Is “You’re Still The One” ― Shania Twain’s mega pop crossover hit from 1997 ― a kiss of death as a first dance song?
The latest celebrity divorce makes us wonder: Earlier this week, Chris Appleton ― best known as Kim Kardashian’s statuesque British hair stylist ― filed for divorce from “White Lotus” actor Lukas Gage after just six months of marriage.
Interestingly, the couple had just appeared on Hulu’s “The Kardashians” ― which gets us to the Shania Twain of it all. In the episode, which aired on Nov. 9, Kardashian asks Twain to perform “You’re Still the One” as a gift for the couple before they head to the Little White Chapel in Las Vegas for the wedding.
It’s their song, the couple says. Kardashian ― no stranger to marriage herself ― admits that the song has always been her dream wedding song, too. (She also begs the couple to get a prenup ― smart!)
Lyrically, the song was an interesting choice. Appleton and Gage had only been dating publicly for two months, so some of the lyrics, about weathering the storms and “[taking] the long way,” seemed a tad premature. It’s a pretty honest, unvarnished love song, too, with its talk of beating the odds and proving the naysayers wrong.
In fact, for some couples, it might be a little too honest. For instance, in Season 8 of Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules,” Jax Taylor and Brittany Cartwright used the song at their wedding, and their friends found the choice a little too on the nose: Taylor, a serial cheater, had recently admitted to hooking up with a friend behind Cartwright’s back. They “didn’t listen” to everyone who suggested they break up and instead, got engaged.
The two reality show lovebirds are still together ― looks like they are making it! Still, wedding DJs we spoke to had some pretty strong opinions on the Twain ditty.
“I would rather listen to a lawnmower running over a jar of marbles than ‘You’re Still the One,’” said Joey Farese, a DJ in Los Angeles and Florida.
“‘You’re Still the One’ is intrinsically negative,” he told HuffPost. “Using it as a first dance song on your wedding day serves as a reminder that things weren’t always so great on a day where everything is supposed to be perfect. ”
Farese likens using ‘You’re Still the One’ as a first dance song to talking about an ex in a best man speech. When it comes to dwelling on the past, you just don’t do it.
Sure, he’ll play it ― or any of the popular covers of the song ― but as a superstitious person, Farese said he always makes his couples aware of the tune’s messy history. Twain wrote the song with her then-producer husband, Robert “Mutt” Lange. There’s a notable age discrepancy between the couple (17 years), and apparently, some thought they were doomed to fail ― which they did, years later, in rather dramatic fashion: Lange cheated on Twain with her best friend and personal assistant, Marie-Anne Thiébaud.
Should the song be considered tainted just because the writers ended up divorced? Sean O’Hare, owner of PDX DJs in Portland, Oregon, is of mixed mind.
“I guess that’s ultimately up to each couple to decide for themselves,” O’Hare said. “I’ve certainly had clients use the song and are ‘still together, still goin’ strong.’”
More often than not, though, picking a song is usually not that deep. You choose a first dance based almost exclusively on feeling or vibe of a song rather than delving into the deeper meaning of the lyrics or considering the backstory of the artists, he said.
“This works out OK most of the time since typically the feeling of a song portrays the same sentiment as the lyrics,” O’Hare told HuffPost. “But it’s not a bad idea to go a little deeper because sometimes the lyrics tell a different story if you listen closely.”
Nicole Otero, a DJ at TCM DJ Events in New York City, would prefer to use “You’re Still The One” as background, maybe as the cake cutting song. (No one is listening while the bride and groom are cutting into coconut cake with passion fruit buttercream.)
“Of course, I think the couple should always pick it out for themselves, not the DJ,” Otero told HuffPost. “I will say Shania Twain’s ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman!’ was requested by many brides this wedding season in NYC, and it was a total dance floor banger.”
Kyle Jordan Mueller, a DJ and owner of KJM Productions in Southern California, is a country music fan ― and a fan of Twain, too. He tends to see “You’re Still The One” as a pretty, realistic love song that has the power to speak to a wide range of couples, whether it’s marrying couples or couples celebrating their 50th anniversary.
“To me, ‘You’re Still the One’ is a super cute way to celebrate you and your partner’s achievement in making it through the ups and down of love, now able to celebrate marriage, and keeping the song’s message alive as you navigate through the next chapter of your life together,” Jordan Mueller said.
He actually had a “nice, very down to earth” couple use the song a few months ago, and it felt like an authentic fit for them.
“I’ve worked hundreds of weddings, so I’ve seen every type of couple imaginable,” he said. “Call it judging, but I can usually tell if the couple is really in love and these two were.”
Think “You’re Still the One” is bad? There are worse selections.
In any case, there are far worse first song offenders out there than Twain’s hit.
“Every Breath You Take Song” by The Police is a classic example. Sting, its songwriter, called it a “nasty little song...” “about jealousy and surveillance and ownership.”
Still, that didn’t stop myriad couples in the ’80s and ’90s from using it as their first dance ― a fact that Sting himself finds amusing. “One couple told me, ‘Oh, we love that song; it was the main song played at our wedding!’” he said. “I thought, ‘Well, good luck.’”
Andorian “DJ Beatific” Ramsey from Los Angeles said he’s had two standout bad requests.
“A couple picked ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Whitney Houston, which, despite its beautiful melody, is essentially about a breakup,” he said. “Another chose ‘Gold Digger’ by Kanye West which highlights financial gain vs love.”
Ross Anderson, a DJ and founder of Bela Sono Music in Fairfax, Virginia, thinks “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton is another stinker, only because of its louche-y narrator and a third verse that goes:
So I give her the car keys and she helps me to bed
And then I tell her, as I turn out the light
I say, “My darling, you were wonderful tonight”
“My interpretation is that he gets too drunk and she has to help him home ― Not a romantic end to the night for most couples, nor how I’d want to spend a wedding night,” he joked.
A number of DJs we spoke to mentioned ill-advised first dance songs by U2.
Bono, U2’s lead singer, agrees. When asked in 2006 about couples who’ve played the song at their weddings, he said, “Are you mad? It’s about splitting up!”
“After it repeats the title in the chorus, it then goes, ‘I’m loooooosing you, I’m loooosing you,’” she said. “Everyone in the crowd was looking around, confused. It’s like they didn’t listen past the chorus.”
“I’ve also had more than one enter their wedding reception to the song ‘Highway to Hell’ by AC/DC,” Boylan said. “They didn’t choose those songs because of the lyrics, though. They chose them because they love the song.”
Ultimately, that’s the advice he ― and all the other DJs we spoke to ― give couples: If you like it (and show that on the dance floor), your guests will love it ― even if they are a bit confused.
“I deejay over 90 weddings per year personally and own a wedding DJ company with seven great DJs; I am not superstitious about song lyrics,” Boylan said. “Pick a song that holds meaning in your relationship, and if you like it, forget about what the lyrics say.”