There isn’t one set way to go about handling the music selections for your tailgate. I can’t write the bible for you, you have to find your own way. It requires an ability to read the room, er, hopefully shaded plot of land.
Some of you older folks probably prefer to just sit around, have a few brews, shoot the shit and watch some football. Meanwhile the younger readers may be more inclined to dance around a bit. But every group is different and with a liberal amount of alcohol, is subject to a little bit of everything. So instead of typecasting you, I’m just going to highlight some timeless classics of the tailgates and new hits to help you style your playlist.
The Morning Mountain Dew
You can’t tailgate all day if you don’t tailgate all day. But those pre-College GameDay hours tend to be a little more lax and chilled out, and your music selections should reflect that. These are songs you can kick back and nurse the first beer of the day to. Can’t You See and I Got A Name are perfect for this, as is Simple Man and The Weight.
It’s not all of your father’s records though. Some modern non-bro country songs like Homegrown are great for the set up.
The Drunken Sing-Along
We’ll start with the most basic of tailgating songs, and yet a tailgate isn’t complete without it. This is the roux to your tailgate, it is essential and impossible to overlook without it coming out bad.
This is Friends In Low Places, the appropriately named Alcohol, You Never Even Called Me By My Name, Dixieland Delight* and obviously Family Tradition. If you want something from this millennium, Wagon Wheel is impossible to resist after two beers.
But this category isn’t just limited to country songs. Tongue Tied is an undeniable banger and a favorite at DVA. A LOT of hair metal with layered hooks fits into this category, but Livin’ On A Prayer is probably the best example from the genre.
*With the unofficial backstrain lyrics, of course
The Boogie Down
One thing that NEVER goes out of style at a tailgate is a good boogie tune. The circle of people who hate these songs at tailgates is impossibly small. Let’s Groove is the best example of this, as it most all of Earth, Wind, & Fire’s discography. Obviously, you have to have September in this category.
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, if you’re comfortable with Michael Jackson songs being played at your tailgate. My all-time favorite GBFTL tune is Boogie Down, an arrangement of the Al Jarreau song. If you haven’t heard it before, it slaps.
But this category is nothing without some KC and the Sunshine Band. I’m talking Get Down Tonight, Boogie Shoes, and I’m Your Boogie Man.
If you haven’t gotten up out of your seat for the Boogie cuts, then you need to for these forbidden grooves. For 358 days of the year you can hate line dances or instructional songs, but for gamedays you must set all inhibitions aside and dance. Bunny Hop, Cupid Shuffle, and Wobble are necessary evils, but necessary nonetheless.
But it’s not just limited to the corny songs. If we list every good song to dance to at a tailgate we’ll be here all day, so I’ll just highlight some standards like I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Pony, This Girl, and My Boo.
The Top 40
As more people pass through or show up, your tailgate will grow in size. And the more people that show up, the more variance in taste that there will be. Now I’m sure that your music taste are Good, Actually and your friends are Not Good, but at some point sacrifices have to be made. You may think “pop” music appeals to the lowest common denominator but...that’s why it’s so popular.
And for what it’s worth, not all pop music is bad. Here are some quality cuts that the youths are digging on: Juice and Truth Hurts by Lizzo, Party For One, Panini, EARFQUAKE, and Sunflower.
Naturally, a lot of your rap songs are going to come from this music group. But...
...there’s something to be said about the fun heaters from yesteryear. Depending your age, this could be something like It’s Tricky, Paul Revere, Top Billin’, or something like O.P.P., Hypnotize, No Scrubs or depending how post-irony you are, I Wish or Just A Friend.
If you’re around my age the the options are almost limitless given how we grew up in the Bling Era where songs were literally made for social events. It shouldn’t take you long to think of some good songs to play. The following are 10 songs I’ve come up with in 30 seconds of thinking:
- Make It Rain
- Crazy In Love
- Shoulder Lean
- Still Tippin’
- Gold Digger
- Country Grammar
- What You Know
- Tell Me When To Go
- In Da Club
- One, Two Step
The Louisiana Flair
Finally, the genre exclusive to us. These songs can be interjected anywhere as seen fit, but especially the morning chill and drunken singalong sections. From Cajun cuts like Please Explain, Jambalaya, and Give Him Cornbread to #NaturallyNawlins songs like Hurricane Season, Still Fly, Do Whatcha Wanna, Choppa Style, New Orleans Ladies, and The Way I Live.
Of course, an LSU tailgate isn’t complete without Wipe Me Down, Independent, Born On The Bayou, and of course, Louisiana Saturday Night.
After each win, the tailgate next to use plays Rebirth’s Casanova and I love it more than almost anything else in the world. Few things are better than breaking down the tailgate while you’re dancing like a moron. And then. when it’s time to cut the power and go home, they play Big Al Carson’s Take Your Drunken Ass Home. It’s too perfect.
The tailgate next to us likes to sneak in a few mashups, and it works perfectly. They’re fun and they fit the mood of the tailgate like a glove. These aren’t on Spotify, so I’ll just drop in a few favorites below.
WARNING: these may permanently ruin some songs for you. I can no longer listen to Semi-Charmed Life without singing Call Me Maybe over it.
(Daft Punk works VERY well for mashups)
If you really like putting your chugging muscles to the test and have a group of friends, consider playing Money For Nothing or Thunderstruck.
The former is a endurance race where you start drinking when you hear the first note of the guitar solo (at approximately 1:35) in Money For Nothing and you don’t stop until Mark Knopfler speaks (2:04).
The latter is more of a crapshoot: you line up in a circle and every time the titular word is said in the song, the next person drinks until it is said again. Sometimes you just take three second sips, but it is alos not said for the entire second verse or in the solo that follows it.