'm Too Sexy.' Yes, it's that bad. — Brian Knolley

"I am not a big fan of mainstream dance music. It doesn't have any heart in it. When I hear a song that someone really put a lot of thought into, it's like it takes you on a journey. '#SELFIE' does not. I want to feel the music and relate to it." — CJ Jarman

"For open-format gigs, no pop, no modern-day hip-hop and no line-dancing tracks ('Cupid Shuffle,' 'Electric Slide,' etc). For electronic, I can’t really pinpoint an exact track. If it’s not up to my standards or liking, it’s not in my library, so it’s never thought of. — Scott Augut

"Line dance songs like the 'Cupid Shuffle' or 'Wobble.' I get those requests about once a month." — John Feezy

"Anything off that beyond-horrible Carlos Santana Supernatural album. I really do think the masses had the worst taste in the '90s. Record companies laughing all the way to the bank. When I have the unfortunate luck of hearing 'Smooth,' I throw up a little. — Gabe Mendoza

"'Sandstorm.' Only the man, the myth, the legend Darude can play that." — Ryan Butler

"If it's a corporate or wedding gig, whatever is on the paying client's do-not-play list. If it's a club night, it's hard to narrow down my personal 50 shades of hate list to one particular tune. It varies upon my mood or how douchey the requester is. There are dozens that make me think violent thoughts, but I have to play them anyway if it's a special request. That being said, I guess No. 1 for that category would still be 'Don't Stop Believin'." — Mark Ridlen

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Wanz Dover
Contact: Wanz Dover