It’s Saturday night, all of your best paired-off friends are headed to your new luxury condo in the heart of town for a couples-only dinner party — and to check out your new digs. You’ve prepared Ina Garten’s latest recipe and smashed potatoes with parm and chives, your house is impeccable, the lighting is perfect. What can you do to set more of a convivial mood with your friends? Aside from plenty of vino, your music playlist is of utmost importance. Make your selections carefully — sure, some ‘70s rock might be great for a summer BBQ but could seem out of place during an intimate dinner.
With that in mind, there are some general rules we like to adhere to when selecting music for any party and couples’ night is just the same, you want to start slow and low (like that cider-roasted pork). Ease into the evening with some pleasant ambiance as you and your guests have cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Plan for the music to escalate in tempo as you head to the table to dine. Calming music — sans alarming sax or drum solos or changes in volume — is vital to ensure a smooth dining experience.
As cocktail hour ends, play some fun music as the wine takes hold and your party swings into full gear. Remember, you can even use the music as a subtle guide for you and your guests to move from one part of the meal to the next, just allow plenty of time for everyone to enjoy.
Our number one rule is play music you love.
Poinciana – Ahmad Jamal
Who doesn’t love jazz? Ahmad Jamal gives this classic song from the 1930s a dreamy update. With a light touch on the piano and rolling drums, Poinciana offers a playful entre to your party without ever veering into elevator music. The most iconic version Jamal recorded is a live one that adds a cheerful mood to your party.
La Vie En Rose – Grace Jones
Ready for dinner? This Edith Piaf classic adds an air of sophistication and style to your gathering with French lyrics and timeless chord phrasing. But Grace Jones adds her own ‘80’s last-disco style to the tune. It’s arguably her best recording and a classic in its own right.
Gentle on My Mind – Aretha Franklin
The wine is flowing, and it’s time to change the pace musically. While many have recorded Gentle on My Mind, they’ve been a little staid and, well, not really suitable for a fun dinner party. But leave it to the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin to breathe life into this standard.
Harvest Moon – Neil Young
Neil Young obviously is the criterion for this song, but your guest will love Poolside’s surprising and soaring cover. Give either version a spin or playlist add during dinner. Trust us — your guests will enjoy either.
I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to Be Free – Nina Simone
No dinner party is complete without a little Nina Simone playing over the speakers, and this particular tune is an uplifting and hopeful way to end the evening and will have you and your guests humming it on their way home.